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The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

Posted July 28, 2016 11:00 AM by HUSH

With less than 10 days until the athletic events begin, the Olympics news cycle is beginning to ramp up. Yet with few sporting stories to report, the focus is currently fixed on how Brazil and Rio de Janeiro are
preparing for the massive but temporary influx of athletes, Olympic officials and tourists.

So to satisfy the hosting requirements of the International Olympics Committee, cities and nations pledge massive upgrades to living facilities, utilities and transportation. It’s why three of the past four Olympics have been the most expensive. In order: 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi ($51 billion), 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing ($44 billion), 2012 Summer Olympics in London ($10.4 billion). While some of the money goes toward the athletic venues and the games, a large portion ends up spent on new and improved infrastructure.

In 2014, there were #SochiProblems. The online trend was used to document the many inadequacies of the Sochi infrastructure improvements, even as athletes and guests arrived. London was also scrambling to finished Olympic venues in the weeks before the Opening Ceremony. And preparations for the Athens games were severely mismanaged, so much so that the expedited construction in the final weeks of Athens’ projects doubled the initial cost.

ESPN reports that currently 21 of 31 Rio Olympics village buildings are uninhabitable due to plumbing or electrical issues, or just general unfinished construction. While the Italian team hired contractors to finish their quarters, the American team seemed to understand this is the going trend for Olympic games.

Problems in Rio extend beyond poor living quarters. Guanabara Bay, which will host this year’s sailing and windsurfing events, receives the sewage of the 12 million Rio residents, 70% of which goes untreated. It and several other water venues are home to potent super bacteria. Along the beach volleyball venue shoreline, body parts have washed up. Brasil’s promise to invest in water treatment and waterway remediation, which was a major selling point to the IOC, seems like a sure failure.

Evidence suggests that hosting the Olympics has a negative economic impact. Rio de Janeiro and Brazil are ponying up an estimated $13.2 billion for this year’s Olympics, but that price will likely grow according to Reuters, which in May estimated that Rio only had ten percent of its Olympics projects completed.

Olympics officials will point out the lasting infrastructure improvements that result. Often these infrastructure projects are late, overbudget, or not even an upgrade, and then are weighed down by the legacy of white elephant stadiums, hotels and convention centers.

From the public works perspective, the Olympics are a failure more often than not.

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#1

Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

07/28/2016 11:54 AM

It is sad, this state of the modern Olympics.

Can this be fixed?

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#3
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Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

07/29/2016 8:52 AM

It's the same problem in the everyday real world. Bureaucrats just don't know what it takes or how long it takes to do something properly. How often have you heard, "just get it done". Only so much can be done in a given period of time, even if done in the most efficient way.

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#8
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Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

08/07/2016 11:09 PM

Somewhere recall reading that bureaucrats only like projects where they get good face time (cutting ribbons on new bridges vs fixing potholes that will rip a wheek off a vehicle).

So while both are laudable, guess which project gets the funding?

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#2

Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

07/28/2016 2:18 PM

They should just have them (Summer Olympics) in Greece every 4 years and keep investing in the infrastructure in one location.

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#4

Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

08/01/2016 7:58 PM

If you keep doing what you always did, you'll keep getting what you always got!

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#5
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Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

08/04/2016 3:24 PM

Apparently, a few new tricks are available to the officials.

The keys to the Olympic Stadium have been lost. Nope, not kidding. Had to break in. Also apparent is the airtight physical security of the facility, which was breached with a bolt cutter.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/olympics/rio-official-somehow-loses-keys-to-olympic-stadium/ar-BBvg9S9?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp

Wow... is there anything good to be reported? The Games haven't even started.

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#6
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Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

08/05/2016 4:52 PM

I heard on NPR late yesterday afternoon that the torch bearer had to be protected from Rio's citizens by police in riot gear, with smoke grenades (or tear gas?), and with sporadic firing of rubber bullets. Those are not smart bullets, but I suspect they sure do smart.

They need to make the Olympic venue to be modular construction, easily picked up and moved to the next host city. This would reduce costs by astronomic values. Then the host cities could put in a park afterwards to commemorate the games, or just leave a hole in the city for homeless people to dwell.

The better alternative has already been mentioned: put the Olympics in Greece and leave them there (except for the winter games), because it is in fact a Greek invention, and they deserve to reap at least some benefits. The venue could be used for other events between Olympic contests, and would be funded only by the international community that participates. Pay to play, something like that.

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#7
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Re: The Recurring Olympics Infrastructure Issue

08/07/2016 11:04 PM

If what you always did worked, and what you always got was acceptable so what?

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