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No Toronto Olympics


Staff member
This insanity has got to stop. Why is this quest for hosting the Olympics even being considered?

Kelly: Hosting the Olympics is a rollercoaster of despair
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jul. 27, 2015 7:55PM EDT

Three years ago, researchers at Oxford University examined the cost of hosting 17 recent Olympics.

The key finding was that the numbers you come up with when you’re planning a Games bear little to no resemblance to the final tally. It doesn’t matter if you’re coring out an Alpine village or gently resetting the bones of a global metropolis. It ends in tears once the bill arrives.

“The [cost of the] Games overrun with 100-per-cent consistency,” they wrote. “Other project types are typically on budget from time to time, but not the Olympics.”

On average, they found that a Summer Games cost two-and-a-half times more than was promised.

This isn’t about organizing committees getting it wrong. It’s about not even bothering trying to get it right. And why should they? They know from experience how this goes. Every Games charts along the same emotional graph, which we might call The Six Stages of Olympic Despair.

Toronto is in the first and most dangerous – Belief.

The city’s just staged a successful Pan Am Games (successful in the sense that it wasn’t the disaster everyone expected). Riding a sugar rush of patriotic nihilism, there’s now a move afoot to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, regardless of whether or not we can afford to do so.

This move was largely afooted by Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut. He’s promised to “use the full power of his office” to promote the bid. How gallant of him!

Maybe later, Aubut can use the full power of his office to buy the two of us a castle in Britain that we can share, but with money I borrowed.

From this point on, all the loudest cheerleaders for the project will have two things in common – a very large stake in claiming credit for acquiring the Olympics, and a very small one in providing the cash to pay for them once they’re secured.

Bostonians are in Stage 2 – Reality.

Less than a year ago, they were Toronto – fired with civic pride and can-do-ism as they were announced as The United States’s choice to bid for 2024. Then the logistical realities started to roll in, followed by a fetid tide of financial obscurantism.

In January, a slight majority of Bostonians wanted the Games. By March, it was down to a third. On Monday, Boston’s mayor announced he wanted guarantees that city taxpayers would not pay for any cost overruns. Boston’s Olympic bid died a few hours later, sparing them the disorientation of

Stage 3 – Resignation.

Now you’ve “won” the right to host the Olympics. HOORAA … uh oh, here comes the mob. Just roll with the punches. Better yet, get down on the ground and protect your head. It will all be over not that soon.

A couple of weeks ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kiboshed plans for the main stadium for Tokyo’s 2020 Games. This seems like something rather beneath the attention of the most powerful person in the country, but the Olympics have this way of making everyone seem equal. Equally stupid.

A few local spoilsports couldn’t help but notice they were suddenly on the hook for the Most Expensive Arena in Human History. Originally budgeted at $1-billion (U.S.), the cost had spiraled to more than double that, and they hadn’t yet begun building it.

Abe said he is “certain” this no-longer-even-conceptual arena will be ready in five years time. By “certain” he means “not certain at all, but by that point, taxpayers will be so panicked that we’re going to look like a bunch of international hobos with a half-finished stadium, they’ll just let me pay the goddamned two billion or whatever it is.”

That’s where the IOC wants you, which is the prelude to Stage 4 – Rage.

This is a year or two from the first arrival. The real numbers – figures still on the conservative side, but that already sound totally insane – are out now. The middle-class is wigging out. The politicians who fronted this farce have vanished. Everyone else is on strike. The whole thing’s still not finished.

Five hundred days out, London had completed 80 per cent of its Olympic infrastructure; at a similar point in May, Rio 2016 had completed 10 per cent.

The hosts are now defeated and pliant. This is where the worst pillage happens. It’s too late to care.

You thought you’d rent your house for 20 grand. You didn’t. You thought you’d be able to get tickets. You didn’t. You believed them when they said you could afford it. No, you didn’t.

The only thing preventing you from rushing out onto the street to start lighting cars on fire is knowing you did this to yourself.

