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Eureka: Making the most out of the Olympics Eureka: Making the most out of the Olympics
by Akli Hadid
2017-02-25 11:04:16
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Pyeongchang 2018. Tokyo 2020. Beijing 2022. Traditionally, the Olympic Games are located in countries with a growing middle class, and the idea is to build sporting infrastructure that will benefit the growing middle class children, whose parents can initiate them to new and different sports.  

Rio 2016 should have been the case, but the recession in Brazil means that its middle class is dwindling. What do I mean by benefiting middle class children? The Olympic Games traditionally have two-fold objectives: showcasing the best athletes in several disciplines in sports, as well as building infrastructure for any country’s middle class children to enjoy sports that are popular in some places but not known in others. Rowing and canoeing could be an example, as well as windsurfing or weightlifting, martial arts such as judo and taekwondo or team sports such as volleyball or handball or snowboarding in the case of winter sports.

The idea is for the children of the middle class, once the venues have been built, to organize tribes around such sports, which starts with the sport’s federation and its different chapters. For example the national rowing federation, windsurfing federation and so on, with the HQ perhaps located in a large city and different chapters in smaller cities. The idea is then to organize tournaments in such sports as well as friendly meetings with no real stakes for the winners.

The next three Olympiads will be held in countries which tend to have elitist mentalities and which are preparing athletes to perform well at the Olympics, but I have noticed that the different sports represented at the Olympics are not triggering as much enthusiasm as the gold, silver or bronze medals that could be won by local athletes.

The idea with the Olympics is to raise a generation of people who can have fun playing the sports, then have a few of them become professionals and try to win at the sports. However, in the next three Olympic venues, the idea for many athletes who start practicing a sport is to win gold, not to have fun.

oly01_400_01The best way is to have well organized national federations in the different sports so that athletes can enjoy competition while having fun. If you want to milk the Olympics, you will need athletes to start at a very young age, say 8 to 10 years old, which is the best age to learn a sport. So to be economically viable, different federations will have to sign agreements with schools so that schoolchildren can join the different sports and learn and join competitions.

Only if enough children join the different federations will the sports be economically viable. Another target range is university students. But if university students did not learn a sport at a young age, it will be hard for them to practice the sport in university, so you might as well see such students at the lounge drinking tea while others play the sports.

The notion of middle class is also one that can be problematic, which is why federations should encourage by way of scholarships or financial support younger children from less favorable backgrounds who want to play the sport. As for the host city, the advertisement they get is quite nice, as a lot of products are derived from the Olympics, such as shirts or video games, which make the cities more recognizable.

What about the Olympic venues? They might be used by university students during breaks or for other global sporting events. However, to make sure that university students use them, you might want to build similar but smaller size venues near other large cities so that schoolchildren can learn the sport.

As always, we wish the Olympic cities best of luck in all aspects!


      
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