Skip to content

Paris’ Olympic Bid

2005 March 13
by Phil Miller

Paris officials are bidding for the 2012 Olympic games and their bid has a novel slant to it. From the Los Angeles Times (membership required):

In part because Paris has its would-be Olympic stadium, Paris organizers have opted for an unusual twist, one that may play a key role in the July 6 vote for the 2012 Games: 13 of the structures that would go up for a Paris 2012 Olympics are temporary pavilions.

The use of such temporary venues is in keeping with a 2003 IOC study that noted the soaring costs of Games-related building as cities increasingly view the Olympics as a catalyst to fast-track urban regeneration.

Beijing will spend more than $30 billion readying for the 2008 Games. Athens spent more than $10 billion gearing up for 2004, and now is confronting the bill.

For $225 million, according to detailed financial records that the five cities have supplied to the IOC, Paris would deliver temporary venues for basketball, boxing, weightlifting, table tennis, wrestling and taekwondo, handball, fencing, equestrian and modern pentathlon, archery, triathlon, cycling, beach volleyball, baseball, softball and the start of the marathon.

For $225 million, Madrid would build a permanent tennis center.

Here is a post by Skip on the Athens aftermath. One thing that matters to International Olympic Committee members is leaving a legacy – not an Athens-type legacy.

The Paris proposal has sparked debate within Olympic circles about what the IOC calls “legacy,” the idea that the Games should leave a mark on a city without leaving behind “white elephants,” meaning sports facilities — as in Athens — that sit empty after the glamour of the Games has faded away.

All five bid cities insist they will produce no elephants. All five profess a dedication to legacy.

Tessa Jowell, the British cabinet minister responsible for the London bid, said, “It is not enough to just want to stage the Olympics because it is a fabulous festival of sport.

“There has to be more, a clear intention to leave something positive, even magical, behind when the athletes depart.”.

Any bidder who does not “profess a dedication to legacy” will not do well in the selection process. In any case, more often than not, these Olympic proposals are going to produce more “white elephants” than magical legacies. This is what happens when government officials put forth tremendous resources to generate, termed at its very best, a supposed short-term boost. People get a collection of publicly-owned sports facilities, but without a clear distinction of who owns them and who is going to maintain them. In essence, people get a reverse tragedy of the commons with similar results: urban decay. Parisian officials’ bid is a novel attempt to minimize this effect on their city.

Comments are closed.