Not All Fun and Games

The Olympics have been a cultural cornerstone for decades. That does not soften the blow of their damaging consequences.

Not All Fun and Games

Roanna Pham, Staff Writer

For well over a century, the Olympic Games have cultivated a period of celebration where different countries compete in elite competitions. The Games seem filled with positive impacts such as increased jobs and tourism for the host nation, bridging political differences, fostering patriotism, and highlighting the strength of the world’s finest athletes. However, upon closer inspection, it is impossible to ignore the negative social, environmental, and economic issues that run rampant within the Olympics.

While this international sporting event fosters excitement for those fortunate enough to have the resources to enjoy it, not all are so lucky. As a result of the Olympics, the host nation often evicts the impoverished while simultaneously demanding high taxes from others in the name of creating or revamping venues. In preparation for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics alone, upwards of 720,000 people were forcibly moved from their homes and were placed in crowded government housing. This is unfortunately not an isolated incident; 1.5 million impoverished Chinese citizens were relocated before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as millions of others in London, Rio, and many other host countries. The Olympics is not worth supporting if it comes at the expense of a nation’s people.

The very people who created the culture of the city were forced out, having to watch from behind walls as tourists enjoy their own land in the way they are now unable to.”

Additionally, the cost of hosting the Olympics often leads to lost revenue. For the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Brazil went 352% over budget, investing $14 billion in hosting, only to end up $2 billion in debt once the Games were over. All of the venues, stadiums, pools, and tracks that were built for the sole purpose of the Olympics were abandoned—leaving the Rio Olympic village a ghost town and thousands of people displaced. And yet Brazil is a country with 12.8% of its population stuck in poverty. In fact, to maintain that glamorous, exciting allure of Carnival that Rio is famous for, the government placed physical barriers between the region of the games and the North Zone, where much of the city’s poor live. The very people who created the culture of the city were forced out, having to watch from behind walls as tourists enjoyed their land in a way they were now unable to.

Creating such grandiose stadiums for the sole purpose of hosting the Olympics, only to abandon them soon after, also takes a toll on the environment. Just this past February, in the Beijing Winter Olympics, all of the snow used was entirely artificial. Not only was this expensive, costing upwards of $60 million dollars, but it also required an absurd amount of energy and water to create. 343 million gallons of water were used for the snow, which is equivalent to a day’s worth of drinking water for nearly 900 million people. This is devastating to both the environment and humans alike as it takes one of Earth’s essential resources and turns it into a non-reusable product.

Is all of this destruction worth it?