2022 Winter Olympics FAIL


Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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38 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    It would seem to me that this still makes Los Angeles the exception and not the rule. Los Angeles might be the only city where part of the opening ceremony potentially involved experimental theatre:


    A lack of funds shut down the performance.

    I am kind of glad that many Western Democracies are choosing to not host the Olympics because of costs. However, I suspect that many dictatorships and U.S. cities will rush into the bidding process and kiss IOC butt. Building stadiums with public money is never a good idea but it seems to be something that legislatures can’t help but doing. Politicians seems to read Shelly incorrectly when it comes to this stuff:

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      With Salt Lake City as a similar exception for the Winter Games, showing a profit of about $100M. When you run down the list of facilities used in the SLC Games, what you see is a bunch of smallish new facilities, as well as repurposed existing ones (eg, temporarily renaming the Delta Center as the Salt Lake Ice Center, restoring historic buildings at Fort Douglas as part of the Olympic Village, using an expanded University of Utah stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies). With a budget of about $2B versus Sochi’s $50B (although that reported estimate for Sochi is widely considered to be higher than the actual cost).Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Although SLC Olympic savior, Romney, got a bunch of money from the Fed’s to save their bacon fwiw. What really helped SLC was they have a real winter sports set up before the O’s came to town. That doesn’t fit with places like Sochi. Places like Sweden, Germany or Norway have most of what they need already to run most of the actual sports. It’s all the perks and extra construction that becomes a waste.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Seconding greginak, here. IIRC, the Sal Lake City Olympics set a record (at the time) for generous government funding.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Yeah what you said. I love the Olympics and especially the Winter version. But good for all those countries telling the IOC to bit their frozen skiing asses. If it wasn’t for FIFA the IOC would be worst international sports federation. They have a great product that only requires them to put on competently with a bit of tradition and pageantry for people to love. But they are to caught up in bigger and more and most importantly more cash. There list of perks is hilarious.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Like I previously said, the best solution is to have a permanent venue for the games if we want to have them. Greece gets the Summer Olympics, Switzerland the Winter Olympics, and Brazil the World Cup.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      In the current situation, the host country bears most of the costs. If the same city is going to host every four years, that country’s government is going to require that the IOC and member nations of the Olympics reimburse them for the continuing expense. I don’t think the IOC and member nations are likely to be willing to do so.

      If it could be done, I like the idea, though I’d like to see things rotate somewhat, so that it’s a more international movement rather than just being in Europe. (Besides which, Greece obviously can’t afford it – and wouldn’t want it, as 2004 was, from what I hear, responsible for a fair portion of their budget/debt problems.) I’d say pick one city each in the Americas, Europe, and Asia/Pacific, for each of the winter and summer Olympics (so 6 cities total) and rotate between them. It means that more people will have the chance of attending the games without flying halfway around the world.

      Winter: Switzerland; Calgary; Nagano or (depending on how 2018 goes) Pyongchang in South Korea.

      Summer: Pick a European city that wants it; Los Angeles; and Beijing or Sydney. (Sydney’s probably a better location, for air quality among other reasons, but Asia’s a big area the summer Olympics should include it).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Pyongchang is in North Korea and that would certainly be an interesting Olympics.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Thanks, Kolohe. I did a double-take the first time I saw the name, too, but it is in South Korea.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “In the current situation, the host country bears most of the costs. If the same city is going to host every four years, that country’s government is going to require that the IOC and member nations of the Olympics reimburse them for the continuing expense. I don’t think the IOC and member nations are likely to be willing to do so.”

        However, the costs would be far lower, since they wouldn’t have to pay for the creation of a new miniature city and sports facilities.Report

  4. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    I have to admit reading this that I thought the first couple examples of pickiness were kind of weak. What’s wrong with asking that bouquets be a standard size? And it is actually true that people can have allergies, so why not use flowers that are less likely to cause them? If that’s the best example of overreach, I’d side with the IOC.

    Then I saw the Norway list. How did they ever let themselves get to the point where any of that could be considered OK?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      I had the same reaction, Vik.Report

    • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

      The Norway list reads more like a list of demands made by third world resource corp. oligarchs or weapons dealers visiting a benighted country to talk about exploitation deals than anything else.

      …which I suppose is what the Olympics (particularly the Winter ones) have degenerated into: A paid prestige opportunity for countries needing that optics boost.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        This resonates surprisingly well.

        Though, I would modify it to it’s like a list of demands that movies have taught us to expect from “world resource corp. oligarchs or weapons dealers”. I have no idea what actual weapons dealers are like. For all I know, they’re nice well-grounded guys.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I recommend “Lord of War”. It’s a Nicholas Cage movie, but I found it enjoyable.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I laughed.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Especially given how, I’m not even sure this is the right word, humble the Norwegians are as a society. They barely tolerate that kind of behavior from their own royalty, I’d be amazed if they did so from the members of the IOC.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      Hee hee

      @vikram-bath and @james-hanley

      I think my reactions were precisely inverted from yours because I’ve been following the IOC just well enough to know that Dennis got this backwards:

      “Two reasons: first is the $51 billion Russia spent on the Sochi games. Second, the International Olympic Committee is basically run by corrupt crooks.”

      The second reason is actually the first and only one. If you’re not corrupt, people can’t just buy the games in the first place. Russia’s Sochi bid was a symptom.

