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Have we seen the last Olympics as we know it?

By Curt Anderson
July 16, 2021 5:32 pm
Category: Sports
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Perhaps I've become jaded in my old age but I have very little interest in the upcoming Olympics.

The quadrennial event next week will certainly be lackluster compared to past Olympics. Tokyo must be suffering a terrible financial loss. Because of COVID there won't be any fans to cheer on the competitors. No fans equals no tourists. No tourists equals a terrible disappointment to the restaurateurs and hoteliers.

Without the fans, the drama of the games is diminished, which is bad news for NBC which paid billions for the television rights. I may be wrong, but I expect that the Nielsen ratings will be dismal. Advertisers won't like that.

In the pre-internet age, even though the Olympic events were televised on a delay to be broadcast during America's waking hours, most people didn't know the outcome of the events. Now anybody can look up the times and scores online, so much of the suspense is gone.

In the past, here in America and elsewhere, there were only few television options and the alternatives to the Olympics were Summer re-runs on the other channels. Now we have Hulu, Netflix and countless other entertainment options.

Given that even before the pandemic the Olympics were a losing proposition for host cities, I wonder how eager politicians will be to invest their country's coffers in an Olympic bid. Unless NBC makes a reasonable profit in the next few weeks, who will want to pay a fortune for broadcast rights next time?

Future Olympics may need a less extravagant business plan to remain viable. Perhaps the Olympic Organizing Committee can start by not recreating new Olympic villages and one-time use stadiums and venues every four years.

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