Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Hosting an international sporting event...

Hosting international sporting events in countries that seem fundamentally unsuitable for them appears to be a growing trend amongst avaricious and bung-loving global sporting administrators. Gone are the days when the suitability of a country’s human rights record or even its climate was considered to be a key factor in deciding whether to award the hosting privileges of the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup. Now the only thing that matters is the fatness of the wad shoved into the back pockets of corrupt administrators as they are courted by unsavoury governments the world over. Oh well, what to do? ZEITguide has decided to take a look at what makes a great international sporting event...

1.       Mystifyingly lavish expenditure on one particular item – Sochi 2014 has outdone several of its past competitors on this front, spending mind-boggling amounts on several items. From the nightmare-inducing giant animatronic teddy bears of the opening ceremony, to the biggest flat screen television the world has ever seen – Sochi 2014 has spent more money on hosting than all the previous Winter Olympics combined. Perhaps the most lavish item is the $8 billion Polyana Highway (with most of the money ending up in the mink-lined pocket of an oligarch), which one Russian commentator suggested would have been cheaper to build had it been paved with gold or caviar. It does have a pretty nice petrol station on it though.

2.       Completely unsustainable finance arrangement – Whilst Sochi’s eye-watering expenditure is to be sustained by unusually high oil prices and a nationwide policy of investing zero Rubles in Russia’s under-privileged, other countries haven’t been able to rely on a wealth of natural resources or a penchant for despotism to fund their profligacy. The $1.5 billion spent on the Montreal Olympics in 1976 was only paid off by the Quebec state government in 2006, and the debt incurred by the Greek government in hosting Athens 2004 helped create a sovereign debt crisis that continues to tear the country to shreds even today. Sadly for the Canadians and the Greeks, they had neither oil, nor Putin.

3.       Ah Human rights, human schmites! – From as long ago as the Berlin Olympics of 1936, international sporting event organisers have chosen to casually overlook a nation’s domestic human rights record, in favour of finding the best, most shiny place to host a big party. The FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the latest selection to follow this trend, with studies showing that in certain parts of Doha, grains of sand have a greater entitlement to human rights than the South-Asian workers currently constructing the stadiums.

A quick look at the Athens 2004 stadium today suggests it wasn't a wise investment.

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