Pyeongchang Olympics six months away — focus still on summer host cities

Tokyo, Paris, and Los Angeles appear to be the order of the host cities for the 2020, 2024, and 2028 summer Olympics. Unless hell freezes over and the IOC doesn’t sign off on a pre-arranged deal when it meets in Lima, Peru next month, USA will be waiting its turn to play host to the Games…and will be a bit richer in the interim.

Money is a strong motivator. The promise of $1.8 billion was enough to persuade Los Angeles to agree to wait its turn in bringing the Olympics back to the USA. With the IOC’s incentive of advanced payments dedicated to youth sport programming and compensation for four extra years of committee work, hopefully the 11-year preparation cycle will make the wait worth the price tag for LA

There is no doubt that Los Angeles provided a fantastic bid to repeat as host of the Games, but the iconic backdrops for beach volleyball underneath the Eiffel Tower, cycling and skateboarding through the Champs-Elysee, and futbol prelims at a stadium in Nice makes Paris an attractive city to host the 2024 Olympics. Few would argue that France was laser-focused on 2024, the 100 year anniversary of when the city played Host to the 1924 Olympics, when Johnny Weissmuller was a star and of the 3,256 participating athletes, only 156 were women.

Did LA concede to Paris as the likely winner to host the 2024 Games? Probably, but the proposition of being financially incentivized permits LA to appear sensible in postponing Host duties for four years as opposed to simply losing the IOC vote to France next month. California’s legislative analyst’s office even supported the decision for USA to wait until 2028 to repeat as Olympic Host. One has to wonder whether Paris would have considered the deal Los Angeles received to wait until 2028.

Paris had a greater emotional tie to 2024, while Los Angeles connected more with the opportunity to increase the chances of repeating as one of the most successful Olympics in history. The city first hosted the Games in 1932 before the second opportunity in 1984, which left the legacy of being labeled as the first Olympics to generate a profit. Thanks to the leadership of Peter Ueberroth and a multi-million television deal, LA84 was the first Olympics that wasn’t government sponsored, and as such, USA’s entertainment mecca was able to secure incredible corporate sponsorship deals and private funding. In 2028, LA will likely welcome government support only to supplement revenue streams provided by private investments, corporate sponsorships, and billion dollar broadcast deals.

Tokyo, Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics, will soon emerge out of the shadows of the attention diverted lately to the Paris-Los Angeles controversy. Usain Bolt won’t be part of the next summer Games and Michael Phelps likely will opt out of participating, but the show will go on with plenty of familiar names and emerging stars in what has been dubbed the “Futuristic” Olympics. When Tokyo last hosted the Olympics in 1964 (there is a definitely a trend in awarding the Games to repeat cities!), Japan debuted the world’s first ultra-high-speed magnetic levitation bullet train. Today Japan boasts the Maglev train and is one of few cities in the world with a Hyperloop, a vacuum like tube system for trains capable of speeding along around 300 miles per hour. Only in Dubai are trains supposedly faster than Japan’s Meglev and in the USA, plans were approved in July for a warp speed Hyperloop connecting passengers from New York to Washington DC in 29 minutes.

Hosting the Olympic Games provides a civic rebranding opportunity for cites to become known for a modernized transportation system or for having a transformational effect on the lives of under-privileged residents, or … for whatever legacy Game organizers are able to derive. The next Games that will be hosted on USA soil are now 11 years out. It is time to swing the pendulum of publicity and eye the economic, social, and political implications of the impending winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — in less than six months.

Stay tuned for more interesting sport stories from around the world to right here in Tiffin, Ohio.

Bonnie Tiell is a professor of sports management at Tiffin University