I enjoy watching the Olympics; I always have. It’s a chance to view sports that aren’t usually televised (or if they are, I’m not watching), share the joy and pain of athletes who have trained their entire lives for one single moment, and of course, to root for the US of A.
But if you ask me about the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sochi, Russia, what I remember most unfortunately isn’t the surprising performance by the US men’s ice hockey team, or even the beautiful panoramic views of the well-known resort.
Instead, it was Bob Costas’ pink eye.
What I remember are the horror stories from media personalities about being locked out of hotels despite having made reservations months in advance; of water in hotel rooms that wasn’t safe to drink or bathe in; and pillows being a hot commodity.
Despite the fact that Sochi spent $50 billion to host the games, many questioned whether the city was, in fact, prepared for the influx of people that come with hosting the Olympics. Many questioned whether it had the infrastructure required to host such a colossal event.
It isn’t looking any brighter for the next two host cities, according to the Boston Globe, which reports that Rio de Janeiro, the 2016 summer host, has fallen so far behind that the International Olympic Committee has taken over preparations. Tokyo, which will stage the 2020 event, announced it is reviewing its venue plan with an eye to cutting costs.
And it’s not being unnoticed by cities that are — or once were — in the mix as future hosts. What used to be the bidding war to end all bidding wars of hosting the Olympics is losing steam. The list of potential cities for the 2022 Winter Games is dwindling by the week; even the US is apparently months away from knowing whether it wants to be in the hunt at all.
It’s quite a head-scratcher, especially since we’re only a few years removed from Chicago’s aggressive push for 2016 and New York’s 2012 bid, both of which were rejected. This was an event cities desperately wanted, and now, because of everything from faulty bidding processes to bad publicity to the enormous strain on the resources, it’s fallen quite far. It’s no longer the party you have to attend — or host, for that matter.
The lesson here is pretty clear. If you want to host a high-profile event or even pull off a big project, you better make sure you have all of your cards in order, and that you have the infrastructure, human capital, and funds to pull it off. Because if you don’t, you’ll have a whole lot of people seeing red… or pink.