The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Tokyo to Host 2020 Games – Who Next

Sep 30th, 2013
7:15 pm PDT

PlaceholderThe choice has been made and the IOC had chosen Tokyo as the Host city for the 2020 Olympics. I actually have lots of notes on the topic as I had originally intended to give my thoughts on who should be selected. But the more I looked, the more I realized that the choice was more one of the lesser of three evils than who was the best choice.

That said, I’m quite surprised that Madrid got little love from the IOC. Nice city. They did s fine job with Barcelona back in ’92. Track wise they pulled off Worlds in Seville. And they have more venues in place already. A nice set of positive attributes I would think. Granted they are hamstrung with financial woes, but clearly they understood the financial obligations involved with undertaking  hosting the Games.

For me, the negative aspect of their bid is that it’s Europe – and Europe dominates the hosting of the Games. Having the Games in Rio and South America was a major change. Given that the original premise of having the Olympics was to promote GLOBAL peace, understanding, unity then the competitions should be moved around the globe.

Since global peace is at the heart of the Games, I’m personally conflicted as to the consideration of Istanbul – let alone that it garnered more votes than Madrid. Perhaps they were giving thought to the fact that Istanbul would have taken the Games to a new region of the World (the Middle East) and placed it in a Muslim nation for the first time. But it’s hard to ignore that there are anti government protests in Turkey, and war next door in Syria. Certainly the IOC can’t see fit to Host the Games in a city/nation so separated from the basic ideals of the Games themselves. As a matter of fact, with the Middle East being in a constant state of war, I don’t see how the region can ever be considered as host to the Games.

Which takes us to the winner of the bid – Tokyo. Given the "issues" with the other two cities, Tokyo was always seen as the safest choice – and I agree. They’ve done an excellent job with previous global events – ’64 Games, ’91 Worlds, and they always pull things off with precision. The only real negative being the reactor leaks in the water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant – which should be a major concern.

While Tokyo was clearly the "safest" choice however, Asia recently played host in ’08 with Beijing,  and in my personal opinion, a twelve year gap is too small between hosting games.

I was hoping that with the historic selection of Rio de Janeiro for 2016 that the IOC was beginning to take a wider look at the global dispersal of the Games. Of course there is one caveat – in order to host the Olympics you have to place a bid. And we’re just not seeing bids from certain areas. Specifically Africa, North America, and Central America.

Especially Africa, which has yet to host an Olympic Games. And thinking about it, why not? Global events like the World Cup have been held in Africa. And there are several major cities throughout the continent that I think would be capable of playing host. Cities like :

Cairo, Egypt
Lagos, Nigeria
Johannesburg, South Africa
Alexandra,  Egypt
Casablanca, Morocco
Cape Town, South Africa
Nairobi, Kenya

And while Rio is hosting the next edition of the Games, it is the first ever from South America and the first Latin American location since Mexico City in 1968. A shame given cities like:

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bogota, Columbia 
Lima,  Peru
Santiago, Chile

Then again, we also haven’t had a North American host since Atlanta in 1996. The US has bid, but lost big with its Chicago attempt. Canada hasn’t bid at all, though Montreal put on a nice event in ’76. Both countries have several suitable cities (just to name a few):

Los Angeles
New York

My point here is that perhaps it’s time to take a look at the process we’ve been using to select host cities for the Games. The expense has become prohibitive by anyone’s standards. The idea of a global "get together" is more so restricted to "wealthy" hosts than ever before. Effectively excluding most of the world. I’m sure that’s NOT what de Coubertine had in mind when he revived the Games.

That said, perhaps a global effort in putting on the Games could be established. I’m thinking that a fundraising effort by the IOC could do the trick. Contributions by member nations plus development of corporate sponsorships could enable potential host cities to both come forward and do the work necessary to put on the, Games. At the same time, however,  I would expect the IOC to play a different role in selection.. I would actually like to see them develop areas to solicit from.. Selectively rotating the Games around the globe.

So, for example they could say we’re taking bids from Africa for 2024, and of fundraising is targeted to provide $X.00 to assist the host city. That would then make it easier for an African city to come forward as host.  If would also make the Games more of a global "party"  with the Games moving throughout the global neighborhood, and everyone having a little skin in the game.

The Games would no longer be just for the wealthy, nor primarily confined to Europe. It would be more closely in line with the ideals from which it was created. I think that should be the twenty first century‚Äôs contribution to the world’s preeminent sporting event – making it truly global.

One Response to “Tokyo to Host 2020 Games – Who Next”

  1. Aurelio Feldman says:

    As a brazilian I have to say that a lot of us are not happy to host the Olympics and the Football World Cup.

    If you look at the bugdet of the 2007 Pan Am Games also hosted in Rio you will see that it was bigger than the 03, 99 and 95 Games put together.

    It is known that our politicians are not honest at all a lot of venues are built costing 3 ou 4 times the real budget.

    This kind of event in countrys like Brazil is a shame because we have a lot of issues to deal like unumpleyment, health care, education and I think that countrys in Africa and South America suffers from the same problems and sporting events should not be held at places with such problems.

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