Only two cities formally submitted bids to host the 2022 Winter Olympics this week, according to The Guardian.
Almaty in Kazakhstan and Beijing in China are the two cities who’ve officially submitted their application to the International Olympic Committee.
Originally, four other cities were considering hosting the Games – Krakow in Poland, Lviv in Ukraine, Stockholm in Sweden and Oslo in Norway. However, they all pulled out due to “lack of public or political support”.
It’s clear that the Winter Olympics has become the party that no one wants to host. After Sochi 2014 became the most expensive Olympic Games of all time at $50 billion, it’s no wonder most countries don’t want to fork out for the Games in 2022.
But what does this mean for the future Winter Olympics?
Firstly, there’s the question of snow. Kazakhstan is known for being a undiscovered powder destination. Beijing is also home to bitterly cold winters with several ski resorts opening nearby China in the past few years. So snow shouldn’t be a problem, something the Russians battled with.
Then there’s the demands of the IOC. Apparently this turned off a lot of nations from hosting the Games, according to Bloomberg.
Norwegian newspaper VG ran an article with the headline, “IOC Requires Free Booze in the Stadium and Cocktail Party With the King” after delving into the Winter Olympics manual.
A full revolt started in Italy and Austria in 2011 when it was suggested the Winter Olympics be hosted in the Dolomites between the two nations.
Other nations were simply terrified by the immense costs involved in hosting the Winter Olympics in the current age. When you look at the photos of Sochi’s half-built desolate Olympic Village, you can see what they mean.
And what about the idea of propping up these unsavoury regimes? After all, should the IOC be supporting two authoritarian states who censor the media and have made it a crime for citizens to publicly question the way the country is run, to give them a platform to show off their achievements?
Talk of reforms is already underway. The IOC Committee voted in December to ban discrimination against athletes based on their sexuality and to minimise costs involved in building venues in the host city, when perfectly suitable venues may be located nearby.
While these reforms show progress, the big question is: is it enough? For many Western countries, the Winter Olympics has already become too huge an investment to justify.
What will happen when the day comes when no one wants to host the Winter Olympics? Perhaps this is something the IOC should start thinking about.