Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 17, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

AN OLYMPIC MOMENT....There's more Olympics tonight, but of course I already know how everything is going to turn out since I spent my day surfing the news online. Oh well.

But for a non-time zone specific take on the Olympics, here is Christina Larson in the current issue of the Washington Monthly, wondering why the Olympics are held in a different city every four years:

Professional golf tournaments return to the same courses year after year, allowing the staffs there to learn from their mistakes. Same with tennis: The groundskeepers at Wimbledon have had decades to practice pulling out the rain tarps and emptying out the parking lots. Yet the Olympics tries to reinvent the wheel every time, fielding a new team of planners, contractors, accountants, technicians, security personnel, and volunteers every four years, and expecting them to execute myriad complex logistical tasks perfectly the first time out. As Atlanta's Olympic finance chief Pat Glisson explained to CFO magazine, her job was to "create a Fortune 500 company from scratch, then take it apart at the end."

Good point. I can understand how national pride drives the decision to change cities and countries for each Olympics, but I'm a little surprised that the local organizing committees are given so much authority. Wouldn't the games go more smoothly if the IOC had a permanent professional staff that handled a greater share of the planning than it currently does?

Actually, golf might be a pretty good model. With the exception of the Masters, the major golf tournaments actually do move around from year to year, but I think the national golf organizations exercise pretty substantial control over most of the organization and planning. I wonder if a similar model would work for the Olympics?

Kevin Drum 12:04 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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