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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Christilaw: Olympics need permanent home

Steve Christilaw

It’s been pushed to the side for the moment, but there is a growing discussion about how the Olympic Games get distributed around the world.

In fact, one of the suggestions gaining traction would be to give the games a permanent home rather than expecting host countries to invest billions and billions of dollars in the specialty infrastructure needed to host two weeks of competition before sitting idle for the rest of its lifespan.

To that end, I would like to offer Otis Orchards as a permanent home for the Summer Olympic Games. OK, the Winter Games can come, too. Otis Orchards is a solid alternative to Almaty, Kazakhstan, right?

Granted, Otis Orchards is a bit of a stretch. There’s probably not enough on-street parking available for some venues. But you know what? I bet there are more than enough enterprising Otis Orchardites who would gladly convert their yard or side pasture into a parking lot for the Olympic fortnight.

Other than that, it’s centrally located enough to make things work.

I’m sure Central Valley High School could be made available for the opening ceremonies, and Liberty Lake is right next door to host the rowing competition. The boats may need to row in laps instead of in a straight line, but that’s just a modest accommodation, right?

The pool at Valley Mission Park is an easy commute and the Valley Y can probably handle water polo.

And I’m sure Otis Orchards would be glad to share some of the wealth.

They’re sticklers about world and Olympic records in track and field and I’m certain Spokane Falls Community College would be glad for any upgrades necessary to make that happen out there.

It’s silly, right?

But it’s not that much sillier than having a country like Brazil spend so much money on the Olympic Games when there are other pressing needs in the country for money and attention.

There are already soccer stadiums standing empty in that country after the 2014 FIFA World Cup came and went. Brazil spent a reported $3 billion to build or renovate a dozen stadiums, some in remote locations where there is no local team to help support or operate. Some stand unused, others operate at a loss.

Both FIFA and the Olympic Games Organizing Committee like to boast that every country to host their events has broke even, but that’s a deceiving number. Both organizations only count the operating cost of their respective games, not the capital costs – ignoring the costs of building the many, varied venues.

What’s more, the lion’s share of revenues generated by the World Cup and Olympic Games goes directly into the coffers of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, respectively.

It would make sense to give the Olympic Games a permanent home, complete with permanent venues, that can host the games every four years and other competitions in between.

For starters, it makes for a much better return on the capital investment.

While Otis Orchards is, admittedly, a stretch, returning the games to where they began makes too much sense to ignore: Return the Olympic Games to Greece.

Athens hosted the games in 2004, so there is infrastructure to build on. And with the games coming home every four years, it can be maintained and improved for much less than it costs to build new facilities every four years.

Yes, it’s fun to visit new places and engage with new cultures with each new Olympic Games. And I am convinced that the Olympic Games Organizing Committee loves being wined and dined around the world by countries seeking to host the games.

But the real point of these games is the competition, right?


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