After nearly a decade of pain comes Stage 5 – A Brief Spasm of Pleasure.

The lights drop on the Opening Ceremony. The music dips. A single spotlight hits the floor of the darkened stadium you paid seven squajillion dollars to build. A small child in local-folk dress emerges and begins to dance with an animatronic beaver or somesuch, and the whole world’s heart melts.

Your left-brain still wonders why you have to pay for everyone else to have their hearts melted, but your right-brain is in charge for the next three weeks.

The Olympics – who could put a price on this much joy?

Well, that guy shows up a few days after the torch gutters out and announces the real-real price. It’s a lot. And it’s probably still only half-true.

This is Stage 6 – The Crash.

Other cities in other countries have convinced themselves it’s money well wasted. They continue to do so. Eventually, most of them deeply regret it.

Canada spun that wheel and won with Vancouver 2010, but that was a Winter Olympics. They cost less, and we’re better at them.

If Montreal 40 years ago is our closest comparison, we might take a very deep breath. Those Games overran their budget by nearly 800 per cent. Put another way, we paid infinity dollars per gold medal.

While we’ve got our heads between our knees cogitating the wholly predictable boondoggle to come, we might also ask ourselves a question: Why pay to host a party people keep inviting us to attend for free?

Kelly: Hosting the Olympics is a rollercoaster of despair - The Globe and Mail
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


TRIBE Member
hilarious words in this post:

sugar rush of patriotic nihilism
fetid tide of financial obscurantism
the mob
the middle class is wigging out
defeated and pliant
lighting cars on fire
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Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
hilarious words in this post:

true, but i'm in complete agreement with the article.

rome, paris, hamburg, budapest, los angeles, san Francisco and washington d.c. are all competing for the 2024 olympics.

it costs $50-60 million to just bid for the games.

i'd rather the city spend its resources/effort over the next 9 years on other things.


TRIBE Member
I would like to see a study of the effects of the Vancouver Winter Olympics before I get upset. I have my opinions but I like them to be informed.


TRIBE Member
If the Olympics are the impetus for building better transition especially subways I'm all for it.

Regardless, there will be an Olympic bid because all the news outlets are telling you that the Pan Am games are a success, so obey.
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TRIBE Member
I believe PanAM was a good fit and perfect scale for Toronto at this moment in time. Will wait to see economic impact but seemed relatively cheap. Tickets were definitely accessible and affordable.

The Olympics are a different beast entirely and their current model for winning a bid is no longer economically viable. The only way I'd be for it is it if ensures that the full transit plan including a DRL is built before 2024. :)


TRIBE Member
The people lusting after the Olympics are probably the people who have $100 in their chequeing account but just bought a new car with no money down down because they want to "project success".


Staff member
What happened in Boston is they came to their senses...

Who actually wants to host the Olympics?

By Evan Horowitz GLOBE STAFF JULY 28, 2015

Six months is all it took for Boston’s Olympics bid to implode, brought down by persistently low levels of public support and ongoing concerns about the risk to taxpayers.

We’re not the first city to drop our Olympic aspirations after a hard look at the costs. Many other cities have done so, sometimes even later in the process and often in response to mounting public opposition.

And while there’s talk that Los Angeles could soon take Boston’s place as the official US nominee, that would hardly solve the bigger problem facing the Olympic Games: Cities all around the world seem increasingly reluctant to host the Olympics.

What happened to Boston’s bid?

Between the weak polling numbers, lackluster support from political leaders, and hints of frustration from the US Olympic Committee, it was clear that Boston’s Olympics bid was in trouble.

Things really started to unravel early Monday morning at a press conference with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The mayor said that he was not yet ready to sign a guarantee confirming the city would cover all necessary Olympics expenses — including possible cost overruns.

Because such a guarantee is required by the US Olympic Committee, the mayor’s words effectively meant that the bid could not go forward. Within a few hours, the USOC and local Olympics organizers announced that Boston was no longer the official nominee.

