Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Toronto Olympics: Insult, Injury, and AmuseRage

The successful NoBoston2024 campaign can teach us much about how to stop this madness.

Here is a 14-minute video featuring sports economist Andrew Zimbalist that I found rivetting and damning. (I normally can sit still for video for about 2-3 minutes max, but this kept me watching.)

He talks about the costs that boosters will talk about, the ones they won't, and how these costs get inevitably overrun.

He also blasts with more facts and figures the mythical benefits boosters tout.

If you're video-averse, here's an interview of him by Richard Florida that covers much of the same ground.

Intro to interview:
Zimbalist, who has studied the economics of stadiums and sports events for the past couple of decades, takes a clear-eyed look at the effects of much-hyped mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup on the cities that host them. His book [Circus Maximus], subtitled The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup, shows in precise detail how these events have become such bad deals.

The pull-quote:
"Attempting to shoehorn a city plan into a scheme subordinated to the demands of the IOC is bound for economic failure."

An almost throw-away point from the video about billboards got me looking further and I found this amazing document: What the IOC demands.

From rather (by comparison) picayune requirements like "Olympic lanes" on streets and highways, guaranteed hotel rooms for Olympic poohbahs, and exemption from customs duties, to rather more stunning demands for the abrogation of democracy, the document reads like a royal edict from some medieval century.

The IOC demands that cities give up control over their civic calendar.

Provide a declaration from the relevant authorities confirming that no other important national or international meeting or event will be taking place in the Host City itself or in its vicinity or in the other competition sites, during the Olympic Winter Games, or for one week immediately before or after the Games.
The IOC demands that the local organizing committee can sign contracts on behalf of the city.
Provide a declaration from your city authorities confirming that the Bid Committee is empowered to represent the Candidate City and indicate the names of the persons and/or their titles who have the authority to sign contracts and other documents (such as the Undertaking and the Host City Contract), on behalf of the city.
And the infamous "Guarantee," aka Blank Cheque, about (inevitable) cost overruns.
Guarantee to cover any potential economic shortfall of the (Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games), including refunds to the IOC of advances in payment or other contributions made by the IOC to the OCOG, which the IOC may have to reimburse to third parties in the event of any contingency such as full or partial cancellation of the Olympic Games.
And the commandeering of all advertising and vending control.
Provide (a) written guarantee(s) from the relevant government authorities confirming that legislation will be passed as soon as possible but no later than 1 January 2020 as necessary to effectively reduce and sanction ambush marketing (e.g. preventing unauthorised third parties from associating directly and/or indirectly with the Games or the Olympic Movement for commercial and/or advertising purposes), and, during the period beginning two weeks before the Opening Ceremony to the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games and to eliminate street vending within the vicinity of Games venues, prevent un-authorised ticket resale, prevent un-authorised live sites or similar concepts, and control advertising space (e.g. billboards, advertising on public transport, etc.) as well as air space (to ensure no publicity is allowed in such airspace).
Got that? Not only does the city give over all control and revenue from its own advertising sites, it must "secure binding options from third parties," i.e. owners of private advertising spaces, to acquire -- buy -- their spaces too.

For the Vancouver Winter Games, the city was so cowed by all this folderol that it issued an order to public libraries to eschew any taint of non-official brands.

IOC documents are rife with these indignities -- big and small.

In Norway:
Norwegian citizens were particularly amused/outraged (amuseraged) by the IOC’s diva-like demands for luxury treatment during the hypothetical Games. Here’s a piece in the Norwegian media about the controversy, with translation provided by a generous Norwegian reader named Mats Silberg:
• They demand to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony. Afterwards, there shall be a cocktail reception.
• Drinks shall be paid for by the Royal Palace or the local organizing committee.
• Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
• A welcome greeting from the local Olympic boss and the hotel manager should be presented in IOC members’ rooms, along with fruit and cakes of the season. (Seasonal fruit in Oslo in February is a challenge…)
• The hotel bar at their hotel should extend its hours “extra late” and the minibars must stock Coke products.
• IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
• Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
• The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC
members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics.
• “All furniture should be OL-shaped and have Olympic Appearance.“

Those are just a few of the demands listed in a 7,000-plus page document listing the IOC’s requirements for the Games.

(I love the "Olympic furniture" and "seasonal cakes." WTF is a seasonal cake?)

To return to Andrew Zimbalist: the main take-away is that we will effectively lose all control, oversight, and citizen-centred planning of our own damned city over a three-week party for millionaire hucksters and elite professional-turned-temporarily-amateur athletes. NINE YEARS FROM NOW.

And be insulted at every turn.

Say no.

Get involved.
NoTO2024 website.

Download briefing note provided to Toronto City Council on September 1, 2015.

Petition to Toronto City Council and Government of Ontario.

Council scorecard with contact info.

Previous posts:
Owe-lympic Myth: Olympics Are a Good Investment.

Owe-lympics Myths: Reuse Pan Am Venues.

Owe-lympics Myth 5: Health and Fitness Legacy.

Toronto Star and Olympics: Something Stinks

Toronto Councillors' Twitter Accounts

10 People on Twitter

1 comment:

Pseudz said...

Is it the case that John Tory will retire before 2024? I kinna doubt it. He'd be having to back-peddle and shrug at every budget meeting until he did retire.

And if he does manage to hang this albatrooooos around the neck of the City administration, who would want to run against him in an election that would happen just when the Olympic cost over-runs are really getting going. 2019 would be a pretty unappealing cluster-fuck in the finances of the city - who would want the job but an idiot or a crook?

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