Once the gold medals are passed out and the tourists go home, the cities that host the Olympics face a problem. What do they do with the stadiums and massive investment in infrastructure? What happens to the pavillions made for millions of tourists once their trip has ended? As is with most complex problems, the answer is: it depends.
In cities like Rio de Janeiro, stadiums are already falling into disrepair. Although it has only been two years since the 2016 Games, the main sites of the games have been looted or completely abandoned. In the renown Olympic Park that was constructed for the Games, no operators have come forward seeking to take up the venues. That means four arenas built for sports, including two separate arenas, the tennis center and the velodrome, will remain empty and closed off for anyone to enter.
What this says about the legacy of the Olympics is not good. Cities that host with the intention of gaining some kind of economic gain from hosting the worldwide sports competition are faced with rising rental costs, failing infrastructure, and discontent from local residents that were evicted from their homes. For Rio’s games, around 80,000 citizens were removed for their homes in expectation of the mass amount of construction. Now, they live in worse situations.
Rio de Janeiro, however, is not the only city to have hosted the games. London used its opportunity to host the games to bring a part of their city back to life. Places like Hackney Wick, which never were developed before, now operate as the new ‘hip’ places to live and work. What makes a winning strategy? How can cities ensure that they end with London’s positive feedback loop rather than Brazil and Athen’s deserted masses of space? The United Kingdom will tell you that the answer lies in repurposing buildings and recycling locations rather than building new ones all-together. Instead of building drastically large stadiums, the answer lies in using warehouses and previously existing arenas.
When hosting, Barcelona used similar tactics to London, using the Games to rebuild its industrial sector. Placing investment in public transport and reusable spaces is where the key lies for effective post-Olympic growth. Will Tokyo do the same? What do we have to look forward to Seoul?
Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit are two photographers that attend the locations of the Games years after they finish to see what happens, and what the consequences of hosting these games are. Their project is called The Olympic City Project. Listen to their interview with NPR.
Athletes have long served as some of the most important activists. They are respected by their fans based on their performance, their work ethic, and their way of life. In turn, they have earned a platform to discuss and to highlight issues they deem important. Thus, athletes have become essential diplomats and advocates for real change.
Historically, we have seen sports serving as the platform for discussions surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Athletics also provides the arena for athletes to talk and to demonstrate how they can be representatives of their nation - regardless of their leader or the rhetoric the party in office, stands behind.
Heading into the Winter Olympics, Lindsey Vonn, Colorado bred, ski-racer, spoke up about how she intends to represent the good in the nation. As noted in The Guardian, Vonn was quoted saying, “I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the President.” She thinks that there are currently not people in the U.S. political system that are accurately representing the United States. Thus, Vonn finds it her duty to showcase the United States in a positive light and to represent a large majority of America that does not support the narrative of the current administration.
Generally speaking, the Summer Olympics are the time when most protests take place. However, due to Trump's time in office, it is very likely that this year will see a higher rate of protests - from gay athletes to those speaking out about religion as well as those who will stand up against the inevitable comments and tweets made by President Trump. For instance, Gus Kenworthy, British-born, but born and raised in Telluride, Colorado, is a freestyle skier who is largely known as the only openly gay competitor going into the 2018 Olympics. In his recent interview with The Times, Kenworthy told them he has no interest in feigning support for the President. Further, he notes that 30 years ago he could not have come out and have been able to be successful in his sport. He sees his position in society as being a catalyst of change —using his status as an athlete to promote acceptance and equality.
Being an athlete demands respect. Athletes put in the hours, and in many aspects, their sport plays an integral part of their identity. Perhaps even more importantly, an athlete has earned the platform to speak up to what matters to them. In many cases, athletes have spoken up for humanity, for collective human rights. From Jackie Robinson to Jesse Owens, from Lindsey Vonn to Gus Kenworthy - athletes play a momentous role in creating change and in creating history.
As we celebrate the Olympics and competitive sports in all of its formats, let’s not forget that sports include more than the aspect of games. “To do sport” is faire du sport in French or “Fitness machen” in German encompass any kind of physical activity. In many countries, that has extended to how sports become ingrained their national consciousness. In this article, we take a look at bike sharing and how Vélib’ took over France.
It started in Paris - where Vélib’ launched in 2005 with 8,000 bikes across Paris. In its first year alone, the company made more than 16 million USD. Today, the company makes around 21 million USD on an annual basis with the funds going back to Paris. With 102 million USD in startup costs, how did Vélib’ cope?
As with most things sports, things go hand-in-hand with advertising. JCDecaux, a multinational firm, won an advertising contract to maintain Vélib’s cycles and set up the infrastructure necessary in a sort of “barter” system exchange for 50 percent of Parisian billboard space for ten years. With this deal, Vélib’ and in turn, JCDecaux, have become average symbols to associate with Paris and France. Although Vélib’ was not the first bike share (that award goes to Velo’v bike rental service in Lyon), it has become world renown and copied throughout the world’s other capital cities. Washington D.C. for example launched SmartBike DC in 2008 with 10 stations and 120 bikes. It is the first bike-sharing program in the USA.
Across the world, other cities have done the same with great results. Cities with large tourist influxes like Montreal, Barcelona and Hangzhou, China all use similar bike sharing systems with modular docking systems so that tourists can operate the bike system without interacting with other humans. Can you guess which city has the largest amount of bicycles? That would be Hangzhou, China with more than 78,000 bicycles.
Today more than a few American cities like Denver and San Francisco also utilize bike sharing programs. With a world focused on healthy living, particularly on beating the epidemic of obesity, bike sharing is the perfect way to ease pressure on public transit systems while providing a healthy alternative for both locals and tourists to get around. Another bonus? Less pollution.
Vélib’ reports that on an annual basis, they support 27.5 million trips. And due to the success, Paris has launched Autolib’ - a car sharing program similarly modeled to Vélib’. Is it thanks to Vélib’ that there are more than 900 bike sharing systems worldwide? Probably not. But the impact that Vélib’ had in making bike sharing “cool again,” shouldn’t be understated.
If you’re interested in reading more about bike sharing, check out Atlantic’s Citylab feature on the Bike Sharing Boom.
Every two years, the world is joined together in what is known as Olympism. And every two years, this universal symbol reemerges: five interlinked rings with one each in blue, black, red, yellow, and green on a white background.
So what does this exactly represent? According to the Olympic Charter, “The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.” (Source)
Despite there being seven continents, according to the Olympics - the five rings represent the five inhabitable continents: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Though creator of the symbol and co-founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, appears to have intended the rings to represent the five participating continents. However post-1951, the official handbook does not assign one color to be representative of a specific continent.
The white background also has significance. In combination with the five rings, these six colors are “those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time” - Pierre de Coubertin (1931).
So what are your thoughts on this iconic symbol? Should it change to include six rings representing the six inhabitable continents? Should the colors change every year, remain the same, become monochromatic?
Let us know!
Chances are - if you watch the news, you’ve heard of doping. In the past few years, Russian athletes in particular have been tarred with this particular brush and banned from competing in the games. But what is doping?
According to UNESCO:
'Doping' refers to an athlete's use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results. Steroids are the drugs that often come to mind when we talk about doping, but doping also includes an athlete's use of other forbidden drugs (such as stimulants, hormones, diuretics, narcotics and marijuana), use of forbidden methods(such as blood transfusions or gene doping), and even the refusal to take a drug test or an attempt to tamper with doping controls.
As you continue to participate in sport, doping is an issue that you will increasingly face: you could be tested for drugs; some of your competitors will be cheating by using drugs; you may even be tempted to do so yourself. (Source)
When athletes agree to compete in the Olympic or any kind of international-level games, they are subjecting themselves to the rules that the World Anti-Doping Agency stipulates. In this case, anabolic substances, peptide hormones, beta-2 agonists, metabolic modulators, and diuretics are prohibited. Usually at the beginning of and throughout the games, athletes are screened for these substances - and if detected, they are not allowed to compete.
The kind of reports that discuss doping have been rampant in the media as of late. In January 2018, Russia was again banned from the Paralympics in 2018 due to an “insufficient recovery from the doping scandal.” Not only does the International Paralympic Committee state that Russia does not cooperate with any kind of regulation, but that they also have also engaged in state-sponsored doping. In other words, the government of Russia supported cheating in the games. Systemic cheating has become the norm.
In the Olympic Games upcoming in Seoul, 169 Russian athletes have been given special dispensation to compete in the games. As for the Paralympics, Russian athletes that are cleared for participation may compete, but will so do as “Neutral Paralympics Athletes.” That means they will compete, but outside of their country and without the mention of ‘Russia’ in their title. The scandal takes on a drastic tone particularly in Russia, and amongst other countries who were furious at Russia for the country’s lack of morals.
But why does doping matter?
In international politics, as well as a variety of other interactions between countries, there is cheating. There’s no question that amongst diplomats - there is subterfuge and under the table deals. What makes sports different is that it exists as something apart from politics. It represents an opportunity for countries to put aside their political differences and come together. Doping is an attack upon the integrity that sports, for many countries, is a matter of national pride.
National athletes that compete in the Olympics are the cream of the crop that countries have to send. They represent the strength and endurance of each competitor, regardless of the level of interest any particular citizen has in sports. In other words, doping is more than simply cheating, it’s pulling the rug out from under the rightful winner - and doing so in the most immoral of tactics.
The Winter Olympics are fast approaching. On February 9th, the 2018 Olympic Games will kick off in the South Korean city, Pyeongchang. While there is the anticipated buzz of excitement that always accompanies the Olympics - from both viewers and athletes alike, this year is different.
2018 is unique on many fronts - from Russia not being represented in the games, to the nuclear chess game in the mix and the reintroduction of the Korean unification flag. These elements all play a role in the Games' failing ticket sales. We breakdown why people are not flocking to the 2018 Winter Games:
2. On top of the tensions, another, less threatening reason for sales to be down, could be attributed to South Korea not being on the top of people's’ travel bucket lists.
3. The Winter Olympics are not as popular as the the Summer Games. The Winter Olympics are less representative of the global community, given that winter sports are concentrated in the northern hemisphere.
With the Winter Olympics a little more than a week out, it is still not too late to buy the tickets that many people are not purchasing. Your once in a lifetime chance to be in South Korea, in the height of a nuclear power play, could be one of the cheapest Olympics you could attend. To purchase tickets you can visit: http://www.jetsetsports.com/olympicgames or https://www.cosport.com/olympics/tickethotelpackages.aspx?utm_source=BodyLink&utm_medium=Website&utm_campaign=UserExperience&utm_term=HTP
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