Can cities make the Olympics worth it?

Can cities make the Olympics worth it?


Eve: Hey Daniel! Go long! Daniel: Eve. What are you doing? Eve: We’re talking about the Olympics! Daniel: Football’s not an Olympic sport. Eve: What the f*** have I been practicing my spiral for? It’s that time again: The Summer Olympics. There’s a lot of things to be excited about:
The 100-meter dash, hot guys, the high dive, hot women, the hurdles, hot people being extra
hot. The games are in Rio de Janeiro this year, and you’ve likely heard concerns about issues like water pollution, Zika, and the impact on the city. Which brings us to perhaps the hottest issue of all — Olympic host city infrastructure!! Why do Olympic host cities spend billions upon billions of dollars on the Games? Well, to create better, more livable versions
of themselves for decades to come — ideally. But it’s never quite that straightforward. If you want to construct a downtown stadium
that can hold 80,000 people, you’re going to need to move other buildings — and the
people that live in them. Olympic construction displaced an estimated
720,000 in Seoul; and 1.5 million in Beijing. The construction in Rio will push an estimated 80,000 people out of their homes. Too often, the Games benefit the richest, while the costs hit the poorest. That’s a lot of bad. But cities can be improved in lasting ways — by things like more extensive transit systems and more people-friendly urban design. Barcelona, 1992… They were the priciest Olympics at the time, at $9.4B But because Barcelona’s mayor saw the Olympics as an opportunity to improve the city, 86 percent of that went toward urban development and infrastructure, including an extended metro system and a coastal boardwalk for pedestrians and bicyclists. In Athens, in 2004 … the expanded metro system has been lauded for transforming Athens into a “modern megalopolis” with “safe and fast public transit.” In London in 2012… The expansion of the East London metro line brought unprecedented access to the east end of the city. With that, however, came gentrification of
East London neighborhoods that displaced many of its residents — an all-too-common byproduct
of big transit improvements. So, what kind of legacy are we looking at in Rio this year? Well, on the plus side, the city rejected building an Olympic Park altogether. The opening and closing ceremonies will take
place in the Maracaña, the national soccer stadium. And the city is already planning how to repurpose the other stadiums they’ve built for the games. Those new metro lines and bike paths you’ve been hearing about are certainly impressive, but will largely serve middle class and wealthy
area — and have displaced entire favelas in their construction. Would anyone get as excited about gold medals for the most sustainably developed Olympic cities as they do about scantily-clad men performing incredible feats of strength? We don’t know. But you know what they say: Physical beauty only lasts so long, but a comprehensive metro system is forever. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

1 Reply to “Can cities make the Olympics worth it?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *