Tokyo 2020, Debt, And Madrid

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

In all sincerity, biases and emotions included, I would have loved for Madrid to have hosted the Summer Games. The city has great infrastructure in place, the most efficient public transportation system I have ever used, and it rivals the festive atmosphere of any capital city. But hosting the games for Madrid, Tokyo or any other capital city brings questions and concerns about debt, allocation of resources, and social responsibility. And if any visual proof is needed about the aftermath that hosting the olympic games can bring just view this slide show from National Geographic on past olympic venues

An empty and unused olympic facility from the Greek Games 2004.

An empty and unused olympic facility from the Greek Games 2004.

I wrote about the coming World Cup and the cost (social, political) of playing host for Brazil. Finding the numbers behind the Summer Games for some of the most recent host cities are easy to find as well: Athens (empty stadiums), Barcelona (high debt), Beijing (questions still). So it's no surprise that much of the conversation regarding Tokyo and the Olympics has revolved around debt. 

Japan's economy is currently twice it's GDP. That's hard to acknowledge  even more difficult to consider is how to navigate a complex world economy to determine how national security and financial problems will be resolved. And with some of the facilities they have planned, infrastructure costs will surely be high in a country where cheap labor is as foreign as the distance from here (west coast usa) to Japan. So is hosting the games really the answer? According to Abe it is. And they'll take a shot at doing something many other host cities have not been able to: profitability post Summer Games. 

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Returning for the games in Madrid would have been wonderful. But I'll try not to think about the insurmountable debt that will be taken on by Japan as I watch USA Basketball dominate the games. 

 

- arturo gutierrez