You don’t need just one Mount Olympus

The London 2012 Olympics was, in my opinion, the biggest waste of taxpayers’ money to have occurred in my lifetime. For the amount it cost, we could have employed 500 teachers for nearly 1000 years. I’m not saying that the games shouldn’t have happened — there seem to be lots of people who enjoy watching other people jump into piles of sand — I simply think that it should have been funded entirely from the ticket prices and TV advertising.

It is, of course, entirely predictable — the Olympics is a financial disaster for almost every country that hosts it — but it’s less of a disaster for countries like the UK who have enough cash that they can take it in their stride. But when countries like Brazil, who have much more trouble funding their health services than we do, take it on, it probably moves from being stupid to being downright immoral.

So Paul Christesen’s article, Making the case for a new Olympic model, makes a lot of sense to me, and should not only dramatically cut costs, but should also reduce the large number of (essentially abandoned) stadia — I’ve visited quite a few of them — still standing around the world as monuments to the folly of politicians past. Actually, follies is a good word for them! Understandable follies, perhaps — Panem et circenses and all that, if you’ll excuse my mixing of classical references — but follies nonetheless.

It would be good for the Olympics to continue to exist, but for heaven’s sake, let’s do it in a way that makes sense in the modern world.

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser