Olympics aims to improve with new sports

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/13 0:48:39

The Olympic Games will have a decidedly new feel in 2020, when men and women will compete in mixed relays while surfers, skateboarders and rock climbers make their debuts. Three-on-three basketball and BMX will also follow skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing in making their ­debuts in Tokyo. The IOC is trying to make the Games seem more fun and appeal to a more youthful audience.

Last year, the Games in Rio saw the reintroduction of golf and the debut of seven-man rugby. The introduction of sport climbing, skateboarding and BMX freestyle gives the Games a more youthful feel.

However, three-on-three or half-court basketball might be a bit dubious. This writer was not even sure this was an event played at international level though apparently FIBA has been holding a 3x3 World Cup since 2012. While the abridged form of rugby - sevens - is an Olympic sport and proved quite popular last year, it is understandable as the full version of rugby is not an Olympic event. The full version of basketball, with five players per side, is already an Olympic sport and a very popular one. So holding a diluted form of basketball does not seem so attractive.

On a broader level, the Olympic Games faces a bigger challenge in finding hosts. ­Either Paris or Los Angeles will host the 2024 Games, and the loser will get the 2028 edition.

That's because all the other candidates like Budapest, Boston and Rome pulled out due to cost concerns and citizen discontent. The sheer cost of holding a Games has been well spotlighted, not to mention the logistical and organizational challenges. The wastefulness of spending big money to build fancy stadiums, arenas and courses that will see little use after the Games or even become abandoned husks is obviously very undesirable. At this point, the only cities who could afford to host the Games are those from first-world countries or major developing ­nations. The 2012 London edition cost about $15 billion while the Rio Games supposedly cost $5 billion. Even if that amount is true and not almost $20 billion as has been alleged, that was a lot for a country mired in a gloomy economy. Meanwhile, the 2008 Beijing Games cost a whopping $42 billion.

To tackle this, the IOC should consider allowing an ­entire country to host a Games, so that the venues and organizational costs can be spread out. For developing countries in Asia and Africa, this is the only way they could host a Games. While one of the main appeals of an Olympic Games is having everything in one place, given how big they have become in modern times, a change should be considered. Otherwise the embarrassing scramble to find willing hosts for Games might become a regular occurrence.

The author is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer. hcpyip@gmail.com


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