I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with the IOC

Ok, I will admit it. I am not a huge fan of the Winter Olympics. Yes, ski jumping is fun to watch, particularly after all those years of watching the intro to Wide World of Sports. Bobsledding is kind of cool. But things like ice dancing? The biathlon? Curling? Those are sports?

But while beating up on the competitions at the Olympics is one thing, my beef is with the choice of venue for this year’s Games. As most of us know by now, Vancouver is having some unseasonably warm weather, and this has been wreaking havoc on the alpine skiing events, which for many (myself included) are the crown jewels of the Winter Olympics.

How does this happen? The IOC evaluates potential sites for the Olympics years in advance. For the Summer Games, things like the ability to raise the funds to erect the venues are critical. Major world cities are chosen (L.A., Montreal, Tokyo, Mexico City, etc.). The Winter Olympics are almost never in highly populous areas (Lake Placid, St. Moritz, Grenoble, Innsbruck, etc.). The common thread among these locations? How about suitably winter weather?

In Vancouver, they have had to truck snow in from distant locales, use snow machines, and worst of all, they have had to monkey around with the schedule several times so that they could try to find a time when suitable weather conditions would allow for the alpine skiing events to be held. How could an event of this magnitude be scheduled in a city where there was even the possibility that this could occur?

I don’t think we can attribute this to global warming, although can’t you just imagine that Al Gore is sipping a cocktail somewhere and smirking right now? No. This time, the blame goes to a bunch of organizers who can’t even bother to do an appropriate amount of due diligence on not just average weather conditions in February, but also on what the extremes are. If there was to be any chance that this fiasco could transpire, then they simply could not pick this city.


5 Responses to “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with the IOC”

  1. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    As an Alabama fan, you know I have an opinion of this subject as well. Olympics are driven by a variety of factors. Somewhere well down the list are venue-related competitive factors. At the top of the list, to no surprise, is money. Who watches, what do they watch and why do they watch.

    Women are by a sizable margin the largest viewing group for the Olympics. Are women drawn by ski jumping in the winter or the 5000 meter run in the summer? Not much. They watch to see figure skating and gymnastics. Both of these events are hold indoors and can be held just about anywhere in the world. It is nice to wrap these events in a veneer of running and jumping and skiing. The world championships of skating and gymnastics draw pretty good numbers, but the Olympic games elevate the stature and attention paid to these events once every four years.

    The IOC’s job is to find a city that has a facility nice enough to host the figure skating and gymnastics and then they go about balancing the other factors. Women like pretty places so Sydney, Barcelona, St Moritz and the like all receive strong consideration. The various countries and continents all like to feel wanted (and women believe it is good to be fair to all of them) so the sites tend to rotate around the world. American women impact ratings the most, so the Olympics do tend to land often in the USA (Vancouver gets an almost USA here because some mix it up with Vancouver, Washington and even those who know it is in Canada appreciate events that occur in our prime time and not the middle of the night). Appropriate weather for skiers in the the winter Olympics, just like non-smog atmospheres for runners in the summer Olympics are on the list, but are well down below the vital, monetary considerations.

    Franz Klammer was a big deal in the 1976 Winter Olympics, but he was no Dorothy Hamill. Carl Lewis was a big deal in the 1984 Summer Olympics, but he was no Mary Lou Retton. The stars of the games are not the runners and skiers, but instead are the tumblers and skaters. If you make the women viewers happy they will continue to watch and continue to pay the bills even if the snow is trucked in for the skiers or the air in unbreathable for the runners.

  2. deepsthboy Says:

    Lee Roi, it seems you are just going to be a constant whipping boy. You couldn’t be further off the mark with your comments about why a venue is chosen. While Canada is certainly a logical choice to host the Winter Olympics, having already done so as recently as 1988 in Calgary.

    But if you think there is any consistent correlation between the location of the games and the TV ratings, and therefore the money, then you would be sadly mistaken. The Lake Placid games were the highest rated in the past 30 years, but the highest rated of the past 20 was NOT Salt Lake, but rather Lillehammer. And Sarajevo’s numbers were comparable to those of Calgary. So your theory is way off the mark.

    In addition, most people know that televising the Olympics is a money-losing proposition regardless of the venue, so although NBC has a voice in the process, the organizers are left to find suitable cities based on their ability to create the appropriate venues, yes, but if you think that finding a city that can host alpine skiing with the appropriate weather is somehow way down the list of priorities, then you had better be careful the next time your employer is doing a drug screening.

  3. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    I apologize once again for being unclear. I did not mean to imply there was necessrily a link between host selection and TV ratings. My point was that as long as they had an indoor arena for figure skating (winter) or gymnastics (summer) all other factors were secondary. Pretty cities are nice, but not necessary. Suitable weather is nice, but not necessary. International political considerations are nice, but not necessary.

    They bring the games frequently to the USA (and Canada, the quasi-USA) partly for television convenience but more to prevent them from becoming too foreign. The ladies like the exotic feel of Barcelona or Torino, but a regular grounding in North America is necessary to prevent the large mass of middle American women (you can take that phrase in more than one way) from turning away because the games are too foreign.

  4. Traci Badenhausen Says:

    You’ve got to be kidding? They chose this site many a year ago – blame Global Warming – where should they have looked to hold the event? Jacksonville? It’s been real cold there this year….

    • deepsthboy Says:

      Traci, my sense is that when the IOC is doing their research into potential locations for the Olympics (summer or winter), they should study not just the average temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, and so on during the period in which the scheduled games are to be held, but also the extremes. Yes, Vancouver was chosen years ago, but it’s not like the passing of five years or so is going to have a radical effect on the weather in the chosen city.

      There is a good reason that we are unlikely to see another Super Bowl in Atlanta. The last time we had one, there was an ice storm and the temperatures were decidedly un-fan friendly. Locations like Miami and San Diego will always get the SB more often because fans are far more likely to enjoy nice weather. The same should hold true for the sites of the Olympics, but not because of fans. It should be because the events themselves should be able to be held on the days they’ve been scheduled. And the notion that the Vancouver people should have to truck in huge loads of snow is absurd.

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