Have other cities ever dropped their bids?

We’re not the first city to bow out late in the process. Oslo, Stockholm, and Krakow all withdrew bids that had already gone to the International Olympic Committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Rome had the endorsement of the Italian National Olympic Committee when it abandoned its efforts to snare the 2020 summer games.

Perhaps most famously, the citizens of Colorado waited until they’d been officially chosen as the host of the 1976 winter games before voting not to accept that honor.

In each of these cases — as in Boston — broad public opposition played a key role in the decision to back out. That creates another hurdle for interested cities. It means that unless you’re confident of wide public support, it may not be worth submitting a bid in the first place.

Perhaps for that reason, cities really do seem to be growing less enthusiastic about hosting the Olympics. Whereas the 2004 games attracted 12 applicants, the 2020 games had just five.

The problem is especially acute in democratic countries, where public opinion is paramount. Things look different in dictatorships and autocracies, which are freer to pursue whatever Olympics plans their leaders think best. That can lead to situations like the current race for the 2022 winter games, where all the democratic bidders have backed out, leaving a choice between China and Kazakhstan.

What does this say about the future of the Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee is acutely aware of the shrinking pool of interested cities and it’s trying to make bidding cheaper and more appealing by letting cities take advantage of existing facilities and giving host cities the options of adding a favored local sport or two (Tokyo is considering bringing back baseball and softball for the 2020 games).

Possibly as a result of these changes, interest in the 2024 games seems relatively high — even among democracies. Rome, Paris, Hamburg, and Budapest are all pursuing bids, and there’s also interest from Istanbul, Toronto, and beyond.

Then again, the unceremonious end of Boston’s Olympic dream is a reminder that these bids may not all come to fruition.

What would make cities eager to host the Olympics once again?

Cost is probably the biggest obstacle. Hosting the Olympics has become an extremely expensive undertaking, often requiring billions in taxpayer dollars, which is part of what stokes public resistance.

Smaller, less elaborate venues would be one way to reduce costs, though the risk is that you might have to sacrifice some Olympics majesty.

Alternatively, the International Olympic Committee could seek out existing facilities. That could mean returning to former Olympics sites — like Los Angeles — where key structures are already in place. Or the IOC could spread the games across multiple cities, or countries, to ensure a full portfolio of necessary venues.

Otherwise, given the outsized costs and massive taxpayer risk, more cities like Boston could find themselves dispensing with the question of how they can put together a winning Olympics bid and wondering, instead, why they would want to.

from Boston Globe
Who actually wants to host the Olympics? - Metro - The Boston Globe
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true, but i'm in complete agreement with the article.

rome, paris, hamburg, budapest, los angeles, san Francisco and washington d.c. are all competing for the 2024 olympics.

it costs $50-60 million to just bid for the games.

i'd rather the city spend its resources/effort over the next 9 years on other things.

Yeah, the idea of an Olympic bid is about the equivalent of this image when it comes to how badly we need to expand our infrastructure thoughtfully and deal head on with the real problems of our city:



TRIBE Member
Ok so I admit I haven't looked into this or done any googling but I have a question:

This $50 to $60 Million figure for bidding: what is that comprised of? Is some of that actual fees or is just implied that you need to spend that much on your presentation etc as table stakes?

If it's not set established fees and the model is no longer financially viable in general then could a city put in essentially a protest bid suggesting a different way of doing things? Could we spend 10% of that and do a power-point presentation that focuses on a financially viable version of the games that dials down the extravagence?

I fully admit I have no idea what I'm talking about.
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TRIBE Member
So then why don't we not do that. Submit a bid that actually financially makes sense fully realizing the unlikelyhood of winning under the current model but maybe being ahead of the curve in what might end up being a new era of world sporting events now that the tide of public opinion seems to be moving to these things not being worth it if they are so expensive. Also considering the FIFA corruption fallout maybe bribes won't be kept in the dark as much for much longer.

I fully see the Rose Coloured Glasses required to accept any of the above.
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