Olympics stand-off in Norway bodes change
|Posted on September 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM|
Many real experts and political ploy-boys have been weighing in on suggested plans for a Winter Olympics in Norway. It's been going on for over a year already and the suggested date of execution was to be 2022. Now, instead of experts being ignored, we are seeing movement at the top. Norway's main newspaper is taking on the hot potato. Here are some comments on my part, and a translation of the editorial, published Sept. 6, 2014. First my remarks.
The Olympics are run by a non-transparent pomp-and-puff assemblage of royalty, sheiks, barons and famous, a Swiss corporation without banking transparency whose top activity is to assemble media dollars and pass them on to sports organizations it independently selects for encouragement. Within its global monopoly, it alone decides how much money is enough money to run an Olympics, and refuses to contribute more than a very small portion to the actual costs of producing the games. It uses the argument that a host country will, as a result of bearing most of the costs of creating the facilities and running the games, experience a surplus of value that is readily put to uses which make the initial investments worth it . . . when, in fact, Olympics facilities are not appropriate or continually useful for most countries who have hosted them, and cause their losses in infrastructure to simply create un-sustainable and worldwide facility junk. The IOC is also not involved in de-structuring a games venue, nor in re-applying previous game venues in order to save future country host funds. It’s a continuous, ever-spiraling-upward display of mythic show that is not appropriate for a shrinking world in which even host countries struggle to balance their budgets for the health, welfare and the education of their citizenry. It utilizes, as now constituted, an unsustainable business model, and scorns suggestions that it should be re-organized. Better yet, it needs to be placed into global non-profit administration, and it shields itself from change in part through posturing poorly-detailed ‘finessing’ financial reports. What I’d like to see is more of an audit report, not a financial report – a management audit report.
But then that’s about my preferences. Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed my share of televised Olympic game moments of enjoyment. But that doesn’t mean that the business of putting on an Olympics doesn’t deserve a major overhaul – and now! Norway’s primary newspaper has now weighed in on the possibility that Norway would host the 2022 Winter games at Oslo. Since this paper dropped their English translation/version services, I’ve made a fair translation of it, below. Here’s to those interested in reading what the Aftenposten editorial has to say, which is succinct and, as well, a fair and proud display of what Norway’s egalitarian business culture values look like in practice. Enjoy!
Aftenposten newspaper, Friday, September 5, 2014, Oslo, Norway
“No to the Oslo OL.
THESE DAYS, the Norwegian government is handling Oslo's application for a governmental 'State's guarantee' for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022. The subsequent parliamentary proceedings will conclude whether Oslo shall next year submit a final application to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
We believe that Parliament should say no. The Olympics has become an event with a desperate need for fundamental changes and renewal. The best signal Norway can give about this is to join the long list of countries that have withdrawn their applications. RIGHT BEFORE the referendum in Oslo a year ago, Aftenposten expressed support for an Oslo Olympics. However, our 'Yes' was conditional. We have made it clear that the Olympics cannot be arranged at any price.
The IOC that turned up during the Sochi Olympics strengthened our skepticism concerning an organization that still clings to special rules and privileges.
We have seen that the IOC expects that the sponsoring country is giving the organization special treatment regarding taxes and fees. Or, as it says in the requirement specifications to applicant cities: "It is important to minimize tax exposures." What may be the upshot of this remains unclear, but this attitude witnesses, alone, global remoteness and pathetic arrogance which can cost Norway dearly.
Culture Minister, Torhild Widwey (Right party) tried to get exemptions from parts of the IOC rules when the provisional application was submitted in March, precisely to secure more national control over the event. That move caused the IOC to set its foot down very decidedly.
The Government therefore accepted the Olympic Charter without modifications. That doesn't mean that Norway is without influence in a further process concerning framing conditions and the events program, for it seems like, also, the IOC can see the need for something more modest. However, the regulatory framework provides an unacceptable level of uncertainty regarding cost responsibility for an event which, according to the most cautious estimates, will cost approximately 25 billion Norwegian crowns.
Under intense pressure from the negative public polls and hesitant national politicians, the Oslo 2022 planning group proposed this past week cuts that will save the public about 4.3 billion Norwegian crowns.
The proposal is understandable, but it is getting an undeniable and desperate tone when an arranger is pointing to the cultural opportunities that they themselves are rejecting. More importantly, several of the cuts undermine some of the arguments for the Olympics, namely the re-use of new sports facilities and apartments. Neither will an Olympics consistent with the proposed savings be a desirable option.
The OL is a national effort. The state pays almost the entire bill. Therefore we have throughout this entire process been concerned with the fact that the games must have broad support from the entire country. Today, one year after the referendum in Oslo, we must note that this is not the case. On the contrary, polls show that resistance has increased. Opposition in northern Norway is formidable and in no part of the country is there a 'yes' majority.
We think this attitude is based on healthy skepticism. The re-use' argument is not strong enough to justify the costs, and the Olympics will not in any way give Oslo the sports facilities the city has most need for.
Norway's remaining competitors are China and Kazakhstan, countries we generally find no reason to compare ourselves with, and regimes that do not tend to ask their populations about what they would like to spend money on. This also gives ominous signals that the Olympics have become a 'prestige project' and a money sink-hole Norway should not support.”
Categories: International Miscellaneous, Political Jargon