You've seen the sappy commercials and the heartwarming back stories on morning talk shows. The athletes who have earned spots at the Olympic Games are the purest of the pure, the world's most dedicated sportsmen and women who probably won't earn much more for their work than a few seconds of airtime and an occasional appearance at the local sports store. And that is what the Olympics are all about -- a love of sport, country and your fellow man.
Maybe. Just don't look too closely behind the scenes, or else you'll find out that ...
In each Olympics, the athletes stay in a small area nearby that is referred to as Olympic Village. They could also call it Boneropolis, or perhaps Sexsylvania, because these villages have become infamous for being festivals of sexual depravity.
Bangingham. Coxforherd. We've got hundreds of these. Wankfield.
Imagine living in a town populated by young, toned, athletic mini-gods at the peak of their physical prime. Imagine that they've all dedicated years of their lives to disciplining their hot, fatless bodies for a shot to live in this little town for a few weeks. And here they are, all 10,000 of them, minus their parents and spouses and the daily regimens that have governed their lives up to this point, in an exotic location, with lots of spare time. Let's put it this way: At the 1988 Seoul games, there was such a problem with used condoms showing up on the roof of the British men's housing that the Olympic Association had to ban outdoor sex.
Can you imagine a crisis of condom littering so profound that an official ban on publicly whipping out your Olympic-quality junk was required? Can you fathom the degrading conversation that had to occur between Olympic officials and grizzled coaches to get this ban enacted? And it was no isolated situation -- from what we can tell, every single Olympic Village since, well, ever, has been knee-deep in genital juice.
"Any idea when the next shipment of foot-condoms comes in?"
By 1992, Olympic organizers got so worried about the frenetic sexing that they started giving athletes free condoms just to keep the AIDS at bay. By the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, 100,000 condoms were distributed to about 6,500 athletes and officials. That's about 15 condoms per person. AND THE 100,000 CONDOMS WEREN'T ENOUGH. Halfway through the games, an emergency shipment of rubbers was brought in to fill the gap. And that's not even touching how much unprotected sex these guys were having. So what we're trying to say is that not even Las Vegas or Copulation Town, USA, can compete with the coitusathon occurring in the streets of an Olympic Village.
In order to recoup the enormous expenditure it takes to host the games, the hosts need big time international brand sponsors. And as the hosts, they have the right to let only those major brands sell their wares in and around the games. Fair enough.
"This horrific, career-ending injury is brought to you by McD****d's!"
Unless, that is, you're a London mom and pop store hoping to capitalize on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Too bad, because you'd better not even THINK about using common words like "Games," "2012" "Gold," "Silver," "Bronze," "London," "Medals," "Sponsors" and "Summer" in your signs or products. If you accidentally combine any of these words while advertising for your small business, it's a $30,000 fine.
"Sorry, ma'am, but the year you live in is trademarked by the Olympics."
So that's weird, but if you're trying to save your country from bankruptcy, some deals with the devil have to be made. It's ugly, but no one wants to end up like Greece (more on that later).
But let's say that, for whatever reason, which probably has to do with the fact that the Olympics murdered your parents and left you a wealthy vigilante orphan, you're against the Olympics altogether. Don't expect to use your freedom of speech to voice your anger against sports-themed injustices. The IOC demands that during the games, special rights be given to the host city. Not just strutting rights among the other cities of their nation, although that's a given, but also the right to squash all local laws regarding free speech. The London contract, for example, spells out that all billboards throughout the city must be rented by the city and that only sponsors of the games will be able to use them. If anyone wants to put up an anti-Olympics billboard, they are banned. Police even have the power to enter your house and rip down an anti-Olympics sign.
"Someone badmouthed Wenlock! Go, go, go!"
In London, the creepy Big Brother aspect of the Olympics "brand police" has led to a whole genre of protest art by underground artists. Just incorporating the Olympics logo into their work is an act of defiance -- a lingerie store was forced to take down a window display using five hula hoops and some bras to mimic the Olympic rings, presumably out of fear that people would mistake that for the entrance to the Olympic Village.
Cities all over the world get down and dirty for a shot at bringing the globe's greatest games to their country. It's like the Hunger Games of the adult world, only without the starvation, murder and incest (we haven't read The Hunger Games). Getting chosen to host the Olympics is a tacit acknowledgment that your city is awesome and worthy of the eyes of the whole planet. Do you think anyone is going to campaign to bring the Olympics to Little Rock, Arkansas, or Cleveland? Hosting the Olympics means your city will be remembered and respected for decades. Is there any other honor greater than that?
