It has been reported that the infrastructure construction for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio are in even worse shape than in the run-up to the Athens Games in 2004. Social unrest also grips Brazil as people question the nation’s priorities.
In a recent poll, only 48% of the population were happy playing host to the World Cup tournament in a country where futbol is a religion.
Olympic costs will far exceed those of the World Cup – a projection of $18 billion vs. $11 billion for the latter. The new stadium is about $100 million over budget.
Regardless of the costs, the IOC may have to make what might be the most controversial decision in sports history if it appears that the facilities in Rio will be largely unfinished by the opening ceremonies. It could move the Games to an alternate location.
Although everything would be done to avoid such an embarrassment, it is not out of the question, especially if major venues are not in condition to offer competitors and fans a safe experience. If public unrest grows, fears of riots could drive countries to pull their national teams from the Games.
The point of no return is rapidly approaching – say by September of this year. A go or no-go decision will have to be made.
So what city would be capable of stepping up?
Conceivably, London could, but the chances are virtually zero the IOC would allow the same city to host back-to-back Games.
The facilities used for Athens and Beijing are rotting away.
No city in the world can match Los Angeles for its combination of sports infrastructure, balmy weather, die-hard fans and, most of all, the entrepreneurial character of its business community. Add to that, you could have Mitt Romney manage the preparation and staging of the Games. He could go down in history as having been behind two financially successful Olympics in a world where it is an achievement for the host city to simply avoid bankruptcy. Put it this way, it offers a much better opportunity than running for president again.
But could a Los Angeles Olympics earn a surplus?
The 1984 Games made a surplus of $232 million against $546 million in costs, a 42% return . Much of the surplus was funneled into an endowment – LA84 – that still contributes to sports programs benefiting local children and schools today.
We have much more riding in our favor these days. Besides the experience and lessons learned from 1984, we have a vastly larger commuter rail system, more hotel beds and key new facilities, such as the Staples Center, to complement older serviceable arenas.
We do not need new stadiums, only upgrades.
Beach volleyball anyone? I mean real beach volleyball.
Local colleges can provide housing for many athletes. Many residents would open their doors to athletes and team personnel as well.
Of course residents could benefit from one of the best tax breaks around – you can rent your dwelling tax-free for fourteen days no matter how much you charge. It would be enough to make many people leave town and reduce the traffic load.
Perhaps Mayor Garcetti and the County Board of Supervisors could quietly suggest to the IOC that Los Angeles stands ready if needed.