Why Nobody Wants to Host the 2022 Olympics

Michael Etezadi |

Next summer, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) will have its election deciding which city will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. It’ll come down to a narrow race between two host cities. Yet I may need to emphasize that it’s not because the IOC will narrow down it’s choices to two cities, it’s because there’s only two cities to choose from.

On October 1st, 2014, Oslo, Norway became the fourth city out of the six original finalist (Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv being the others) to drop it’s bid from hosting the 2022 games, leaving Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan as the two finalist. Beijing looks to be the favorite to win the bid for the 2022 games, making it the first city to ever host both the Summer and Winter Olymipic, even though Almaty is still making a strong last second effort. What is the main story line that is catching everyone’s attention though, is how come there are only two cities bidding for the 2022 games? How come nobody wants to host the Olympics?

The memories from the Olympic games are the ultimate reward for many nations. (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)
The memories from the Olympic games are the ultimate reward for many nations. (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)

What was once viewed as a prestigious event where a nation could showcase itself to the entire world, has now been viewed more of an economic burden. In addition to the four finalist cities that dropped their bids, 14 other cities that originally had interest, decided not to bid for the games. All had the same reason, Price. Hosting the Olympics does bring prestige, but that prestige comes with a price tag. Last year’s 2014 games held in Sochi, Russia is estimated to have cost the country $51 billion dollars. The 2022 games are not expected to be as costly as the Sochi games, but bidding countries were still looking at costs in the billions of dollars range. To go along with the sticker shock, public opinion has also been a major factor in countries dropping their bids.

The memories from the Olympic games are the ultimate reward for many nations. (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)
Julia Mancuso. The Olympics bring the top athletes from all over the world  (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)

Finalist Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo, Norway and Krakow, Poland all held public votes with results showing major opposition to hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, with Krakow having as much as 70% opposed. Lviv, Ukraine withdrew its bid due to the uncertainty of the ongoing conflict it has in the Crimea peninsula with 2014 Olympic host Russia.  Even other cities that were not finalist but bid for the games, such as Munich, Germany and St. Montiz, Switzerland, withdrew as well due to a majority of the general population opposing it.

“The vote is not a signal against the sport, but against the non-transparency and greed for profit of the IOC. I think all possible Olympic bids in Germany are now out of question. The IOC has to change first. It’s not the venues that have to adapt to the IOC, but the other way around.” – Ludwig Hartman a German politician after his country withdrew

There was much speculation on the bidding process for the 2014 Winter Olympics and $51 billion dollars it cost.
Russian President Vladimir Putin. There was much scrutiny on the bidding process for the 2014 Winter Olympics and $51 billion dollars it cost.

The IOC is also battling a a major PR battle globally. Non-revenue sharing with host countries to go along with athletes not being paid and stories of outrageous demands have hurt the committee’s image. After Oslo withdrew its bid from the games, Norway’s largest national daily newspaper, VG, printed a story listing all the demands the IOC had. This included cocktail parties in the royal palace with the tab being picked up by the local Olympic organizers, separate lanes on all roads for IOC members, and a red carpet ceremony on the tarmac when IOC members arrived at the airport. The IOC has denied the story by VG. Yet allegations of it’s bidding process by IOC committee members such as Alexey Navalny, specifically regarding the high cost for the 2014 games, have seen many developed countries, like the United States, not even bid at all for the 2022 games.

“Norway is a rich country, but we don’t want to spend money on wrong things, like satisfying the crazy demands from IOC apparatchiks,” said Frithjof Jacobsen, VG’s chief political commentator. “These insane demands that they should be treated like the king of Saudi Arabia just won’t fly with the Norwegian public.”

Another factor for many cities not bidding for the 2022 has to do with the fallout after the two week event has concluded, specifically the venues.

Images like these of decaying Olympic venues have become all too familiar. Bobsled run from the 194 games in Sarajevo
Images like these of decaying Olympic venues have become all too familiar. Bobsled run from the 1984 games in Sarajevo

 “Arranging a Winter Olympics would mean a big investment in new sports facilities, for example for the bobsleigh and luge,” the Moderate party of Sweden member stated, “There isn’t any need for that type of that kind of facility after an Olympics.”

This has become a common theme in recent Olympics where the venues, which cost the hosting city upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars each venue, are rarely used after the events. This link provides some chilling before and after photos of Olympic venues from past games Photos of Abandoned Olympic Stadiums. Cities around the world have taken notice and trying to justify the cost for a 2 week event (4 weeks with the Paralympics) does not seem reasonable to many.

