Imagine you are sitting on your couch and you are tuned into NBC watching the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea.
You just saw a ceremony filled with larger than life animation, 1,000 dancers dancing in perfect harmony around the Olympic rings and images of athletes and spectators with tears streaming down their face as if they were a child.
The Olympic flag with its five, colored rings is billowing in the winter breeze has been lowered from its perch and handed to President Park Geun-hye, and she then hands it to the host nation of the 2022 games, Poland.
It is time to step back into reality. That scenario will never happen, at least not for a long time. It is merely your mind playing tricks on you.
Seeing the Olympic flame burn bright in Kraków could have been a reality if the residents of Kraków voted differently than they did on May 26, 2014.
Of the voters that turned out to exercise their right, 70 percent voted no to hosting the Olympics in 2022.
Why would people vote no to this? Why would a country with as much pride as Poland has vote no to having all eyes on their country for 17 days in the winter. This would have been the first time the country has hosted the Olympics.
There must have been some reasoning behind this. I cannot help but think of the scene from Indiana Jones where the man chooses what he thinks is the Holy Grail. Once he makes his choice, he withers away to nothing, and we are left with the famous quote, “he chose poorly.”
If the 2022 Winter Olympics were the Holy Grail, Poland chose wisely.
Off the bat, hosting the Olympics seems like it would be a huge economic boost for a country. The number of people that watch the event around the world is over 3 billion and, over 13,000 members of the media make the journey to the host country to cover the event.
In recent years, Barcelona, Atlanta and London were viewed as success stories for places hosting the Olympics. The 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona has made the country created close to 300,000 jobs and has turned the country into a tourist destination.
The Summer Olympics in London helped the city see a 12 percent increase in tourism after the Olympic flame was extinguished.
So what seems to be the problem? These numbers should make countries jump at the chance to host the games. But, they always say that the numbers do not lie.
The most recent Olympic games in Sochi were tagged as the most expensive games in history. The final price tag of the games was $50 billion. This is $38 billion more than what was originally planned.
Even though Poland is considered to be a model of economic success in Europe, they are in no position to pay that amount of money in order to host the Olympic games. If you look at their economy compared to the rest of the world, Poland is not that financially prominent. As of 2013, their Gross Domestic Product per capita was slightly over $21,000, which ranks 69 in the world.
Now is not the time for the country to spend that type of money. Instead, the country needs to focus on improving their labor market, and product market reform.
Leading up to and all throughout the Sochi games, every other story about the games was how venues for events and living quarters for athletes were far from completion. The stories seemed quite comical, but after the games, the last laughs can be heard from one end of the Olympic village to the other as they are abandoned.
Vancouver, Athens, Sarajevo are all the same: abandoned.
Do you really want to put an insurmountable amount of money into constructing venues that will house events for 17 days, and then house dust and animals for the rest of their days and become an eyesore?
Abandoned stadiums and villages serve no purpose in a landscape that is called a jewel in the country. That would ultimately take away from the beauty of the city that it prides itself on.
In February of 2022, I will be sitting on my couch, watching the games taking place in Pyeongchang. I will wish them the best of luck, but I will be glad the Olympic flame will not be above Kraków.