Some of the deep thinkers in the ‘centre of the universe’ known as Toronto still believe it would be a wonderful thing to host the Summer Olympics. I can’t help but wondering why, and I wish they could just get over it. Down the highway in Montreal, they are still paying the bills for the big party that happened there 41 years ago, including the interest on the stadium that has barely been used since the Expos left town.
Los Angeles hosted the summer games twice in the 20th century, and they found a way to end up showing a profit. That’s why the city of Angels is keen to do it again in 2024. But more recent stories about the Olympics, both summer and winter, have not had a happy ending.
Last year in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro spent $12 billion to host the first Olympics ever in South America. Nine months later, no one wants to swim in the green pool. Arenas that hosted events like basketball and gymnastics sit empty or boarded up. The Olympic Park where the athletes lived is vacant despite the obvious need to house the poor in that city. Leaders of local government, who got elected or re-elected by promising bread and circuses, are being investigated for accepting millions of pesos or dollars in kickbacks.
Even the competitors who were rewarded for their hard work with medals are not happy. Seems their treasured prizes are flaking and rusting because they weren’t made very well.
Remember Sochi in Russia where the Winter Games were held in 2014. It has mostly been a ghost town since shortly after Sydney Crosby and friends skated off the ice after winning the gold. Vladimir Putin signed the big cheques for Sochi, but it seems all he wanted was a place to get his picture taken vaulting over the boards in a hockey uniform.
There’s a lot to be said for lowering expectations. Prairie communities like Regina and Saskatoon have had a wonderful time hosting the Canada Games, both winter and summer over the years.
This summer, it will be Winnipeg’s turn to welcome athletes and visitors from across the land. It will be a great all Canadian party, and it won’t break anyone’s piggy bank.
Why don’t you come check it out, July 28th to August 13th.
Hey, it beats travelling to Trump Land does it not?
I’m Roger Currie