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Why does nobody want to host the Olympics anymore?

The IOC has voted to award two Olympic Games simultaneously for the first time in a century, due to a lack of candidates. DW takes a look at why no-one seems to be interested in hosting the Games anymore.

Hosting the Olympics has always been perceived to carry an enormous deal of prestige, along with vague promises of 'sporting legacies.' It seems that, increasingly, that’s proving not proving to be enough to attract cities around the world.

In the past couple of years, Hamburg, Stockholm, Krakow, Munich, Davos, Boston, Rome and Budapest are among the cities that have been in the frame for summer or winter Olympics. All have since withdrawn, largely as a result of public concerns about costs and value for money.

Bewerbung Olympia 2024 Los Angeles USA (picture-alliance/dpa/C.Krupa)

The people of Boston were not keen on the Games coming to their city

Those withdrawals have left the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, not exactly renowned as a winter sports staple and Paris and Los Angeles as the only candidates for the 2024 summer Olympics. The lack of candidates for the next two Summer Games means the IOC will now award Paris the 2024 Olympics and hand it to Los Angeles in 2028. 

What happens when the party's over?

The reasons for public concern seem clear cut. Just months after the 2016 Games in Rio, pictures started emerging showing the decay and disarray of many of Brazil's Olympic venues, particularly the flagship Maracana stadium.

Even London, one of the world's wealthier cities, has failed to really address the issue of what happens after the curtains are drawn on the closing ceremony. A city with several large stadiums was granted another for 2012. It was initially scheduled for athletics use after the Games, then granted to Premier League club West Ham United in an effort to stop it going the same way as its Brazilian counterpart.

The solution has proved unpopular with the club's fans and British taxpayers, who are funding several aspects of the stadium's operations including security and catering, as well as the conversion of the venue after the Games, a process that took four years.

Is it really worth it?

In the days leading up to the IOC's announcement, political figures from Paris and Los Angeles were keen to talk up the somewhat intangible qualities that Games have always been said to bring to a city.

"In a fractured world where tensions are resurgent, we need the values of peace and tolerance that the Olympic movement illustrates and embodies strongly," said French President Emmanuel Macron.

"In this crazy moment in the world, when so much is unsure let's bring what we know to be true and good and that is the Olympic movement", added Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti.

Watch video 03:49

Olympic double hosting decision due

Extravagant party

But the public aren't buying it any more. Rather than the nebulous concept of Olympic values, people seem more concerned with how it will impact their pockets.

"The problem has been the perceived extravagance of the Olympic Games and the more or less unlimited expenditure that cities and countries are expected to make, and the limited use that these facilities have after the event," said Stefan Szymanski, co-director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Sport Management and expert on Olympics economics in an interview with Australian website news.com.au. "There’s been a lot of evidence of 'white elephants' and derelict Olympic facilities."

Therein lies the rub. While Macron and Garcetti are certain to be celebrating their success, the residents of their cities may well be left wondering whether an Olympic brand tarnished by doping scandals and sporting withdrawals that have challenged its status as the world's pre-eminent sporting event, is worth the hassle and expense.

 

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