Olympic Host Cities usually get a reputation for spending a ton of money building venues that become white elephants, but that’s not necessarily the case. The International Olympic Committee has released a report that catalogs all of the modern Olympic venues and what’s happened to them.
We delve into this report and examine the IOC’s findings. We find some surprises–and not just in the math that results in 100% of a city’s venues still being in use–like Montreal and Munich, and some sadness (Athens, Rio, Torino, we’re looking at you).
If you’re in our Facebook group, you may have seen one of the more interesting repurposing of an Olympic venue: The stadium from St. Moritz 1928 and 1948 is now a private residence (and it looks gorgeous on the inside!).
Speaking of residences, many of the Olympic Villages became residential properties–and some are even up on AirBnb, so you too can experience what Village life was like! Jill’s stayed in the Montreal 1976 Village, and it was pretty cool:
But we can’t guarantee every Village apartment will be ideal. Remember the issues with the Sochi Village:
We also have an update from TKFLASTAN and Team Keep the Flame Alive members
- Former National Governing Body Executive Phil Andrews
- Gymnast (and now USA Gymnastics Technical Lead) Chellsie Memmel
- Beach volleyball player Kelly Claes Cheng
- Sport climber Josh Levin
We also have a doping update–Sochi 2014 and Tokyo 2020 medal classifications, anyone? And if you remember a Para Discus controversy from Tokyo 2020, the decision is in on Vinod Kumar.
The International Modern Pentathlon Union has announced that it will test obstacle course racing as the fifth discipline, replacing equestrian.
Plus, Paris 2024’s got some inflation woes, and Milan-Cortina 2026 released its song:
And LA 2028 is getting a little closer to figuring out what sports should be on its program. We mention this interesting Wall Street Journal article that looks at the campaigns of some of the sports trying to make the Olympic stage.
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: While we attempt to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.
Jill: [00:00:00] This episode is sponsored by Winter\Victor Studio.
Jill: Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. alison, how lo how are you?
Alison: Hello. So Tokyo I’ve noticed has been doing a lot of events as in one year post. Which has been kind of cool, but it feels like Mother Nature decided to remind me about how hot Tokyo was. So the heat wave came in and I’m, I’m in New England, I’m in the Northeast. We should not be seeing 90.
Jill: I hear you. We have that here as well, and it’s tough.
Alison: So I did not go run a marathon in Sapporo to try and beat the heat. I just sat around drinking some lemonade and iced tea and arguing with my daughter about why they were called Arnold Palmers.
Jill: How was Rib Fest?
Alison: Rib Fest was, a huge success though. I have to confess there ended up being no ribs. Matt ended up making a pulled pork and some smoked chicken and some smoked sausage. So we were getting a little variety. He got a little excessive on the smoke, but everybody was happy. And I had my grilled vegetables, so I was happy.
Jill: Excellent. I was going to ask how a Sides Fest for you in the kitchen.
Alison: Sides Fest for me was wonderful. We had some Georgia corn. We had some grilled vegetables. We had chips and salsa, which is basically all I need to make a meal.
Jill: Well, today we are going to talk legacy. The IOC had the rest of its session from Beijing 2022 and some executive board meetings. But the, one of the big things they released was a report on the l egacy status of all of the venues used for yes. For, for the modern Olympics, which was pretty amazing.
So we have delved into this report and we are going to discuss what is happening with the legacy of these venues today. But first we would like to thank our sponsor for the show Winter\Victor Studio, Winter\Victor believes that sport and beautiful design go hand in hand. And then designer’s versatility is just as important as an athlete’s dexterity.
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Alison: We read the report. So you don’t have to,
Jill: yeah, I will say this report. It was, it was 300 pages.
Alison: Though it did have some handy tables and graphics that did sort of direct you. Though I questioned whether the IOC understands what a hundred percent means.
Jill: I thought that as well, especially, okay. So they did this first ever inventory of post games use of Olympic venues. They looked at how many venues were at an Olympics, whether they were existing, newly built for the games or where they’re temporary. And then are they still in use? And this report was audited by KPMG.
And as we got further down into, especially into winter, I started going, huh? What is your definition of still in use? And what is KPMG’s definition of auditing these numbers? Because math was not working and it was late. So I just said, maybe it’s my brain. Maybe, maybe a bobsled venue. That’s not in use is still in use, but I don’t know.
That’s just me.
Alison: So in terms of the layout, so they went back to Athens, 1896 listing every venue that was used. And what was remarkable to me is when you get into a games like 1900 Paris in 1904 St. Louis 1904 St. Louis was because those were such chaotic games and went over, six months time that they knew what each of the venues were, you know, like was it lost in history?
And they really seem to have incredibly good records. So in terms of the framework of the report, it was extremely detailed and they did not fudge that kind of information. So they included every venue from 1896. At first, they went through all the summers. [00:05:00] First, they went through all the winters, they had a pie graph of what you were saying, new, existing or temporary and then listed a table of each venue and whether it was in use, not in use or demolished basically. And it was amazing. I mean, this, this is such an amazing resource for all this information about what took place, where when yeah. So that piece of information for researchers and, and Olympic historians is fantastic.
I have to question their definition of venues because right off the bat, they do define what they say is in use. So a stadium in use can be used as a sports facility and event location or a tourist attraction. And that tourist attraction piece, I think is kind of what saved them on a few facilities, because can you really say uh, Facility is in use if people just can’t come to see it because it was used for the Olympics. So that to me, doesn’t say in use.
Jill: Right. And we talked about this, not that long ago with Barcelona because one of the soccer teams in Barcelona, their stadium is getting renovated. So they’re going to be moving into the Barcelona Olympic stadium.
And the article flat out said, it’s not really used. And that definition, I thought the same thing with that definition of in use, is it a we’re open for tours? So like a handful of people come through every day, or I would love the in use definition to be, we are covering operational costs in use
and that I don’t think is happening. And I think part of it is just because the research that they did was. a lot. They had people on the ground looking at stuff. They did interviews where they could. And then a lot of website looking up because it, especially near the end, it really got websites.
It got kind of website that you knew that, oh, this is what your venue could be used for. And a lot of it felt like it could be taken off. That’s not to say that some of these venues aren’t getting used tremendously and surprisingly so.
Alison: It surprised me when you look at, especially the summer venues say pre-World War II.
