When the torch goes out

Miranda Shelton, Opinion Editor

Rio De Janeiro is in trouble. An already struggling city was chosen to host the Olympics, and after years of preparation it’s over in the blink of an eye. What’s left? Decay, disgust and the soon death of an economy.


This isn’t a big surprise. Time and time again the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has chosen venues that simply cannot withstand the economic pressure hosting the Olympics can cause. They see it as a good thing, one that creates jobs and blesses poor countries with these state of the art sports facilities. They don’t seem to care about what happens when the torch finally goes out.


Take the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics as an example. According to CBS World News, they invested $2 billion for a month-long event, and now the buildings that once contained world record holders and gold medalists are now run down and filled with vermin. The 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics left the once beautiful ski jump track to be a refuge for homeless people, and during the Siege of Sarajevo, an execution site as well.


Now there aren’t all horror stories. Barcelona took a beautiful piece of art used to assist with the television signals during the Olympics and turned it into a local landmark, while still using it to broadcast signals through the area. London is still using a lot of the sports arenas, especially the soccer stadium which is now the home field of West Ham. In places like Rome, Moscow, and Los Angeles, the Olympic villages were turned into housing, although with a closer look you notice that they aren’t in great shape either.


There is one thing these places have in common. They had an economy which, during the time of their Olympic games, they could afford to invest billions of dollars, and afterwards invest more to make it something suitable to the public to use. Rio does not have this kind of money. Not only that, but the country is on edge. The majority of the citizens live below the poverty line, and they are angry. People who had spent their lives there, whose families had been there for generations were being relocated to build these billion dollar spaces. Now that the Olympics have come and gone, there is a literal wall between the lower and upper classes. It was built to hide the worst of the Rio slums from the Olympic tourists and rare few who are able to live in such a wealthy area, and in turn became a metaphor for the distancing between the two classes. The county is in trouble, and it is due to the IOC’s lack of critical thinking. Rio should not have been considered for its own sake.


While the IOC has done damage that in some countries is irreversible, it must take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


This isn’t happening anytime in the near future, which is made clear by the IOC choosing China for the 2022 winter Olympics. The country has suffered from the economic loss from their last winter games, and it certainly leaves room for concern about the aftermath of the upcoming one. It also poses the question: Is the committee aware of the toll the Olympics causes on such a country? And if so, do they care?


The IOC must take a hard look at its acceptance policies. It must stress to the countries entering the bidding just what the price of the Olympics can be. The committee must be realistic with the world.