Let The Games Be Shared
By Max Toth
The 2020 Olympic games aren't scheduled to begin for a few more weeks in Tokyo, Japan.
But there’s already a huge amount of drama surrounding the host city.
Due to a spike in recent COVID-19 cases, which have been blamed on Japan's slow vaccine rollout, the country's government has imposed a state of emergency which means we won’t see fans in the stands once the games roll around on July 23rd.
Obviously, the Tokyo Olympics are dealing with a strange and unique scenario created by a worldwide pandemic. However, it definitely isn’t the first time a city has struggled with the herculean task of hosting one of the world's biggest spectacles.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for example, was the host city for the 2016 Olympics and spent a whopping 11.1 billion dollars to build the venues and infrastructure necessary to stage the games. After the two week event wrapped up, (a fortnight that was marred by water and air pollution, crime, Russian doping scandals and even a virus scare of their own) those bank-breaking facilities were practically abandoned and have made hosting the Olympics look like a colossal mistake for Rio.
Because of the potential economic headaches, many cities have given up on pursuing the Olympics - and you can't really blame them.
But what if there was a better and less expensive way for potential Olympic cities to showcase their unique cultures without jeopardizing the safety and financial well-being of their citizens?
In my opinion, the Olympics should consider holding different events in different cities throughout the course of the Games. For example, the Olympic basketball tournament could take place in New York, while London holds tennis, Rome stages soccer, etc. Qualifying events for the Olympics are already spread out across the globe, so why not take it a step further and make that variety a part of the actual Games?
Just think about all of the potential plusses.
Instead of cash-strapped cities racing to complete astronomically expensive venues that will go to waste in just a couple of years, events would take place in stadiums that have already been built. That means the Olympic co-hosts could focus on making the experience for athletes, fans and the media as safe and enjoyable as possible.
"But what about all the best athletes on the planet congregating in one special place?," critics of our co-hosted Olympics might ask.
It's definitely true that a big part of the Games features the world coming together in one spot for all the festivities. However, the truth is that the Olympic Village (which houses athletes and media and is the supposed epicenter of the Games) is usually a massive letdown and a corner that often gets cut during the financial frenzy of Olympic preparations. The 2014 Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia, for instance, featured cramped rooms, numerous food complaints, packs of stray dogs roaming around, and even a case of pink eye for legendary NBC broadcaster Bob Costas - likely caused by the mysterious brown tap water that many people discovered in their rooms.
Those sketchy conditions don't exactly sound like the best method of hosting the world’s greatest athletes. But if different Olympic cities could focus on just one Olympic venue and event, there's no question that the experience would be much better for everyone involved.
My favorite part of the co-hosting plan, however, is that it would bring the Olympics to different cities that have never staged the Games, and might not get the opportunity in the future.
Jamaica, for example, has dominated the Olympic track and field scene in recent years, so why shouldn’t they get a chance to actually host the competition? With my system in place, a small country like Jamaica could get rewarded by hosting an event that they’ve provided so much talent to.
Closer to home, how fantastic would it be to see Toronto host the Olympic hockey tournament? The way things are shaping up for the underachieving Maple Leafs, I might not see a Stanley Cup in my lifetime. But watching Team Canada win another gold medal in my own hometown would be a pretty cool consolation prize.
At the 2020 Summer Olympics, however, Team Canada is bound for Tokyo. With COVID still raging in Japan, it's far from the perfect scenario. But even without the curse of a worldwide pandemic, hosting an Olympics has become too big of a headache for just one city.
"Faster, Higher, Stronger".... That's the official Olympic motto.
And that's exactly what the Games would be if the Olympic torch was allowed to burn in more than just one city at a time.