Alison: That 36 back. Number one, so many were not demolished. And so many of those games were in Europe. So you would think that they got destroyed in either World War I or World War II. And yet they didn’t seem to, and that they were still actually being used because after the table, each venue gets a paragraph with a lot of detail in it. So when you said in use, you can look at the paragraph and see what that really meant. And a lot of those very old venues were truly in use, which surprised me. Cause I’m thinking, you know, how many hundred year old, 150 year old buildings are still in use, nevermind this kind of facility.
But then I realized as I was again, looking through the detail, so many of those were existing venues, so they were already part of the culture and fabric of the city. So for them to continue being used was not so strange, but just the fact that so many of them didn’t get destroyed because there were comments about rebuilt because there were several ones, especially when we get to Sarajevo, they had three there that specifically said rebuilt because they were destroyed during the war. But the report did not shy away from that either. It said, this facility was destroyed during the war. It has been rebuilt, rebuilt as a museum. So I was impressed with, in a way how honest the report was, even though some of its math was a little shaky, but when you got into the text, it was very, very clear what things were being used for.
Jill: Right. And, and very, very clear Athens, Rio that, I mean, when you look at the percentage that they came up with with what was in use for these cities, and then you’ve read the text on them, whoa, they do not shy away from, we did not plan for the organizing committee– because IOC doesn’t manage this– did not plan for reuse. The venue is empty. It’s not being reused.
In Rio, again, the swimming venue, which we have talked about, because remember when we were saying. At the pools being moved finally. Yeah. But then the, the, the pools were moved because they were designed to be temporary and designed to be moved to other parts of the country. But the structure that the pools were in was really a permanent structure [00:10:00] and was supposed to be dismantled and hasn’t been dismantled yet. So it looks abandoned.
Alison: The other thing that surprised me was we think of the nineties and the early two thousands as being that boom of, we want the fanciest shiniest facilities, you know, we’re going to build, build, build, build, build, and yet, other than Athens, the facilities from the nineties and the early two thousands looked really good in terms of usage.
Like they actually have teams playing in those facilities. They actually have events happening in those indoor facilities. So that surprised me. a lot ’cause you hear about the white elephant, the white elephant, the white elephant, and we’re getting away from permanent venues. And yet those seemed to be well used.
And I wonder if that’s because so many of those cities through the nineties used it as an event to rebuild a section of the city, even though they built a lot. Atlanta. Even going back to 88 Seoul. And Barcelona? They seem to have rebuilt a section of the city that then continued, those were the cities that I expected to see. Oh, so many buildings not in use. I knew Athens was going to be bad. Athens was the worst of any summer games in terms of its use continued use of facilities and not being demolished and not being repurposed or rebuilt. It was just not in use, not in use, not in use. So that was expected, but still depressing.
Jill: Yeah, exactly. Let’s take a look at the overall numbers for percent still in use in the summer. There is one host city that has 100% of its venues still in use. One. And that would be St. Louis 1904.
Alison: Which is hysterical. Right. Because that was the one that was kind of part of the World’s Fair and all over the place.
But I think that goes back to those facilities were already well in use. And I think did they, did they have some demolished though?
Jill: They had only six venues and one was temporary. So all of the permanent venues were still in use forward. Existing. A lot of us ended up going to a university in St. Louis.
Alison: makes sense?
Jill: Yes. That that’s, what’s kept them in use. So I thought that, I thought that was hilarious since we know so little about those games anyway, but they also, yeah, like they also had the fewest number of venues for a summer games
Alison: Because the summer games went on for 475 years. So they just kept reusing the same things.
They just had it at the same buildings because nothing was happening concurrently.
Jill: City that was the least still in use is Amsterdam 1928 with 50%. They had 12 venues. Seven were existing. One was new and four were temporary, but for 1928 Olympics, this does not surprise me.
Alison: And Amsterdam was a city that during World War II was kind of raised to the ground.
I mean the Amsterdam of 1928, wasn’t the Amsterdam post-World War II. Nevermind what the Amsterdam is of today. It’s a completely different city. So that doesn’t surprise me.
Jill: Also surprising the city that that had the most venues was Beijing 2008, with 39 venues.
And most of them as we get into the late eighties, we’re starting to see venues in the thirties, even Munich, 1972 had 32 venues. So we’re starting to see more venues pop up, more venues pop up, but Beijing had 39 and 12 were existing. 18 were new. They claim that 30 are still in use and that’s a 97% success rate. I have a hard time believing that.
Alison: Agreed. And what is again, in use to somebody walk through there once a day though, to be fair. When we saw the Olympic Park, obviously the Bird’s Nest still in use. The most expensive probably. And, and the biggest venue and the things in the Olympic Park seemed to still be used.
Jill: Yeah, it’s a, it’s probably a big gathering place and there’s a huge sculpture garden type thing, things to walk around. I am not sure that the Bird’s Nest gets used as much as we think, because do you remember when after the games were over, there were all these plans and they were going to have like opera in there and uh, sports teams and then like nothing happened for years and it was expensive.
So it was nice that they could be reused for Beijing 2022. But again is this operational financial sufficiently use versus we’re going to have a few concerts in here.[00:15:00]
Alison: Maybe if they put toilet paper in the stalls,
Jill: There’s a legacy of how things used to be. The, the one thing, one interesting thing about Beijing 2008 was they had two temporary venues that were not dismantled. And they were supposed to be. So beach volleyball is still hanging out as a venue, but they aren’t using it either. BMX got repurposed and is being reviewed re-used I think as a, bike track still.
what other city surprised you on this list?
Alison: Actually Munich, because they had so many facilities. And so many were still in use. And you would think we heard a lot of things about both Munich and Montreal about how poorly things were constructed, because it was all raised to finish race, to finish.
And yet both Munich and Montreal. When we knew about Montreal Olympic Park, they’ve really found a way to keep that going, but all the smaller facilities as well, so that 72 and 76 got such a bad rap for losing so much money for those cities. And yet those facilities are still truly in use, not this sort of in use in air quotes.
Jill: Right, right. Munich did not surprise me since I had lived there and spent quality time in the Olympic Park area because it’s a really beautiful area. There’s a lot of just being out in nature that you could walk around and people would hike. You can use the pool Just stuff to do. There were soccer and there’s concerts in the stadium a lot.