“The real cost of the Games — the operating expenses, the upgrade to existing facilities — that will be paid off,” says Holger Preuss, professor of sports management at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “But the infrastructure costs will not. If you need new sports facilities, if you need new roads and railways, then it’s O.K. But if you don’t need general infrastructure, you shouldn’t bid. The Olympics are not about making money. If you want to make money, invest in an oil platform.”

Cities interested in bidding for the Olympics look at venues like this as reasons why hosting an event wouldn't be cost effective. 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens Greece.
Cities interested in bidding for the Olympics look at venues like this as reasons why hosting an event wouldn’t be cost effective. 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens Greece.

As these issues play a role in the current state of the 2022 Winter Games, it will become interesting to see if the IOC will see this as a signal for some sort of reform, or will they see this as an anomaly. Even with only two cities bidding for the games, it’s still two cities willing to pay the cost to host the games. IOC Thomas Bach, stated back in October after Stockholm’s withdrawal that, “The image is very positive. Nobody would enter into such kind of agreements if there would be a doubt on the image.” referencing the $7.75 billion dollar deal they had reached with NBC for U.S. TV rights through 2023. Even if so, what everyone will now focus on, is if this lack of bids for the games becomes a trend for future games, or just a rare event for 2022.

The question is, would you want your city to host the Olympic games? Is the cost worth the reward?






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14 thoughts on “Why Nobody Wants to Host the 2022 Olympics

  1. like it very much, excellent article and profound following link to the past Olympic site and the outcome..,
    keep the good articles coming our way,

  2. I agree that the IOC is in major need of a shake up, but who has the power to do that? Is there any oversight for the IOC at all from any government entity or are they privately run and organized?

  3. Good piece. The IOC is incredibly corrupt and this is not exactly breaking news. I hope a massive shake up is in the works for that organization.

    Using Sarajevo as an example for disused Olympic infrastructure doesn’t really add to the claim the story makes. I would submit that the whole genocide, war and siege situation contributed to the the decrepit bobsled track a little more than the financial difficulty of hosting the Olympics.

    1. If you actually click on the link in the article you’ll see the other venues look exactly the same as Sarajevo’s so yeah I think the main point was overall. Bejing and Athens weren’t in wars yet they also have unused venues that are rotting. Just a waste of money regardless and sad.

  4. I never thought about any of this, I can’t believe its not talked about more. Great article, I’ll be sharing this!

  5. Excellent story. What an eye opener.
    Does anyone know what is going on in Sochi now? Is it a thriving ski town? I guess not.

  6. I am now fully opposed to the IOC, and believe that their methods of corruption have ruined the games. Also, one-up-manship on the opening ceremonies is absurd. and the big money sponsorships were the final nail in the coffin. If it were still simple ice skating and ski racing, I’d be stoked.

    1. The IOC is so corrupt is’s sickening. I would never want these games anywhere near my hometown. The fact the athletes don’t get paid while the IOC guys are pocketing all the money.

  7. Andy Wirth wants to host winter Olympics at Squaw/Reno/Tahoe, says he can do it, but nobody seems to be listening.

    Gonna need a bigger snow-making water pipe though considering the lack of natural snow fall and increased average temps. Maybe tap into Lake Tahoe itself??

    It was well publicized that the prior winter games to Sochi in Whistler/Vancouver were extremely expensive and construction of necessary infastructure is continually a net negative financial proposition.

    The Olympics are not what they used to be, mostly for commercial television rights to the highest bidder to sell us more disposable consumer crap which nobody needs anyhow. Quite a farce IMO.

  8. Well said. We saw the negative impact the games had in Brazil and in Russia. It’s unfortunate it’s become a burden rather than an opportunity. However – We have seen 1 positive result of the 2018 games in South Korea: just last week the Humane Society announced the closure of a dog meat farm in SK. The dogs were rescued and brought to the U.S., and an agreement was signed to stop the farm from slaughtering dogs. Could this be because the country knows all eyes will soon be on them?

  9. What an interesting article. I work in the news and am amazed how this hasn’t made more mainstream headlines. An event, once so popular cities would give almost anything to host them, to now, a battles between two hosts in a world with millions of cities. Definitely will wait to see how this turns out.

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