The Olympics and its Cities

The 2018 Winter Olympics is currently happening in Pyeongchang amid various concerns and criticisms around the IOC. The host of this year’s Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, will host its first ever Winter Olympic games. The city lies 110 miles from Korea’s capital Seoul. People have raised concerns against the IOC in Pyeongchang surrounding the deforestation around the Gariwang Mountain to build an alpine skiing area for the event. Environmental activists are cynical as the forest includes old growth of ancient and rare species. To solve issues like these the IOC came up with a model of Olympic Agenda 2020. In this article, I’ll be discussing one of the agendas taken up by the IOC to improve future Olympics.

In recent years, the Olympics have lost its title as the stage where best athletes compete for greatness. Recent games have been rife with overspending, controversies etc. And most people don’t see the lasting damages it does to the host city. Could we be watching the death of Olympics? Hosting is expensive. Every game in the last 50 years has gone over budget. The 2014 Sochi Olympics went above its 10 billion dollar budget by an additional 41 billion dollars. Host cities used to make a huge profit from the games. Partly because they collected a lot of revenue in TV rights. But recently the IOC has been taking a lot of percentages. In the 90s, for example, they used to take 4% revenue compared to that of 70% they took in the 2016 Rio Games. A newly built stadium costs around 30 million dollars a year. Most cities don’t know what to do with these stadiums. So they go into decay, which costs the property value. So who would want to host the Olympics in the first place? After each financial failure fewer cities bid to host the games.         After all, it takes 10 years of planning just to be in the running to be the host. Chicago spent around 100 million dollars just for campaigning for the 2016 games and they lost.

The Olympic business model is outdated. When Coubertin in 1896 started the games, he was dedicated to the rotation model. That games becoming something that the major cities would fight for. We’ve adhered to that 19th-century model while the world has passed it by. Sadly, the people who undergo the costs of that resolution aren’t the IOC — they’re the residents of the host city. So in 2010, to come up with some solutions to all these problems, the IOC came up with the Olympic Agenda 2020. It is the strategic roadmap for future of the Olympic Movement. They have 40 agendas, with each agenda included with an aim of safeguarding the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and strengthening sport in society.

Out of those 40 recommendations, one of the key areas is the idea of further strengthening the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in between. It is for the first time in the history of winter games that Olympians who are also artists have been invited to Pyeongchang as part of IOC’s “Olympic Art Project”. Four athletes will share the idea of Olympism through art. Over the course of 17 days, they will be reconnecting with the model of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Games, for whom “the arts and letters, in harmonious combination with sport, shall ensure the greatness of the Olympic Games”.

Out of the four participants, Ms. Pappas is the only active athlete. The 27-year-old distance runner raced for Greece in the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a national record of 31:36.16 in the 10,000-meter run. In Pyeongchang, Ms. Pappas and Mr. Teicher will create a series of short narrative films which will feature the actor Nick Kroll. Current Olympic athletes will also make appearances. The films will draw on Ms. Pappas’s experience as an Olympic athlete in the 2016 Games and Teicher’s experience as a spectator.

Roald Bradstock is a two-time British Olympic javelin thrower (GBR- 1984 & 1988) and an award-winning international Olympic sports artist (USA – 2000). He will be overlooking the creation of 16 paintings in the span of 15 days. Each painting dedicated to one of the 15 Olympic events. Joining him in felicitating this event would be Jean-Blaise Evéquoz. He is a Swiss fencer and an artist. He won a bronze medal in fencing in the 1976 Olympic Games. He is a professional artist exhibiting all around the world. With the athlete, Al Oerter, he is one of the initiators of the Art of Olympians Association (AOTO), which brings together former Olympic athletes converted to art. Joining both of them is Lanny Barnes, the American biathlete will return to the Winter Olympic Games for the fourth time in a row. Together, Mr. Bradstock, Mr. Evéquoz, and Ms. Barnes will recruit athletes to paint and guide their process.

The idea of blending sports, art, and culture was recognized by the IOC as one of the many important aspects to rebuild lost Olympic spirit in recent times. In PyeongChang 2018, for the first time ever, Olympians who are also artists will take up a different challenge: bring the Olympic values to life through art and by coming together with athletes in the Olympic Village. These art initiatives echo the first fundamental principle laid down in the Olympic Charter:

Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life-based on the joy of effort, the educational value of a good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”

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Karan is a third-year Economics and Finance major. In Economics, the field of Microeconomics is of special interest to him. He enjoys watching and playing sports. He feels it is an escape for him from the world. Whenever his day is not going great he watches his favorite teams play to cheer him up.

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