Olympics 2016: The candidates' YHAGNIOT form guide

Submitted by Rick Eyre on October 2 2009, 1:15 pm

Later today the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games will be announced. On the principle of "You've had a go now it's our turn", the winner should be Rio de Janeiro. It's not that simple, of course.

Of the four candidate cities, the first to be eliminated under the YHAGNIOT Principle would be Madrid. The Games are set for Western Europe in 2012 (London), and were last held in Spain in 1992 (Barcelona) - unless you dismiss the latter as a selfish act of Samaranch parochialism.

Tokyo would also fail the YHAGNIOT test, even though its last staging of the Games in 1964 is probably far enough into the past. The fact is that the Asia-Pacific region will have hosted the Olympics twice in the previous four Olympiads, in 2000 (Sydney) and 2008 (Beijing). And oh that timezone hassle for the TV networks!

Chicago should also fail the YHAGNIOT test on the basis that the USA has hosted the Games twice in the past three decades - 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1996 (Atlanta). Whole continents have to wait longer, and more about that in a minute. Chicago has the O factor going in their favour - Obama, Oprah, O Say Can You See (the most popular song on the gold medal dais)...

Rio de Janeiro has a few things going for it. The Olympics have never been held in South America, they would be staged in a smiliar timezone to the States for that all-pervasive television market. It would come two years after the FIFA World Cup is hosted by Brazil.

The question I want to ask is: Would a Rio Olympic Games transform the city, and provide a solution to its poverty and crime? If, as is the common fix in Olympic cities, its chronic problems are temporarily brushed aside, then the answer has to be to go elsewhere.

I wouldn't say that the 2000 Olympics were a bad thing for Sydney - far from it - but did it lift living standards in the city? Did it give our public transport infrastructure a meaningful boost? (You can stop laughing at this point.) Sure it lifted our tourist profile. So? Environmental improvements? The NSW Government has actually ripped out trees planted in the Olympic precinct so that a V8 Supercar road race can be staged in the streets where we strolled from venue to venue in September 2000.

There will be a verdict announced in Copenhagen around 3am Saturday, Sydney time. This is one time the world should tell President Obama where to put his "Bob the Builder" mantra (ie, into a domestic Public Option healthcare system).