The most to host. The bribes for sites. The pay-to-bring-play. The nicknames for the distasteful industry that has become the site selection process for international-level sports events has awakened once again the discussion about having permanent sites for those events.
A recent editorial in The Conversation is the latest to jump into the fray by suggesting there be one permanent home for the Olympics.
“With a central venue, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can in one masterstroke confirm its rightful place as the epicenter of global sporting excellence and underscore the ideals of the Olympiad where peace and social justice can be promoted through a common global language of sport,” the article reads. “The time has come to dump the piecemeal reforms and decide on a permanent venue for our flagship tournament; it would centralize control over events and even the training of the athletes.”
It’s certainly not the first time this has been suggested. In the last decade, a vocal minority has become louder and louder, espousing the creation of a standardized set of locations for large sports events.
“It is time for sports to stop victimizing our cities. If holding big events in the same place every time is good enough for tennis and golf, it’s good enough for American football and the Olympics,” noted Alex Pareene in Salon.
Think Progress has similar ideas, although an article carried on this site notes suggestions for the World Cup as well. In fact, Think Progress wants specifically designated rotating sites for the Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics and World Cup.
The Conversation noted the use of one site for the Olympics would eliminate the problems, expense and unfairness to current residents, caused by countries’ need to create a manufactured ‘global village’ every four years:
“Host nations and cities want a sanitized space where imagined visions can be projected to spectators and the global community. Unsightly landscapes are removed and people are moved out of their homes, historic communities are broken down and cost overruns feed into national budgets and can damage citizens’ quality of life. In other words, the regeneration narrative is no simple tale to pull off; it is fraught with contradictions, questionable in its motivations and unverifiable in its results.”
Other points in favor of one specific site:
Security: One site means fewer variables when it comes to security, with a trained force of professionals whose only job it was to keep the event secure.
Atmosphere: Cue the reports about the sewage in Rio’s waters that had FINA so worried. The selection of one venue would allow the IOC to choose a place without environmental threats.
Competition Venues: The World Cup in Russia is fast approaching, and according to all reports, the country is woefully unprepared, with a budget shortfall that has resulted in a dearth of hotels, training fields and more. Oh, wait, come to think of it, it’s really reminiscent of the time journalist arrived in Sochi ahead of the Olympics and hilariously tweeted their observations to a waiting world. A permanent site for the Olympics (or one or more permanent sites for the World Cup, for that matter) could mean being always ready to host.
Less Doping: Oh, this is a tricky one for sure. But The Conversation says that a permanent site could keep doping at these sports events under control: “A single site would allow for tighter controls over performance enhancement, and more efficient and environmentally friendly delivery of Olympic Games competitions. There would be no reliance on diverse national approaches to each. It would also allow the IOC to more easily limit protests and maintain a safe environment for participation, rather than attempting to insert a massive logistical intrusion into one of the world’s major cities. All good news for any skittish corporate sponsors, who would also have their marketing investment more readily protected (no more troublesome “exclusion zones” perhaps).”
Of course, there’s also a number of drawbacks, including: if the event(s) are hosted in a specific country (or countries) over and over, those countries are going to be picking up a sizeable tab each time. Not all economies are ready for that. And if something untoward should happen to the designated host country – political unrest, war, a terror attack, etc. – where could the event be held instead?
Whether or not the IOC (or FIFA or the NFL or anyone else) takes any of these recommendations seriously is purely conjectural. But as the fallout from FIFA continues to reverberate through the sports industry, it’s a conversation that almost certainly will be brought up again.