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Just when you thought sports couldn’t get any, uh, weirder, the idea that the Olympics may become a thing of the past isn’t so far-fetched.
For starters, it seems no one wants to host the Games anymore, as noted in a long columnn by Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel.
“The IOC was once the belle of a global ball, with famed and beautiful metropolises begging for the chance to host their Games,” Wetzel wrote. “The last time Australia hosted — 2000 in Sydney — it defeated eight competing cities, including five finalists. It required four rounds of voting to prevail.”
Those days seem to be long gone. Instead, the International Olympic Committee has become short on bidders. Interest from the general public has also waned, with viewership hitting a major low.
How bad are the ratings? Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch presented a dire picture.
“Monday’s primetime coverage of the Tokyo Summer Olympics averaged 15.8 million viewers across NBC’s various platforms, down 38% from the comparable night of the Rio Summer Games in 2016 (24.3M),” Lewis reported. “Versus the comparable night of the most recent Olympics, the Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018, viewership fell 15% from 18.6 million.
“The 38 percent drop is actually on the modest side in this Olympics, snapping a streak of seven straight nights in which viewership fell by more than 40 percent.”
You have to wonder if the athletes themselves even care. As for the hosts, it’s not much prettier.
“[There’s been] a loss in public confidence in the Olympic Movement,” an IOC report concluded, via Wetzel. “… Some cities found it challenging to secure government, private and public support and pulled out of the process, sometimes following a loss referendum [by voters].”
You also have to consider the cost. The Summer Olympics are currently being staged in Tokyo, and Japan officials have said the 2020 Games have cost more than $15 billion.
There are no fans at these Games, and because of resurfaced COVID-19 fears, Tokyo lost a lot of money in ticket sales, hotel reservations, restaurants and other forms of revenue. So yes, some of the losses have been caused by dumb luck. That is surely something other wannabe hosts should consider.
“You don’t just need a fortune to host the Olympics, you need good fortune, and no one can guarantee the latter,” Wetzel wrote. “So why risk it?”
In other words, the Olympics are trending toward big spending … and little return. Those types of setups usually lead to extinction.
“What was once heralded as a chance to showcase your city or your country while throwing a once-in-a-generation party is now seen with great skepticism among the public,” Wetzel wrote.
The Games will certainly take place again soon. In fact, Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in just a few months. But, barring significant changes in funding and the protocols established by the IOC, the long-term future of the Olympics Games looks bleak.