Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Olympic Games permanently Near Olympia?

This is a wonderful article by Nikos Konstandaras. He suggests that, instead of travelling from city to city, there should be a permanent Olympic site and that the best place for it would be near ancient Olympia. I will not comment on the historic, emotional and idealistic aspects of this proposal; only on the economic ones.

A permanent site near Olympia would be a bonanza for the Greek economy (assuming that the cost of it would be shared by the Olympic world and not carried by Greece). In all likelihood, there will be Olympic Games in a hundred years from now, so that would be an 'investment which is needed' (instead of an investment for the purpose of spending money) and it would be a recurring investment as long as the Games take place.

If all countries could agree that a permanent site is a good idea and that Greece would be the right place for it, things would be easy. Presumably every country would agree that it is a good idea but probably no country would agree to award the 'gravy' associated with the Games to only one country. So, this proposal must be considered as an illusion.

But what a nice illusion it is!


  1. This would of course deprive all the debt-creating organisations of an important weapon...The Olympic festival leaves behind huge debts and unused ruin-stadia all over the world every 4 years....

    1. That's exactly what the linked article by Nikos Kostandaras (I recommend reading it) discusses. And that's why having only one location would make eminent sense (only marginal investments going forward; costs shared by all and not burdened on one country).

  2. When the international Olympic Games were created with the first in Athens in 1896, many of its participants also had the idea that Greece would be its permanent home. The Greeks in particular saw it as a national project, whereas the French pioneer Coubertin had no interest in Greece or in history and intended a "modern international sporting festival of youth, a travelling circus that would move from one great city to another" (Llewellyn Smith, 2004). In this French modernist and essentially internationalist vision of Coubertin, one can see the clear origins of the waste of resources attached to the modern OIlympics (along with corruption and money-making).

    Ironically, all of the Olympics held in Athens -- in 1896, 1906 and 2004 -- have been great successes, whereas the 1900 Games in Paris and the 1904 Games in St Louis were dismal failures. In fact, the Greek games of 1906 are generally thought to have saved the future of the Olympics, but Coubertin and the Olympic Committee refuse to call them Olympic Games. The call them the Intercalated Olympic Games.

    There is a lesson here for Greeks: the foundations of structures are normally path-determining, and this is the time to fight and establish how things should work. Continuously wanting to revise and change completely established structures or agreements is counterproductive and merely irritates those in power.

    I am afraid to say that Mr Konstandaras repeats all the usual mistakes of Greeks. He has not learned any lessons from history.