"Remember us? We used to have Lebron James?"
But there's a price to getting the privilege of hosting the Olympics, and that price might be your entire economy. Greece learned the lesson the hard way.
Greece's initial budget for the 2004 games was 4.5 billion euros, but the actual cost of the games quickly doubled that estimate. When all was said and done, the cost of the games was 5 percent of Greece's GDP, and eight years later, the country hasn't recovered from the debt. The city of Vancouver has given up on recovering all the money it put into its fancy schmancy Olympic Village condos that were later converted into residential homes. Today the buildings form a ghost town, and city officials are struggling to come up with a way to just break even on them.
The Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 plunged the city into a recession, with the tax burden of the games ending up costing around $30,000 per family in the city. And none of these financial disasters compare to Montreal (Greece pending). Their Olympic stadium wasn't finished until 11 years after the games ended, and it took no less than 30 years to pay down the debt incurred to host the 1976 Olympics.
They had to move in with Toronto just to make ends meet.
Which completely explains why the people of Bern, Switzerland, voted down their chance to host the 2010 games. And why Detroit wisely stopped bidding for the "honor" by 1972.
All of this is especially baffling when you consider ...
The only thing harder than a city completing the Olympics bidding process is a city completing the "We now no longer have homeless people and everyone is beautiful here" process. The IOC scrutinizes everything from the city's sports venues, transportation infrastructure and housing capacities to the general attitude of the citizens themselves. Do you know why Paris didn't get to host the 2012 Olympics? Because there was a general strike the day the Olympic Committee visited and public transportation was brought to a standstill. Boom. The Olympics were canceled for you, France. Good luck next time. You can't fake being ready to host thousands of people for the event of a lifetime.
"No, no, they just look small because they're only like eight inches wide."
And a lot of dollars goes a long way in persuading IOC members to choose your town. Investigators of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics bid discovered that tens of thousands of dollars per IOC member were spent wooing them. While Salt Lake City was giving committee members cheap disposable cameras as souvenirs, the Japanese were handing out pricey video cameras like they were candy. In fact, at a time when the limit on IOC gifts was $200, the Japanese contingent spent an average of $5,700 on each committee member. When all was said and done, Nagano spent about $24 million on their bid, five times as much as Salt Lake City spent. Not that all of this information was immediately transparent, since Nagano destroyed their spending records before anyone could get a hold of them.
So was it any wonder that Salt Lake City went nuts the next time they had a shot at wooing the IOC? After four failed attempts at the games, the American committee slathered the IOC host city committee members with over "$1 million in cash, gifts, ski trips and scholarships." Once the scandal broke, it took none other than Willard "Mitt" Romney to clean the mess up.
The first and only year shuffleboard was an Olympic event.
One way that cities raise the money to bid on hosting the Olympics is by promising their citizens that it's all going to be worth it. At the end of the day, they're going to have world class sports venues, new residential housing, countless job opportunities during the preparation for the games, tons of revenue and a legacy of funding for sports programs for the city's youth. What's not to love?
"Terrible traffic and draconian laws are a small price to pay for people I don't know to enjoy sports I'll never watch."
Well, all of those new venues and housing have to go somewhere, and usually that somewhere is where the poor people live. Thirty thousand Atlanta residents were displaced by the 1996 games, and in 1988, 720,000 were forced from their homes in Seoul. The ones who were unlucky enough to not have a roof over their heads were rounded up and housed out of sight during the games. But nothing compares to Beijing -- 1.5 million Chinese people were forced out of their houses in the lead-up to the 2008 games.
Even if residents aren't forcibly displaced, they can look forward to their rents going up so high that they can't afford to live in their homes. As for all those beautiful sports venues, in Greece 21 of the 22 stadiums are now bum colonies and bird shit collectors. But hey, it's all worth it so that we can establish once and for all which country is the best at synchronized swimming.
"It makes my heart so full of national pride, my left arm is numb!"
For more on the Olympics, check out 6 Insane Sports That Could Be in the Next Olympics and 5 Ridiculous Sports You Won't Believe Were Olympic Events.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Sad Twist Ending of the Most Heroic Video of the Week.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see how you can have copious amounts of boner time with Olympians.
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