The Summer Olympics start next Saturday in Tokyo. Nobody knows how they will go, but the Olympic village just reported its first case of Covid. And Tokyo reported a six-month high in cases.
That doesn’t sound like an auspicious start for an event that has already been postponed for a year.
The reason it’s taking place at all is money. NBC and the International Olympic Committee agreed to a $7.75 billion rights deal in 2014 that’s designed to keep the Olympics on NBC through 2032. And there are hundreds of sponsors signed up for commercials during the more than 7,000 hours of coverage scheduled across its variety of networks from July 23 to August 8.
As Felix Salmon writes, the Olympics haven’t made financial sense in decades. Host cities spend billions preparing for the games. They inevitably suffer massive cost overruns, and go deep into debt, with a lasting legacy of little more than a group of buildings that are a monument to failure.
The 2008 Beijing summer Olympics cost $45 billion; its revenues were $3.6 billion, most of which went to the International Olympic Committee. Russia’s Sochi winter Olympics in 2014 cost about $50 billion and had even lower revenues.
The Tokyo Olympics will cost about $28 billion and the decision to ban spectators means foregoing another $1 billion in ticket sales. So, while winning an Olympic medal represents the pinnacle of athletic achievement in most sports, the edifice that supports standing on the podium is crumbling. On to cartoons.
Biden may need to choose his words better:
Biden’s tune is nice, the words are true:
GOP’s attacks on culture wars hit a new low. It’s always the one on the left:
Recent books say the Former Guy attempted a coup. Republicans say not so:
Most Republicans are happy to excuse TFG’s behavior: