Pique'n yer interest 

The speech you’ll never hear

In light of all the recent uproar over Games spending and borrowing in Vancouver, here is the speech that I would someday like to hear from Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee:
"Hey everybody, thanks for being here. As you know I have some important thoughts to share concerning the future of the Olympics. I am also bound contractually to promote our core sponsors... (pauses to take a swig from a Coke bottle, followed by a long 'ahhhhh')... in the course of any communication, but please bear with me.
"Wow. In 2008, the Summer Games were 108 years old. The Winter Games in 2010 will be 86 years old. So much history. And so much controversy.
"The Games were founded simply to bring countries together to share our collective enjoyment of sport and to marvel at human achievement. The Games' enduring symbols - the five rings, the torch, the opening and closing ceremonies - have also come to represent what's best in arts and culture.
"However, we must recognize that all these decades of peaceful competition have not made us more peaceful; that sharing the field of play with other countries has not translated into the sharing of knowledge or resources; that the impartial ticking of the stopwatch - I recommend the sleek designs and Swiss styling of Omega by the way - has not created any real equality. At the root, this is a sporting event, and the hoopla around it - is this the right word, hoopla? - is somewhat overblown.
"The result has been an unreasonable burden on host cities, and a reality at Games time that differs greatly from the promises made in the bid process. Yet somehow the cities still line up for a shot at hosting the Games, wrenching investment from their federal and regional governments.
"We know that the Games are always more expensive to put on than cities estimate, while we force them to build facilities they may not need, want or have the means to operate after the Games are over... cough... luge track... cough... velodrome... cough. You'd need a reliable, affordable Acer computer with a network solution by Atos Origin to figure out how to get these legacies to cover their costs.
"Maybe we need to rethink venues in the future. Building elaborate stadiums for hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars is a little excessive. Simple stadiums are more than good enough. Maybe we could work more with host countries to find ways to use the venues they already have to host events, or use facilities elsewhere instead of requiring new construction.
"Let's face it, the Games never really go to the same place twice. Maybe we could get rid of some events altogether if the facility requirements are too burdensome.
"And facilities are not the only cost. Our security demands are enormous, and growing each year. It seems the general hoopla - did I use that word right? - has made the Games a terrorist's wet dream. The media attention is a powerful lure, as is the opportunity to give the developed world a black eye at our so-called finest hour.
"I'm not sure what we can do about that. Maybe we could break up the Games into a series of events, and hold some events one year, some another. Maybe we could keep a little lower profile, and emphasize sports instead of all the other concepts we're pushing. For example, on one hand we always claim to be apolitical, and on the other we also claim to have the ability to remake the world, or make countries like China more open and democratic.
"The general demands on behalf of IOC members and our sponsors, God love 'em, are also ridiculous. All those free tickets. All those empty seats. All those demands for housing that leave nothing for athletes, spectators and volunteers. All those lawsuits to protect our brands and sponsors that kind of make us look like jerks.
"In addition to lowering the cost and requirements for our hosts, we also need to lower expectations of what the Games can do. The legacies that the Games promise, like tourism and trade, are never guaranteed, and the benefits are generally not widely shared beyond a handful of stakeholders - even as the burdens and deficits are distributed equally among taxpayers. If Games are to be profitable then they should be profitable in themselves, self-supporting from start to finish, instead of promising that the investment will all be worth it somewhere down the road. Ask Montreal how well that worked out.
"See, governments are too embarrassed to admit when they've lost your money, so they'll always find ways to make it look like their Games were a success, or shuffle the costs around in a misleading way when the truth is as clear to everybody as the picture on a new Panasonic or Samsung HD television, which by the way are perfect for watching the Games, or for family movie night.
"The last thing I want to mention is the spectacle - the lavish opening and closing ceremonies, the outlandish architecture. The Games have become a cultural pissing contest between countries that is essentially meaningless, a chance to show off. I mean, the Bird's Nest and the Bubble in Beijing were beautiful, but I'd hate to see that Visa bill - just joking. Visa is everywhere you want to be, at reasonable rates of interest.
"There are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves, and that host cities should ask and answer honestly before bidding to host a Games. We will be more open and honest in the future.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to a lunch meeting at McDonald's. I'm Lovin' It."

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