My Views

Monday, August 08, 2016

Olympics in the need for reinventing itself

Sports events have lost the fan following in past two decades. Opening and closing ceremonies used to be spectacular displays leaving the viewers wonderstruck. These were also demonstration of the prowess of the host country.
These spectacular displays no longer impress the people because they have seen similar or much better than those on TV and videos received through WhatsApp. And any country with money to spend can get the event management agencies to do this task for them.
Too many events happen together. It is difficult to follow. Too much information is available. It is bewildering. And that makes it uninteresting.
Despite vigorous arguments from the organisers an honest appraisal leads us to the conclusion that money spent on these is largely a waste.
The largest beneficiary of such an event are the contractors and corrupt officials.
Before such an event, large sums of  money are spent on improving infrastructure. Some of it is useful like better airport, train stations, roads, bridges, flyovers and better housing  (in a limited way)
Hotels are encouraged to increase their capacity. These hotels find their occupancy rates quite low after the event is over. And that makes the investment a loss.
Investment in sports facilities suffers from low utilization after the event. Evidence is at hand. Look at the facilities created in Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi. Barring Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium other facilities are not even utilised for 10 % of the time. We saw the same plight of Beijing Sports facilities created during 2008 Olympics.
So what is the solution?
I have following suggestions:
1. Olympics should not be given to a City but to a country. Today a city hardly has ability to host such a big event. High time that Olympic Association recognises this basic fact. After all who are the members of Olympic Association?  Countries - some 200 odd and not 2000 cities.
2. All games need not be hosted by same city. Let the host country distribute the game sites within say a 500 km radius. (USA, Canada, Russia, China, Australia have such wide geographies that such a restriction would be needed ) This would mean even growth of that area.
3. The schedule of the total event should be more spread out. Instead of 2 weeks it should be spread out to 8 weeks.
4. Sports facilities largely should be created in the vicinity of a University or a big educational institution like IIT and handed over to the institution after the games are over. This would lead to better utilization of the facility after the event is over.
5. Sports persons should be allowed to stay back in the country for one to two weeks to travel around after their individual games are over.