Being chosen to host the Olympic Games is a complicated process. Without delving into that issue too much, here’s a take on what becoming an Olympic City typically signifies — that a city somewhere in the world has passed a threshold and become a “world city” at least in the eyes of the voting delegates. With so many Olympic delegate votes coming from outside North America and Europe, cities that win tend to have connections to these other (non-western if you like) places and people.
- London (like Vancouver for the winter games) played the multi-cultural, city-of-immigrants-from-everywhere card in it’s successful bid.
- Beijing is the capital city of one of the most influential and powerful countries on earth.
- Sydney’s chance to host concluded a multi-decade process in Australia of placing the country within the Asia-Pacific region, as part of Asia, moving away from the isolationist “White Australia” policy of the mid 20th century.
Rio de Janeiro’s opportunity — somewhat like that of Beijing — recognizes how far Brazil has come politically and economically since the end of military dictatorship in the mid 1980s. The faces of Rio are also the faces of the world. Anyone and everyone can blend in (and with the skimpy bikini culture offering somewhat of a leveling mechanism).
To be sure, Rio has poverty and crime problems — but its hard to find a big world city with the resources to host the Summer Olympics that doesn’t have some detracting issue. Such is the nature of dynamic cities – growth brings tension; tension breeds creative solutions as well as strife. Hosting the Games in a Ghost Town isn’t an option.
Plus, the Games tend to bring investment, jobs, and opportunities — a chance for individuals, businesses and a city to move forward. Although economic activity is never equally distributed in a city, everyone benefits from there being more economic activity and more jobs rather than fewer.
So congratulations (bom trabalho) to everyone in Brazil who worked hard on the bid books.
Should be a great world party.