It’s time for an Olympic makeover.
No, not the female athletes from behind the Iron Curtain who for years looked more masculine than The Marlboro Man.
I’m talking about fundamental changes in where and how the Olympics are staged.
No longer can the world afford a new Olympic venue every four years. There is too much at stake to have to deal with lax security in countries that cannot even care for their own residents. If a city’s residents live in squalor, how can that same city be expected to provide security, adequate housing and safe venues for the thousands of Olympic athletes and fans who take in the Games.
There needs to be one city that can stage the Olympics every four years.
Or, there needs to be a small group of cities that rotate as Olympic venues.
Some in the media have suggested Greece as a logical site to hold the Olympics every four years.
Others have suggested a group of cities — say London, Australia, Tokyo and Chicago.
It makes sense. Either way, these host cities will work with the International Olympic City to build or maintain facilities as needed. It seems as if it would be easier to provide security in this situation.
It’s not fair to athletes, nor those who come to watch the Olympics, to have to worry about what conditions are going to be like when they get to the site of the Games. An athlete who has trained for years, if not a lifetime, should not have to worry about competing in water contaminated with raw sewage.
It doesn’t make sense for countries and cities to bankrupt themselves by building new stadiums and new venues that will rarely — if ever — be used again.
Every four years we hear stories about athlete housing in the Olympic Villages: doors that don’t lock or don’t exist; the lack of running water; sewers and sanitation systems that back up; shoddy security.
I’m mostly talking about the summer games. But I think the for Winter Games, it makes even more sense. How often does someone actually use a facility used for speed skating, or curling, or luge, or ski jumping.
Many cities have faced financial peril after spending billions to prepare for Summer of Winter Games.
The way the IOC bids out its Games makes it impossible for a city to be a host unless they promise the world, no matter what reality says they’ll be able to actually do.
That’s why a new venue every four years no longer makes sense.
The billions that Brazil and the city of Rio de Janeiro spent preparing for the Olympics could have been better spent on infrastructure and housing and basic needs for impoverished residents.
But in my mind, security is the bigger issue.
Countries struggling to get buildings and highways and transportation systems done in the nick of time to be ready for the Olympics have to cut corners. They cheat on quality . They fudge inspections and they ignore safety protocols.
With the spread of terrorism through the world, and the availability of deadly weapons that can kill thousands in a matter of hours, even seconds, the price of being careless with security is too high.
I pray something terrible does not happen the next few weeks in Rio.
But I fear lax security has been a calling card for someone intent on making a deadly point at the Summer Games.
The IOC wields too much power, and accepts too many favors while being wooed by cities that want to host Olympic Games. Whether that wooing includes expensive gifts, fancy dinners, luxurious vacations, free airfare, or outright cash bribes is for someone else to determine.
But to me, choosing a site for the Olympics is kind of like Liars Poker: The city representatives that tell the biggest lies, promise the fanciest venues — or grease the most palms — usually win. But rarely does that winning city have the best hand.
Rio is just the latest example of the IOC’s ineptness.
Olympic events are going to be staged in arenas (waters) that contain harmful bacteria, human waste and even the remains of humans and animals. A large part of Rio de Janeiro includes no sewer or sanitation system. That waste and filth is pumped into the water that surround Rio is the same water that hundreds of athletes will compete in.
How can IOC members justify awarding the Olympics to cities unable to take care of their own own residents … let alone prep for the Olympics?