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Catalyst Conversation: Winning the Olympics…is it worth it?Oct 12

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Catalyst Conversation: Winning the Olympics…and is winning worth it?

On October 2, the IOC will announce which city – Chicago, Madrid, Rio, or Tokyo – will be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic games. Naming a host city occurs 7 years before a games event is to occur, but bidding cities begin their proposals, fundraising, and recruitment of support for several years before the bids are awarded. Emile Chin-Dickey and Andrew Verstain lead a GCG discussion around how hosting the Olympic games, whether summer or winter, is a big endeavor, which easily translates into big money-and big controversy.

Big Money:

Hosting and bidding on a two-week olympic games event isn’t cheap. For instance, Athens spent $15B and China spent over $40B on their respective games towards infrastructure and event facilities. Even bidding for games comes at a price too (much of the bidding money is raised privately): London spent $25M on its successful 2012 bid; Chicago has spent $75M to date on its 2016 bid.

Whether these expenditures are worthwhile largely depend on how advanced a city’s infrastructure is and how big it is relative to it and its country’s economy.

Controversy:
Hosting an Olympics is not necessarily all the glitz that a Beijing Opening Ceremony may have you believe.  Here just a few of the controversies:

This discussion was a thoughtful debate over the reasons a city should or should not pursue the hosting of an olympics.

The roundtable included answering:

  • What does the Olympics stand for, and does it still have a point?
  • Who stands to benefit the most from the olympics?
  • Should Chicago want the Olympics?
  • Do developing countries stand to gain more from hosting games over developed countries?
  • Can social media further the objectives of the Olympic movement? “Another example of social media and the Olympics is from computer manufacturer Lenovo, which has created blogs for about 100 Olympics athletes.”
  • Should Obama take time off from the Health Care debate to go to Copenhagen to appeal to the IOC?  This sportswriter thinks the olympics in Chicago can have a bigger impact on health care than the bills currently being debated

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