      The IOC is the disease.Report

      • Avatar Dennis Sanders says:


        I don’t really think we are that far off. I may have never said the IOC is the disease, but the article states that the main problem is the IOC not the $51 spent at Sochi. Sochi was a factor, a big one, but the main issue is the IOC which is what I said.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I don’t know that I would take a $51 billion bid as prima facie evidence of corruption by itself. I have a hard time grappling with how much money that really is in the first place. Also, it seems clear that a lot of countries see the Olympics as an opportunity to build out on a forced schedule and get something along the way while making investments they were going to do sooner or later anyway. That was certainly the case with Beijing. Much of the money went to infrastructure improvements that would have happened irrespective of the Olympics. (I don’t know if that was the case with Sochi, but it sounds plausible to me.)Report

  5. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    It might be interesting to see the Scandinavian countries ban together and propose to co-host the games. You could have Olympic Village East, Central and West (or something like that). The opening ceremonies would be a pin in the ass logistically but you could even split that up. Not an ideal situation but it could work.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      IIRC, multi-national co-hosting has been proposed, but shot down by the IOC (ditto with merely multi-city). The only one that came close was the DPRK hosting some stuff for the ’88 Seoul games, but a Stalinist dictatorship is, of course, the only institution that can make the IOC look sympathetic.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        The Olympics have been functionally multi-city (albeit cities in close proximity) – for example, Vancouver 2010 was split between Vancouver and Whistler.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        But wasn’t that more like the Salt Lake City / Park City deal? I.e. the nearest place to the host city where one could actually physically host the events? (or like how Atlanta whitewater events were held in Tennessee and the yachting events in Savannah)Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

        It looks like there will be some multi-city hosting with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the soccer venues will include the Sapporo Dome way up in Hokkaido.Report

  6. Avatar Lyle says:

    At least you could go a step further and at least in Europe make a whole country rather than a city the venue. Norway or Sweden then would likely have all the facilities needed already. Perhaps this is even more true of the summer games. Even for the summer games consider the entire US for the games, sort of an extension of what Brazil did with the world cup with matches scattered over the whole country, although it could be just different sports at different locations.Report

  7. Avatar notme says:


    It is simple. We got here b/c the IOC is comprised of corrupt elitist Europeans.Report

  8. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Beijing is a bad choice because there are no mountains within 120 miles of the city. Almaty is even worse because a) no one even knows where this is and b) Kazakhstan is basically a dictatorship.

    China’s definitely a dictatorship, so I’m not getting why Kazakhstan is “even worse”.

    But the Olympics have certainly become over-costly and problematic. I think it would be better to try to rotate them through cities that have had prior, successful Olympics and thus already possess the infrastructure. (E.g., if Canada wants them again, we should do a repeat of Calgary – despite being a BCer, I have to admit the location’s better, as snow in the Rockies is more reliable and drier. We certainly shouldn’t do Québec City, since then we’d need to build all the same stuff we did in Vancouver and Calgary. Also, the Québec construction industry has some serious corruption issues.)Report

    • Avatar scott the mediocre says:


      Not to put words in Dennis’ keystroke queue, but I submit to the judges that China is hardly a dictatorship, not even a collective dictatorship (nor a dictatorship of the proletariat :). A repressive oligarchy, to a greater degree than any other major economy except possibly (probably?) Russia, sure. A relatively functional and mid-term stable repressive oligarchy, which is reasonably important for things like Olympic Games.

      It’s quite possible for a regime to be very nasty without being in any meaningful sense a dictatorship (Saudi Arabia comes to mind). You could plausibly call the PRC a dictatorship in Dèng Xi?opíng’s era (though even in his case the Eight Immortals served as something of a brake).

      Compare and contrast Kazakhstan, where Nazarbayev is the only President (de facto, For Life) since 1991, was the unquestioned communist party boss for five years before that, has direct authority both de facto and formally, over the military (meaning it will be difficult to displace him via coup), …, and you may indeed conclude that Dennis was correct. Or you may not.

  9. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I’d also like to say that I loved the Vancouver Olympics. The costs and infrastructure didn’t strike me as excessive (it was mostly a new curling stadium that became a rec centre, and the Richmond Oval for ice skating, which also became a rec centre). The Olympics also prompted infrastructure investments that were needed and valuable – the improvement of the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, and the Canada Line from the Vancouver airport to downtown. The Canada Line in particular is awesome and extremely convenient, and lets people get into town without fighting through gridlock.

    But beyond all that – people here loved the Olympics. It felt like all of Vancouver came out to watch and be involved, and the feeling in the city was very excited and upbeat (after the first couple days of anarchist protesters). And people across the country really got into it too. It was an extremely fun and unifying event.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    “The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.”

    OK, that’s not quite right in this case. We need a corollary to the Iron Law: “People who control institution care first and foremost about their own power within the institution rather than the institution itself, but aren’t shy about using the power of the institution to get a whole bunch of cookies for desert.”Report

  11. Avatar George Turner says:

    The whole system is screwed up and needs to be rethought.

    Why is basketball played in the summer games when basketball season isn’t in the summer? Why is wrestling, when you can wrestle all year round?

    This line of thought leads to the obvious conclusion that there should be a summer games, a winter games, and an indoor we-don’t-give-a-fish what season it is games. The latter could take over basketball, wrestling, boxing, karate, judo, weight lifting, volleyball, gymnastics, table tennis, and handball, and probably add darts so the British could excel at a sport.Report