A Permanent Home For The Olympic Games: Should It Happen?


Every four years, the best of the best athletes from all over the world gather round to compete for the Olympic Games — a prestigious sporting event held at alternating cities.

The 2016 Olympics will soon be kicking off at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, inducing excitement and anticipation for athletes and spectators alike.

However, the weeks leading up to the Games have not been entirely smooth-sailing.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, the South American city is still facing problems in its security, infrastructure and water quality days before the Summer Olympics. These struggles have again prompted the longstanding question: should the Olympics find a permanent location?

Host Cities

For nations tasked to host the Olympics, the event is an opportunity to showcase the country's culture to the world.

To select a host city, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) controls a bidding process that incentivizes or boosts cities to "promise more than they deliver," according to Inc. magazine.

So every four years, cities place their bids to host the Games, and it's almost a "win-big" situation.

The bid is often poised as a potential financial bloom to the host city, resulting in new infrastructure that cost billions of dollars, hundreds of millions spent on local businesses, and millions more generated in tourism-related revenue.

Indeed, the main argument as to why alternating cities should host the Games is that the billions can compensate as an investment in the future. However, things aren't always what they seem.

Should The Olympics Find A Permanent Home?

While the proposition to find a fixed location for the Olympics is not entirely new, it does pop up every now and then.

Protests over the upcoming games and the "flaws" of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi may support the cause.

In 1999, government officials in Athens offered to act as the permanent host for the Games amid a corruption issue in the selecting process. At that time, most experts believed that the pros of unraveling a new city every two years far outweighed the cons.

Now, the logistics that lead up to the Games have been particularly challenging: there's the immense expense for building stands and stadiums that will only be used for a few weeks, as well as the issues of inviting media and athletes to a city.

For instance, the venues for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, which resulted in such a huge expense that many say led to the plunge of Greece's economy, are now idle.

Still, the IOC asserts that the rotation of host cities offers concrete and tangible benefits. IOC President Jacques Rogge says host cities become "temporary stewards" of the Olympic Movement, receiving a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to display the celebration of the "human spirit."

Rogge says host cities can imprint economic, social and environmental legacies that can change a community forever.

One former Olympic committee member isn't as idealistic. Gerhard Heiberg, a member who led the 1994 Norway Winter Olympic Games, says the current event in Rio de Janeiro is the biggest challenge the officials have ever faced.

"We need some assurance it will be a success," says Heiberg.

Although the IOC has stopped thinking about universality and has instead proposed standbys, some believe finding a permanent home for the Games may not be so bad.

A piece from The Washington Post explains: the ancient Greeks had performed the Olympics in the same Peloponnese sanctuary for years, but there is no known record of complaints.

"We should do something similar for the modern Olympics," the report said. "Pick a city or country to be the permanent host — one each for the Summer and Winter Olympics."

Greece is the most obvious choice for the Summer Olympics because of its history, and the additional tourism revenue may help the country pay off its debts, the report said.

In the meantime, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will kick off at Rio de Janeiro this Friday, Aug. 5. What happens then may determine whether it is best to find a permanent home for the Olympics or not.

Photo: Alistair Ross | Flickr

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