The Sochi doomsayers

I am not a huge fan of the Olympics. It seems to me to be an over-hyped extravaganza in which the emphasis has shifted from a focus on pure athleticism to anything that gets good ratings and brings in money to the IOC. It also results in governments spending huge amounts of money to construct buildings and facilities that often turn into white elephants later.

But while I have little interest in the games, I wish them well. A lot of people, athletes and spectators, look forward to these events and many people put in an enormous amount of work to try and make them a success. So it irritates me when some seem to take great glee in emphasizing the inevitable glitches that will undoubtedly occur with such a vast undertaking. This is particularly apparent when the host country is one that the US sees as a competitor or a rival on the global stage.

Remember the predictions of chaos and disaster at the Beijing games? And now we hear similar things for Sochi, with endless reports on stray dogs, poor buildings, unfinished roads, terrorist threats involving toothpaste, and so on. It seems like these reporters are just waiting for something bad to happen so that they can indulge in some schadenfreude. And of course there are the US politicians who seem to be incessantly warning that a terrorist attack is likley to take place.

But from what little I have heard, people seem to be having a good time and enjoying themselves.

This report tries to give some perspective.

I for one hope that these games go off well without a hitch, even if I will not watch any of the events myself.


  1. wtfwhateverd00d says

    The one exception every economist points to is Los Angeles, host of the 1984 Summer Olympics. That’s because no other city bid to host the games that year, so L.A. hardly needed to do any special construction.

    FWIW, I don’t think this from the NPR article is accurate. What’s I believe is more accurate is that having hosted the Olympics back in 32, and already being the host of many teams in professional and college sports, LA already most of venues built. LA Coliseum, Sports Arena, etc.

    So LA’s spending manifested around modernizing these already existing structures and putting money into infrastructure (as in building the LA Airport’s Bradley Terminal.) And infrastructure should be a good investment. And it was.

    Olympic levels of Investment in podunk little towns that don’t have the need for Olympic levels of traffic and media after the event might be questionable.

  2. mnb0 says

    “This is particularly apparent when the host country is one that the US sees as a competitor or a rival on the global stage.”
    I don’t think that’s correct. I have read many similar stories about the forthcoming WCh football in Brazil. I don’t think The Netherlands see that country as a rival on the global stage. It’s probably a mixture of genuine worry and schadenfreude – typical human.

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