The Olympics, ravaging one major city at a time


As you watch America earn gold medal after gold medal at this year’s Winter Olympics, there’s a number you might want to keep in mind: 13 billion.

You know, as in 13 billion dollars. 

That’s how much South Korea is reportedly spending to host not just the Olympics, but also the Paralympics — events which are just getting underway, but will be over well before spring starts.

On the main Olympic stadium in Pyeongchang alone, $110 million was spent, according to NPR. And the moment all the games are over, South Korea plans on turning this brand new stadium into rubble.

It’s like the Yankees tearing down and building a new stadium in the Bronx every four years.

The Olympics bring the world together in friendly competition that’s far better than shooting and dropping bombs on each other. 

But the costs and the waste necessary to put on the games is just astronomical. It’s as if we should turn the act of constantly tossing cash into the Olympic flame into a new sporting event.

South Korea is not alone. Many cities that have hosted events spent millions, if not billions, of dollars creating the venues where we see everyone run, or swim, or play tennis, or figure skate, or whatever curling is. And it’s not like these facilities become gifts to the communities that host them — they become abandoned eyesores, decaying and almost completely unused.

While our attention is focused on Pyeongchang, the Chinese already are focusing on 2022 when Beijing hosts the next round of the Winter Olympics. For Beijing, this is the second time hosting in less than 15 years it’s after taking on the Summer Olympics in 2008.

Although Beijing plans to spend far less than the $43 billion invested the first time around, there are no plans to reuse many of the buildings China constructed for the Summer Olympics — despite the fact they are still standing, and are almost completely abandoned.

Moving the Olympics all around the world is really unnecessary. What was once described as an economic boom has since turned into drowning in red.

Just ask Montreal. It hosted the Summer Olympics in 1976, and the Quebec city finally finished paying off that honor around 2006.

Before the modern incarnation of the games, the Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece. All the Greek city-states were invited, and all of them had to join what was known as an “Olympic Truce” — the only competition was on the playing field, not the battlefield.

Olympia might not be the best place to permanently host the Olympics today, but Athens sure is — at least the Summer Games — with the infrastructure already in place from 2004.

Peace during the Olympics is great. Putting cities in debt with unused venues? Not so much.