GamesBids.com presents the ninth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2016. These stories impacted the course of Olympic host city bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plot lines and story arcs for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st as the year ends – click on the links for details.
Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2016: #7 – Rio 2016 Woes Underline Bid City Risks; Impact 2024 Race
In one of our most read posts of the year, I wrote how amid a strong economy, promising growth and the potential offered by a new continent, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) elected Rio to host the 2016 Olympic Games – in 2009.
Rio seemed to be a safe bet as much of the world was suffering from a debilitating recession and bids from Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo weren’t able to topple the Brazilian candidate that pleaded to be the first South American city to host the Olympic Games.
But soon after Rio was chosen, the Brazilian economy began to falter, national and municipal priorities shifted and construction delays and cost overruns created great hurdles challenging the continent’s first Olympic Games. Seven years later Rio barely made it across the finish line, and months after the Games conclusion Rio 2016 is still struggling to settle the bills.
The lesson here is that seven years is a very long time, and a lot can change in a country after it has committed to host the biggest event on the planet.
Then while the microscope was aimed on the city, the stories turned to fears of the Zika virus, risks of faulty venues, threats from urban crime and polluted waters. Planning became chaotic when there were calls to either postpone or cancel the Games.
It was a struggle, but it’s a good thing that the games were allowed to go on.
But just as Sochi’s (USD) $51 billion price tag kept candidates away from the 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid (four voluntarily backing out among a field of six), Rio could have soured the opportunity for 2024 bidders.
Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest were, however, inspired to improve plans – to offer alternative proposals to the IOC that comprehended lessons-learned from the Rio experience. But for Rome, the negative experience became an opportunity for the city’s newly elected Mayor to fulfill her campaign promise to cancel the bid while instead funding essential city services. Pointing to cost overruns in Rio and with several prior bids, Mayor Virginia Raggi proudly removed crucial municipal support from the bid claiming it would be “irresponsible” to support it.
Will the IOC only elect cities from larger, more stable economies moving forward? Will that limit the number of cities “eligible” to bid? Time will tell.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.