Friday, August 5, 2016

God willing, these may be the last Olympic Games

It's been a time honoured tradition. Major cities around the world bid for the privilege of hosting the next Olympic Games.

The bid process itself costs millions.

Then the lucky "winner" gets to spend billions in preparing Games infrastructure. This is inevitably sold in host countries as infrastructure they were going to build anyway. What it really means is cost-plus contracts to the usual handful of construction conglomerates who dominate the international firmament of big infrastructure projects.

These inevitably outrun their original budgets by two or three or five hundred percent, but the now captive local populations keep shovelling good money after bad because, after all, they're on the world stage now.

It becomes a matter of "national pride."

Meanwhile, to allow those infrastructure projects to proceed, entire local communities are bulldozed and built over. That's just the price of progress, and who wants to stand in the path of progress?

And then the Games begin with massive international media attention and world-class hoo-ha.

For a few weeks international corporate sponsors will get invaluable global screen exposure.

A handful of athletes will become international media darlings and sign management deals that will ensure them a spot on the global A-list for the rest of their lives.

Everybody else will go home and pout for four years, but the host country will grapple with their Olympic debt for the next quarter century or more.

And those corporate sponsors who are the real beneficiaries of this Olympian boondoggle will be busy goading the next wannabe host city into filing a proposal for a repeat performance eight or twelve years out.

It's a bullshit boondoggle from top to bottom and end to end, but it looks like there might be enough pissed off folks in Rio to finally put these truths on the map.

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