Dead dogs, broken toilets, buildings in ruins….
These are usually what you find in cities after they host the Olympics.
The Winter Olympics open Thursday in Sochi, Russia, amidst tales of construction nightmares, toxic sludge, and stray dogs hiding in fear for their lives in the wake of the city’s campaign to seek and exterminate the animals.
Has anyone seen any homeless yet in Sochi? Just asking.
I come not to bury Sochi, but to praise it. Sochi may be the greatest host city ever for the games, a place that embodies the Olympic ideals – graft, corruption and scandal. They should hold the Winter Olympics every four years in Sochi.
Then again, four years from now, Sochi may be Russia’s economic Chernobyl.
The Olympics often leave a trail of broken cities — and sometimes countries — in its path. The economic promises made by Russian officials to the International Olympic Committee were promises made on the backs of the children of children who haven’t even been born yet.
Having the IOC as a partner is like doing business with Tony Soprano. You bet on dreams and they turn into nightmares. You’ve got 10 grand on the Giants and then suddenly you’re in debt and doing things you couldn’t have possibly imagined.
I mean, the IOC managed to corrupt the Mormons, for crying out loud. Salt Lake City organizers were charged with bribery and fraud in the 2002 Winter Games bid. They were later acquitted, but 10 IOC members were expelled as a result.
The irony is – and what they don’t tell you when they are organizing committees and selling the populace on the glory of the Games – is that hosting the Olympics picks the pockets of the people who are promised streets of gold.
In Salt Lake City, the mayor went on local television every night to plead with people to come into town to eat at local restaurants – some of which had spent money in anticipation of the business rewards from hosting the Olympics – because those restaurants were empty, and losing money.
In Sydney, host of the 2000 Summer Olympics, businesses went bankrupt after expanding, looking forward to reaping the rewards predicted by Olympic organizers, only to find that more people typically leave a city during the game than come there. The Olympic Stadium turned out to be a very big flower pot for years after the Games were gone.
We know what happened to Greece, which spent $11 billion to host the 2004 Summer Games and wound up in economic ruin. And Washington wants to host the Summer Olympics? Folly.
For Russia, this has the makings of being an Olympic dry hole with long-lasting global implications.