The next Olympics to be awarded, a little more than a year from now, will be the 2022 Winter Games. Rather than going to the strongest bid, the games may end up going to the last city standing—a long list of potential hosts have given up on their Olympic dreams because the whole thing is one huge, useless waste of money.
Yesterday, Krakow, Poland, officially withdrew its bid for the games, a day after a citywide referendum where 70 percent of voters came out against hosting the Olympics. "Krakow is closing its efforts to be the host of the 2022 Winter Games due to the low support for the idea among the residents," said mayor Jacek Majchrowski.
In January, another of the six original finalists pulled out, when Stockholm, Sweden's ruling political party declined to fund the games. They cited the pointlessness of paying hundreds of millions for facilities that would be used for two weeks and then rarely again, a story common to almost all Olympic hosts. "Arranging a Winter Olympics would mean a big investment in new sports facilities, for example for the bobsleigh and luge," the Moderate party said in a statement. "There isn't any need for that type of that kind of facility after an Olympics."
In November, voters in Munich, Germany, rejected a proposed Olympic bid. "The vote is not a signal against the sport," said one lawmaker, "but against the non-transparency and the greed for profit of the IOC."
Last March, a joint bid from Davos/St. Moritz, Switzerland, fell apart after being rejected by a public referendum.
Of the four remaining finalists, two are in rough shape. The Oslo, Norway, bid is falling apart. It was supported by a razor-thin margin in a September referendum, but public opposition has only grown since then. And on Sunday, the junior member of the government coalition voted against funding any Olympics. For them to go on, it would require an unprecedented alliance between the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour party.
The Lviv, Ukraine, bid seems dead in the water with the turmoil and war in the country. "Currently our dream is on hold," said the bid's chief.
There are only two healthy bids: Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China. One's an oil-rich state ruled by a president-for-life, and the other's, well, China. That's no coincidence. With the Sochi games raising the bar to an absurd $51 billion, hosting the Olympics no longer looks like a winning proposition. The failed and aborted 2022 candidacies all have one thing in common: When actual citizens are allowed to have a say, they say they don't want the Olympics.