So that one didn’t surprise me. Montreal made me happy for the most part, except for there was one where the last time I was in Montreal, we stopped by the rowing facility, which is used. Don’t get it is used. But I noticed on the description of, it was like, oh, it’s next to this park with a beach that people go to I’m like, Hmm.
Are they going to the facility? Are they going to the beach? Hmm let’s get real here.
Alison: But to be fair, the facility probably provides the restrooms for the beach. So crucial concessions as well.
Jill: So in Montreal they had 24 venues. 15 were existing, seven were new, which that also surprised me.
The number of existing venues really surprised me. 96% still in use and having been there and seen what the facility is like and having swim in the pool and also seeing just like how hard they’re working to keep that stadium afloat. It’s I think it’s impressive so that there, and I don’t think they’ll ever shake the fact that it took 30 years to pay off the stadium, but maybe this will help.
Alison: The other thing that made me the most sad was the Olympic villages seem to everyone’s planning for them to be apartments or college dormitories. So those you see very, very rarely as in, I found only one where the village was not in use and it was Rio, which made me so sad cause that’s the most recent, but the problem was it wasn’t constructed up to code.
And of course the economy in Brazil collapsed and there’s been all kinds of civil disruption. So nobody’s buying luxury apartments and they’re certainly not buying luxury apartments that need to be renovated the minute you moved in.
Jill: That was very sad,
Alison: Even. Sochi Che seemed to manage to get that part, right?
Like those luxury apartments, even with doors, you can crash through, got sold
and we will repost that picture because that is a picture.
Jill: What else from the summer.
Alison: What I thought was interesting was that they didn’t make any qualification for size or expense of the original venue. So for example, the Birds Nest versus the beach volleyball site, they counted them equally. There wasn’t a sense of, okay, this thing costs a billion dollars to build, and this thing costs a hundred thousand dollars to build.
And what you were saying about operating costs, obviously if a beach volleyball venue gets used twice a year, it’s kind of covering its life. If a stadium that cost a billion dollars only gets used twice a year. That’s not value added. So there was no distinction made for size, expense, or extent of use
Jill: Yeah. another thing. Speaking of these huge stadiums, one thing that shocked me was in Seoul, how the Olympic Stadium there has been trimmed down. So it was a [00:20:00] hundred thousand capacity in 1988. It got reduced to 69,500 people. And they’re going to refurbish it again by 2025 to reduce it to 50,000.
Alison: That was the other thing that the report counted as in use. If a facility has been completely rebuilt or refurbished to me, that’s not in use, that should be in the same category as the buildings that were demolished because it’s not the facility that was built for the Olympics.
Jill: Yeah, in a sense, I would go with a refurbishment versus rebuild, which is like Wembley in London.
That’s a total tear down and rebuild, but they still call it Wembley Stadium.
Alison: Though that the, the Wembley from 1948, I mean, what stadiums are still standing from 1948?
Jill: 19 of them, at least.
Alison: So that didn’t bother me as much simply because number one, Wembley Stadium, the new Wembley Stadium is used every week and it was used every week. So that building a new stadium on that site, no one is going to call having rebuild Wembley as a white elephant.
Alison: So there was not, I like this report as a first step, I kind of want a second analysis for how much money was spent to build the facility, versus how much has been put into it again, how much that facility is losing money.
Jill: Yes. And another thing to keep in mind is a lot of the existing stadiums we’re talking about are for football and how many soccer stadiums do you need to put on this football tournament and that they just used from stadiums, from around the country.
Alison: Right? Because like when we did Atlanta moments, they were using stadiums as far south, as Florida.
And as far north as Virginia, because you’re not going to build 10 soccer stadiums to be able to use. But the nice thing about a soccer stadium is it can be used for many different things.
Jill: Yes. I always had to keep that in my mind when we talked, when, when I read like, oh, here’s the number of venues they had.
Well, okay. So how many of those were for soccer and obviously most of those get reused because there’s clubs all over the place. I noticed that a serious amount of modern pentathlon venues and shooting ranges have been demolished. I didn’t keep track, but it was just like when you saw something, oh, either newly built or existing unused demolished, not in use demolished, like over and over again, that happened. And so many facilities were needed for the earlier pre 1996, even 1996, they had a ton of facilities for modern pentathlon.
It’s only now that we have one stadium for this whole thing. And you think about a sport that requires so much infrastructure to be used. And even though they could put some elements in, in places that other competitions were at, not all the time though.
Alison: The shooting ranges didn’t bother me so much because number one, I can’t imagine they’re terribly expensive to construct.
And I would expect the early shooting ranges if you’re talking about being relatively near a city, because those were all outdoor. That’s very desirable real estate. So I wouldn’t expect them to be able to survive simply because you got a big open field in the middle of London or in the middle of Paris, that is not going to sit idle for people to shoot things.
And you can’t use it as a range because it’s too close to population centers, right? So the indoor ones, obviously at that’s, that’s very different because then maybe you possibly have a building you can repurpose for something else, but those outdoor ones I would expect. And the same thing with modern pentathlon, equestrian courses that is a lot of real estate, that’s usually quite beautiful and, sort of like living on a golf course.
Oh, golf courses. Those didn’t seem to come up a lot. I guess, cause they’re always using established golf courses now.
Jill: No, but they did say the Rio one was still in use and that was built special. And remember Rio doesn’t really have a golfing culture. So how much that was another one.
Where how much use are we getting? How financially viable is this venue?
Alison: They fly in, they launder some money and then play some golf
Jill: and leave. Oh wow.
One of the other things surprised me is velodrome reuse and how many cities put more things into the center of the velodrome track to reuse them hockey, pitches, soccer, pitches, all of these other reuse elements to keep those tracks going.
Alison: I saw that now that you said that [00:25:00] I guess a velodrome is a really good small to mid-size stadium.
And you’ve got that whole center space. So obviously athletics get put in this enormous track, natatoriums, enormous. Velodromes are kind of that mid size that a lot of different events can be held in. And maybe the acoustics are really good. It’s got that cool shape. B
Jill: could be
Alison: A lot of the modern velodromes they have made them look very cool, which then makes it attractive for other uses.
Jill: Right, right, right. I was also surprised at some of the, the reuse one jumped out LA 1932, the Olympic Auditorium that had wrestling and weightlifting and boxing was a sports venue after the games. But then in 2005, a Korean mega-church bought it and now it’s a big church complex.
Alison: Hey, it is in use.
Jill: I did start going down the rabbit hole of where can I Airbnb village? Because you can, there are so many villages that are still in use and some of them, you can Airbnb and stay in a village like w we did that in Montreal, but you can do that. I think in Helsinki, I think you can probably probably do it in Munich.
You can do it in Montreal. You can, and there are many, many other villages.
Alison: I bet you could. I bet you could. One place. You don’t want to Airbnb? Lake Placid.
Oh, right. Because part of the village is a prison. but Hey, it’s being used right?
Jill: One very cool thing about Tokyo 1964 for listener Kaori in Yoyogi Park, which is where the village was.
The village got dismantled and that was a planned element. It became Yoyogi Park and a small part of the village still remains in the south Eastern corner of the park, kind of as a Memorial, but then they also have within the park, a sample garden with trees, grown from seeds, brought to Japan from all over the world by athletes who competed there.
Alison: I remember we talked about the trees. I think when we read the Tokyo 1964 book, that there was something about the tree, but that’s in Yoyogi Park. Oh, that’s really nice.
Jill: I like that. I like that legacy
Alison: And isn’t that nice. Cause Japan. Sort of reverse that legacy with the cherry blossoms in so many cities that came from Japan originally, and then to have trees from other countries coming to them.
I hope there are no invasive species in their frogs, like happened so much here in the Northeast with people transporting trees, but that’s really lovely and a nice specifically Olympic legacy, given that it’s all about bringing the world together.
Jill: I also wanted to note as I go through stuff Sydney, 2000,
They had a lot of stuff. Big stadium built has been talked about tearing it down and rebuilding, but they’ve refurbished it instead of, and I think made the seating smaller, with every city, they, they did their charts and their lists.
And then they had to did, you know, section. And this was, oh, did you know that the Olympic Park, including the stadium was built on land to the indigenous Wann-gall people? And I wonder how much of a situation this was or has been in Australia.
Alison: It’s so funny, you bring this up because today on LinkedIn, the Australian Olympic Committee has started posts about, learn about the land that facilities are built on.
And I cannot remember the hashtag it’s something like be brave to speak out.
So they are talking about this exact issue. And I wonder if this report is what pushed them to discuss it more openly, but yes. So it is absolutely a topic in Australia. The idea that these iconic Western style facilities in Australia are on stolen land for lack of a, probably a politically incorrect phrase, but the land that belongs to the indigenous people of Australia.
Jill: Okay. Let’s move over to the winter games.
Alison: First thing that jumped out at me, there is no city named for 1960.
Jill: Yes. I thought that was fascinating. Yeah.
Alison: We’ve talked about how they’ve changed the name of the city. It is considered offensive by Native Americans. Absolutely. And the IOC started to refer to it as Lake Tahoe, but it seems like they haven’t settled how they’re going to deal with their 1960 history.
[00:30:00] And here they just had 1960 winter host city. And in the symbol, like what was all the pages have the logo. They have taken out the city’s name and it just says California. So they have not settled on how they were, they are going to refer to this, but they are respecting the, city to say, you don’t want us to use this term anymore.
We will not use the term. We don’t know what we’re going to use. I would think Lake Tahoe would be the most appropriate, but that’s not really accurate. That’s not what it was called at the time. So we will refer to it like the Washington Football Team, the 1960 Winter Games. It’s just, I guess it’s how we’re supposed to refer to it.
Jill: What surprised me besides the 1960 thing? Cause that jumped out to me as well, was the number of games where a hundred percent of the facilities are still in use or quote unquote still in use.
Alison: Well, so much because demolished and dismantled doesn’t count toward that hundred percent.
Jill: Well, yes, for temporary venues that does not count.
And that makes sense to me. But you do have part of that is so the cities that they say are 100% still in use Chamonix 1924, 3. Two were new and one was temporary. Lake Placid, 1932 Garmisch Partenkirchen 1936. Oh. Did you notice that their ski jump was very popular? I could pick up was Eddie, the Eagle.
So glad we watched the movie this year, cause it’s really coming back.
Alison: And you argued with us about watching that movie.
Jill: I know I take,
Alison: Film Buff Fran knows what she ‘s talking about.
Jill: Innsbruck 1964 and 1976. So that
Alison: we’re nearly all the same venues,
Jill: right? Lake Placid, 1980. Albertville 1992 Lillehammer, 1994. Nagano 1998 though that I would totally dispute Salt Lake City, 2002, Vancouver, 2010 Sochi, 2014.
A lot of games are supposedly. Still using all of their venues.
Alison: Though, a lot of those winter venues got repurposed. They were altered for what they are though, to be fair, a hockey arena, a figure skating arena, a speed skating oval. Those are going to get used. I mean, when we were in Lake Placid years ago, that building had a convention, all the youth hockey going on, you skated on the oval, they have that outdoor oval.
So that Lake Placid one, I think feels right. You know, We know that the, the U S bobsled team trains, they’re the luge, those felt right. But Sochi they don’t even get snow in Sochi.
Jill: Right. So that one felt a little off, I would say, like a lot of these venues really are mainstay stops on world cup circuits for a lot of sports. Innsbruck, huge sporting mecca, Norway, a lot of sports going on there.
I was kind of surprised that Lillehammer was a hundred percent to be quite honest.
Alison: A lot of the winter, especially for things like Alpine and Nordic, they just used existing tracks, things that were already world cup stops and made it nicer. Albertville will, we talked about Valdez there.
I know how to pronounce that because Valdez air has been erased on the world’s cup for as long as I can remember. So I think Europe gets away with that and Milano-Cortina is going to do the same thing. They’re Nordic and they’re Alpine runs or already. They’re not building a mountain like they did in Beijing, but shockingly, absolutely shockingly, the facilities that are not in use ski jumping and bobsled. Overwhelmingly, which goes back to a conversation that we had in Beijing that I don’t think we’ve ever had on the air is should a criteria for a sport being in the Olympics, be the facility. Do you need a separate facility? And will that facility be used afterwards?
Jill: Yeah. And one thing that surprised me here, w when we talk about reuse, supposedly bobsled and skeleton will be going to Beijing and have a world cup stop there. And hopefully include [00:35:00] Pyong Chang in that to keep using that track. The Sapporo bobsled sliding track has been dismantled.
The Nagano sliding track has been closed due to high maintenance costs. It got closed in 2018. So could you reopen it? Don’t know. One that some really surprised me and I thought this was interesting was Oslo 1952. They had a natural bobsled track because there was no culture of bobsled in Norway. So they were like, well, we’re going to make this natural track.
They never used it for bobsled. Again, they did use it for luge. A couple of years later, they had to luge world cup. And then after that luge world cup in 1955, they didn’t rebuild it. And now it’s just a sledding hill for public use. I wonder if you could say we are going to build quote unquote natural tracks.
If we don’t have one in place, is that cheaper? Don’t know because you have to have snow.
Alison: I don’t think climate change will allow you to have natural tracks anymore.
Jill: Cause even the St. Moritz track, which is natural, they have some elements that are permanent in there. Some concrete here and there, but they rebuild that track all the time.
So that’s really sad because that I thought was like, oh, there’s a solution. Just build something natural and go with it. But if you can’t, that’s an issue.
Alison: And I think given how fast the bobsleds go now, the variation in conditions that a natural track would have might be too dangerous.
So we heard a lot about issues with Torino. And those facilities depressing to read. That was rough. So that had a lot of not in use, but the worst part about this was several of the end-user venues were used as COVID medical facilities.
So just like mass hospitals and mass quarantine sites. And I thought, number one, how can you count that as in use, which they sort of did on their percentage, but didn’t really when you got down to the paragraphs and what a horrific reminder of what has been going on the past few years and when they were doing this report and how, at some point they couldn’t travel anymore.
And probably when you were saying before, about how to use website, there came a point probably where they were stuck in Lausanne. And said, we can’t go anywhere because everybody’s borders are closed. So we’re going to hope we can collect all that information. But just we knew Torino was a mess at the time and we knew Torino was going to be a mess after, but to have it same with Athens, same with Rio, but to have it just laid out and said, these facilities were poorly built to begin with.
So not worth keeping open, not worth trying to rebuild it. It was just the money that, just flowed out of that city was so sad and makes me worry about Milano Cortina.
Jill: Very much so. And when you look at the basic numbers, this report says that 87% of Torino’s venues are still in use. You know, You look at the village, we’ve seen stories about the village, the Milan village, the there’s like a satellite village that’s been used as residential, but like the main village where they said, oh, it was supposed to be switched to residential use, plans have not fully come to fruition.
The site has faced challenges over the last 14 years and has been like makeshift accommodations for refugees and migrants. And it’s vacated it set for redevelopment, but boy, that’s a lot of money to dump into building something like you said, and then it just sits empty. And then somebody is going to tear it down and spend a ton more money to rebuild it.
Alison: No, the idea of it being used for refugees on the one hand Paris has talked about part of the Olympic village will be used after 2020. As temporary housing, but they’re not building it with the idea of nobody else wants it. So we’re going to stick the refugees there, which is what Torino did, building it to code and with facilities, but we’re going to save it.
So we have a building that is safe and clean and well-appointed and conserve these people for refugees and displaced persons. Whereas Torino’s use of it as a refugee site was, well, nobody wants to buy these apartments. So let’s just stick all the refugees in there because what are they going to do about the leaking ceilings and the plumbing that doesn’t work and the floors [00:40:00] that are cracked and crumbling, which makes it even worse.
Cause it’s not only did you not use it, you used it in such a horrific way to just warehouse people and dump them.
Which, you know, we sometimes make fun of the spirit of Olympism, but that’s about as far away from Olympism as, as you can get. And yeah, Torino was even more upsetting to me than Athens because Athens just not using it stuff and they have economic reasons and they have all kinds of issues. rino to just dump it sites and dump these people was really heartbreaking.
Jill: Yeah. Because you think better of Italy, you think Italy can do better. We knew that Greece had problems politically, financially. They’ve really wanted the games. This is still in the era of big builds lesson. Let’s impress everybody. We didn’t get the hundredth anniversary. We’re angry about that. So we’re just going to dump all this money in and build all these students.
They built a baseball and a softball stadium. I forgot about that. Both are not in use, you know, and that one’s just sad. Torino we thought would be better. And like you said, stuff not built correctly, they can’t use that bobsled track. I mean, there’s two bobsled tracks in Italy that cannot be used because the one in Cortina’s shut as well, supposed to be remodeled for 2026.
Alison: I mean, the idea that Torino, didn’t use Cortina’s track at the time, it makes no sense. I mean, you’re already putting things far away. It’s not like they built it in Torino I mean, there’s already off the mountain, what’s one train as opposed to another train. I mean, I understand Italy is a big place.
People, I’m not that dumb, but if you can have a soccer match from Atlanta in Virginia, you can have your bobsled track in Cortina and have it rebuilt. Instead of now in Italy, like you said, Instead of one really good usable track, we’ve got nothing
And St. Moritz is melting. So, going to St Moritz is now becoming even questionable. So should going back to what we were starting to talk about, does that then question the whole sliding sports.
You know, what I think is interesting that as we get further along, obviously there’s way more sports in the winter games. And yet we don’t see the percentages of not used because obviously the later games we’ve got moguls, we’ve got snowboard, we’ve got big air. We haven’t really gotten into facilities that, that, and yet those facilities still seem to be used.
Jill: A lot of them. I mean, now I’m going to always really kind of, I think a jump in what we saw in terms of events.
A lot of their stuff has been, some of it’s been dismantled. A lot of the venues seem to be used by summer sports, which was interesting. The moguls course not being used, so they closed it and they’re going to return it to its natural state snowboard park at closed because it’s, it’s in financial difficulty and financial difficulties due to local competition for sites and lack of snow.
So again, here we are. Another snow situation. PyeongChang, they’re having issues with getting stuff into their venues. They have these things called this thing called the dream program where the venues been part of this dream program, and they’re going to use it to build up winter sports and we’ll build up a winter sports tradition in Korea. But a few of those are not in use, ski jumping again, no major competition since 2018.
Alison: Yeah. You can’t have a sliding track or a ski jumping facility that’s not hosting competitions. You can have, obviously Alpine runs that aren’t hosting competitions. If the local population supports a recreational skiing activity, you know, an ice hockey rank a skating rink, you can use that building in that facility for lots of things.
You know, A nice sized indoor stadium in a relatively big city will never go away. You would think you know, the K-pop bands need a place to play, right. That wood floor down. You’re good. So those are okay. But then you get into all these specialty sites and can you use it for something else? Can it be used for training?
Will it be on the tour? And we’ve talked about, should there be an Asian swing of all these world cup tours, because, you know, would that then reopen Nagano? Would you have the money to refurbish these sliding tracks and then you’ve got an Asian [00:45:00] tour and then it makes sense. But climate change is making that difficult.
Jill: Right. And there are some ski jumps I noticed that do have things at the bottom. Yes. Like they’ll have soccer and we, we saw this with the Beijing venue there it’s planned to have a soccer stadium the base. Not confident that’s getting reused, but sometimes they do have events down there. And that makes me happy, but I don’t know if it’s enough events to keep the facility going again.
I mean, it’s tough on one hand, this report made me very happy. Cause I liked to see a lot of the reuse and it was very surprising to see a lot of reuse. On the other hand, it was disheartening to see when the IOC was being very frank, and there were some elements where you’re like, oh, I think you’re trying to make everything look a little bit rosier than it is.
And that’s where I start thinking, oh, I’m not as thrilled with this flat out big number of reused venues.
Alison: I’m wondering if. We went back and counted up cities that were presented in a nicer light versus not a nicer light. If the IOC, his relationship with those countries had any influence on how their recycle, and reuse or presented.
Right. I was surprised at how well Sochi was presented in some ways and how poorly Athens was presented. And some of that is fact, I mean, obviously Sochi built those facilities to use as a resort. It had always been planned in many ways, for those to be converted to summer activities.
You build a village, you’ve got beautiful hotel rooms. Fantastic. And yet Athens really took it on the chin. And was that because of the conflict between the Athens organizing committee and the IOC at the time, and those resentment still linger?
Jill: Very good question.
Alison: We need part two,
Jill: We need the off the record report.
Alison: Can you imagine what the discussions of this look like? Oh, you can’t say that you have to, I mean, this was, this could really, rip open a lot of wounds in a lot of different places and really affect the IOC, his relationship with national governing bodies and, and with host cities. And do we want to be called out. Also thought it was very interesting that Salt lake and Vancouver both were bidding for 2030, really looked super nice in this report.
Number one, Vancouver especially did an excellent job of planning that ahead of time and Salt Lake City did an excellent job with the U S OPC of saying, okay, now we’re going to make this a real hub of what we’re doing.
But they really kind of burnished them and saying, look at you, very nice boy. You are
Jill: exactly. And I was surprised that several of the Vancouver facilities are really like community rec centers now. Yes. and not just have what the venue is used for, but they also have just a ton of other stuff going on.
Alison: So Canadian.
Jill: What wasn’t as good was Sapporo 1972. And it’s interesting that they’re bidding because bobsled track not, it’s closed and the track has been dismantled, lack of sliding sports culture. Biathlons been converted to a firing range. The skating rinks look like they’re well-used, which is good.
The villages now housing, of course. And then the downhill was gonna be a permanent venue, but there was a lot of local opposition to that. And so they’ve returned it to forest. So if Sapporo was chosen as a host city, there would need to be a significant amount of work and building, I think to pull together a viable winter gains were as if you had an either in Vancouver or Salt Lake, they could be ready to go.
Alison: Sort of like what LA is doing and trying to use as many facilities that already exist or can be very easily converted into facilities that that community needs.
One more city we should talk about is 1984. Sarajevo.
Alison: It was strange the way they presented it. I mean, they, it’s, it’s a unique situation, certainly among European cities, because where else, of recent cities, has there been a war that not only devastated the city tore apart the country and completely leveled and decimated the facilities and yet they presented this?
Oh yeah. They’re using lots of stuff. I was very confused by that and I read Sarajevo twice and I still didn’t understand how they could call an entirely rebuilt facility, an in use facility.
Jill: [00:50:00] Right. Because a lot of the venues. Destroyed or then they got restored back to their original use. So I think that’s what they were saying.
The Olympic hall was totally shelled during the war, completely rebuilt, but now there’s a ton of sports there and it’s been renamed for Juan Antonio Samaranch who really put a lot of effort into rebuilding that facility for them, which I thought was very interesting,
Alison: but it was leveled.
There is, probably a handful of stones that they rescued from the original building to put in this building and say, look, it’s one of the original stones and it’s probably marked as such. I don’t know that that is complete speculation. And yet to call that an in use original facility, though, they do indicate that it was rebuilt, but in their percentages, they’re still counting.
It feels so disengenuous.
Jill: Right because you have double the financial costs to build the facility. Yes. but on the other hand, if you had a space in the middle of a city, it would get rebuilt regardless. So that I think that is probably the costs of having more in a way.
Alison: Well, I almost want to say, I want to put Sarajevo in a box, but that’s not really fair because then I would also have to put London at a box and Paris in a box.
And all these other cities that after they hosted were gutted by wars, but Sarajevo feels different, I guess, because it wasn’t a war that affected a lot of European cities or Asian cities, or it was so localized and so immediate. I mean, it happened so soon after, and I’m glad that the country has been able to put that city back together.
And that city seems to be finding its feet again, an emerging. And yet the way it was presented in this report just feels like the stadiums were white elephants because you had a war and we need to accept that. And if they rebuilt it from the ground, that should just be listed as demolished, not in use, new building.
Jill: You know, I think the demolished not in use new building would be there. This is me speculating their definition of a demolished rebuilt, not used for sports versus a demolished rebuilt used for a sporting arena, which some of the Sarajevo can’t be used anymore. The ski jumps,
Alison: Ski jumps and sliding tracks.
And especially, we talked about it when we were in on the train to Zhangjiakou. How long of a life to ski jumping have when you’ve got a facility that is so unique, can’t be reused for anything. Is expensive to build. And are we allowing athletes from enough places in the world to participate?
Cause you’ve got this unique facility that you need to have.
Jill: That’s a very good question because his ski jumping is so Eurocentric and the Olympics are still so Eurocentric, especially the Winter Olympics. can we end on a happy note?
Alison: Okay. Lake Placid, everything’s getting used. Maybe as a prison, but it’s getting used.
Jill: When we were there, it was impressive to see how much of the facilities were in use and to be a viable facility doesn’t mean you have to have international events.
I mean, that was just a lot of kids hockey, but they were using it and they’ve been doing a good job of refurbishing everything and bringing things up to higher standards to maintain that international status for a lot of these
Alison: venues. I mean the one in Lake Placid to me is the best kind of reuse. And you saw it in Montreal.
And I think Vancouver, you mentioned when these facilities become integral to the fabric of these communities, That it’s not the Olympic stadium. It’s where, my daughter and my son go and play hockey every weekend and they get access to these facilities that they wouldn’t otherwise have. That’s the hope of Olympic cities that has been lost.
And yet it’s nice to see a lot of examples in those report of that happening.
Jill: So let’s hope that it can keep happening. As we look ahead to the future cities,
Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN.
Jill: It’s the time in the show where we check in with our past guests who make up our Team, Keep the Flame Alive in. There are citizens of TKFLASTAN and a programming note. We’re not doing an Albertville moment this week because we did a little bit of Albertville talk in the legacy report.
And we’ll just feast on that. But let’s look at her. What’s going on with our [00:55:00] team. Former USA weightlifting, chief executive Phil Andrews is a nominee for the IWF governance commission.
Alison: Chellsie Memmel has been selected as the technical lead at USA Gymnastics where the women’s high performance program.
Jill: This was very exciting because the high performance program leadership has consistently been an issue in USA. Gymnastics. I know you’re laughing at me, but that’s a nice way to phrase an issue.
Alison: And Chellsie Memmel had her dad as a coach who even with her out, her being his, her father was an amazing coach and knows how to coach. And she’s been a coach and obviously an Olympic gymnast. So I think this is an excellent, excellent move for USA. Gymnastics. I hope this isn’t one of these, do it for show. Hope she’s given some real teeth to bite into this.
Jill: Beach volleyball player, Kelly Claes, Cheng, and partner, Betsi Flint. won the AVP New Orleans opened this past weekend
Alison: And Josh Levin earned a master’s in learning design innovation and technology from Harvard University.
Jill: Got a lot of doping news this week. The IOC has done reallocations in biathlon from Sochi 2014. The women’s four by six kilometer relay Olga Zaitseva from Russia was disqualified.
Norway moves up to the silver medal and Czech Republic moves up to the bronze.
This also affected the mixed relay. So, Russia had gotten fourth place for that and they’ve been disqualified. So Slovakia moves up to fourth and that means that Austria will earn eighth place. They had not been in the diplomas before that.
Alison: I wonder if one of these days we’re going to be reaching so far back and reallocating to countries that no longer exist.
Jill: that’s a good question. Yeah, no,
Alison: it’s Czechoslovakia gonna all of a sudden have another.
Jill: Right. Because as the doping testing gets more and more sophisticated, they can go back and retest things, but maybe we can find out like, what is the criteria where they would go we’re we’re really still not sure about this one competition.
Let’s go back and retest it. And how far back do they go? I, I can’t. And I feel like we have the answer to that latter question, cause I’m not sure they’re still testing from Beijing anymore.
Alison: Right. There was a cutoff time. There was a number of years, but it just feels like, Ugh, can you, can you count on any results if Russia got it?
Jill: In Paralympic doping news, the International Cycling Union has announced that Polish para cyclist Marcin Polak has been sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years because he had the presence of a EPO in his system in three different samples collected on during 19 or during 2021.
So the results from his results from mid may 21 through the end of August had been disqualified. This includes the bronze medal he won in the men’s 4,000 meter individual pursuit at Tokyo. and he’s gotten a four year ban that will last through the end of August, 2025. This means that Alexandre Lavarus and his pilot Corentin Ermenault will be upgraded from fourth place to the bronze medal position in the track cycling event.
We also have a classification update. You remember when this happened? Cause when I looked back in our Tokyo sheet, and we had this big highlight that this had been contested Vinod Kumar, who is in para athletics, And was competing in the men’s discus F 52 class. He had originally won the bronze medal.
This was protested right away because people were saying he had too much movement ability. He was declared ineligible at the end of August, 2021, lost the bronze medal. This had been appealed and the Board of Appeal of Classification, which is also known as the BAC recently ruled that yes, the athlete was observed performing several movements and functions and competition, which were not consistent with his performance during the physical and technical aspects of classification.
So, Kumar has now been banned until August 20, 23 and his Tokyo results have been disqualified.
Alison: This isn’t funny, but the mental image. It’s like the guy who’s wearing the neck brace, pretending to have [01:00:00] whiplash from a car accident. And then you see him like dancing at the wedding. Somebody secretly filming him with his phone and saying, see, he doesn’t deserve his disability checks.
I know this is much more complicated than that, but
Jill: Yeah, I’m with you and it’s, frustrating. It’s gotta be so frustrating because classification is so difficult and we get frustrated with doping, but I bet classification and misclassification of athletes and athletes trying to buck the system is even more frustrating of a process.
Alison: Because as we saw with Brenna Huckaby in the Winter Paralympics, even when the athletes are trying to be honest and straightforward classification is complicated.
And then if you add in a layer of an athlete, who’s trying to cheat. That makes calcification even less accurate and, and more disruptive.
Jill: Moving on to our novella segment, we have a update in the modern pentathlon novella, the international modern pentathlon union U IPM has announced the first test of its new fifth discipline, which will be obstacle course. This will be going on at the end of June in the world cup final, following the world cup final in Ankara Turkey.
So they are going to have a obstacle course discipline competition that will involve two to four athletes racing each other over a course of up to 100 meters long with up to 10 obstacles. So this could include ascending steps, a rope swing, a 1.5 meter wall monkey bars, offset steps. Balance beam, angled, bladders, and then what they call a tsunami curved wall. But obviously if you are a fan of Ninja Warrior or a Sasuke, if you are in Japan, this is very much
a Ninja Warrior course.
Alison: I want fireworks. I want there to be a lava pit. I mean, if we’re going to go full Ninja Warrior, let’s go for reals. I mean, if we’re going to make this event a joke, let’s make it a joke.
Jill: Oh, that’s those are fighting words as ninja warrior people. Cause that’s, that’s tough stuff, but
Alison: ninja warrior is a television show, right?
It is incredibly physical, but it’s a spectacle. For entertainment and not that Olympic event shouldn’t be for entertainment, but I don’t know. This pentathlon just feels, this is not a replacement for a question. This is not addressing the same skills. This is just, let’s randomly throw some stuff that has worked on television before.
Let’s get the young people watching.
Jill: It does feel like they’re grabbing at straws, but also because what do you replace that with? And there’s next to nothing.
Alison: So out. Just take it out, make it modern
Alison: Yes. Make it modern for things and give it a, give it a modern name so that dumb people like me, don’t get confused and call it a day.
Jill: uh, News from Paris 2024. Hey, the inflation problems that are going around on around the world, going to be an issue with construction.
Alison: Mondu, I am surprised that I cannot
Jill: afford this anymore.
So raw materials and building and construction sector are costing more. So the organizing committee is going to have to pay more.
This is noted reported by Francsjeux.com. They did say that the Olympic village is on track and expected to be done by February, 2024. So that’s good news. The other element that inflation will perhaps put a monkey wrench into the works is in venue choices, because apparently so says Inside the Games report writing about articles that are in L’Equippe a French newspaper.
There’s talk that the shooting venue might be moved and the shooting venue is supposed to be in Seine-Saint-Denis. This area of Paris, it is supposed to be redeveloped and rejuvenated with the Olympics happening there. But the site that the shooting range is supposed to be on is currently a 13 hectare wasteland, which was previously a hydrocarbon storage facility for the armed forces.
So now it seems like I am putting two and two together saying, oh, there’s inflation. If you have to redevelop the site and dump a ton of money into redeveloping, this, wasteland site, and you’ve got [01:05:00] inflation going on, you might want to find a different venue for this. The, what they’re looking at now is a venue like 150 miles outside of Paris.
So it’s a little, a little further away and of course, Seine-Saint-Denis, not through super happy with this volleyball, badminton, swimming have already been moved away from the city, even though they’re still going to have athletics and rugby sevens in the area and a few other sports, but stuff keeps getting moved away from this area.
And it sounds like it’s because there’s too much infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt or even refurbished to make it worthwhile.
Alison: You know, Where things are cheap Tahiti.
Jill: I would imagine that would be even more expensive because you have to truck everything in,
Alison: but you know what? You can feed everybody on coconuts.
Jill: A little bit of news from Milan Cortina that we missed. And March when we were in the throws of Beijing, 2022, the Paralympics, the official song of Milano-Cortina was announced and is called a “Fino all’alba” Z, then, which means Until Dawn and we listened to some of it.
Alison: We can’t play it because we don’t have rights, but we will have your link.
Cause you’ve got to hear it.
Jill: I mean, to me, it was kind of a generic pop song.
Alison: It would not do well in Europe, vision 20, 26,
Jill: no, to generic. We’ll see. I, I will listen to it to see if there’s anything catchy about it that will stick in your head like the together for a shared future that Beijing 20, 22 magically it
Alison: and the snow song.
What was that? Snowflake? Oh, I
Jill: had snowflake snowflake. So that actually pumped into my head this week.
That’s the mark of a good bad song.
LA 20, 28 is closer to finalizing its sporting program. So says the IOC. They have announced. Program evaluation criteria to review each sports discipline and potential new sports for the games in 2028.
Alison: Yes. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal this week about how’s the sports that are competing to get those spots in LA 2028.
And they were talking about the cross cheerleading, one of your favor, that’s softball and baseball. And just one of the big things is the quota. How small can you make a team sport? So you can get as many countries using as few quota spots as possible. And that’s baseball. Softball’s biggest obstacle.
And same with lacrosse. Although they’re working on a small version of the game, same with cricket was also in their cheer. I was surprised at how big cheer teams
Alison: have to be. Right. Well, somebody’s got to hold up the bottom of the pyramid again, of a pyramid with three people
Jill: in the Olympics. You’re going to have to,
Alison: I know they were saying that they’re going to make it like six person teams.
I’m like, that is not a very exciting pyramid.
Jill: No, no,
Alison: but that’s part of the article though, was cheerleading apparently is in a fight with the gymnastics Federation and the dance sport Federation. But yeah, so the slots, the IOC has put this hard cap on quota. Don’t want the Olympics to have 15,000 athletes.
We want lots of countries to be able to participate in your sport, how you going to make that happen? And I think that almost goes back to what we were saying before about reviewing sports for do they need another facility? I think that’s going to factor into the equation. Cheerleading. You can use the same indoor venue as a million other sports.
Flag football. You can use all those soccer fields. I don’t know enough about cricket and lacrosse. I think you for,
Jill: she could use the same field as you use for rugby as the same field. This but not
Alison: cricket. I think cricket is more specific, isn’t it?
Jill: It depends on the dimensions. You might be able to take a big field and turn it into a cricket dimension size field.
I don’t know, but I would think that’s a little bit more portable than say, oh, Athens, you’re going to have baseball and softball now. I mean, Tokyo did something very interesting, which is they took a baseball field and then put in softball dimensions to use one field or the same similar fields for both sports, which I thought was really good.
But I mean, LA has the luxury of having something like a baseball field.
Alison: Right. They have baseball fields between the college fields and the professional fields. They can very easily get to a baseball field, but other countries, it won’t be so simple.[01:10:00]
Jill: It’ll be very interesting because yes, super tight athlete quota, but modern pentathlon is on the chopping block.
Weightlifting’s on the chopping block. Boxing is on the chopping block. Will this be the games where they say, you know what, forget it. We want to showcase a different sport because you don’t have very many opportunities anymore to add in new sports. So we also don’t want to deal with the headaches your sport provides.
So We’ll see, but it’s awful. Yeah. So, Final program decisions are next year, but we know that stuff is being lobbied. And we know that the World Games are coming up and a lot of sports who are, that are in the World Games want to be in the Olympic games. So I bet there’s some lobbying going on there.
Alison: Just throw me up in the air. I’ll flip around.
Jill: That is going to do it for this week. Let us know your thoughts on Olympic legacy when it comes to venues still being in use. And if there’s venues still in use in your town, we want to hear about it and hear if you use any of those venues,
Alison: You can get in touch with us through firstname.lastname@example.org. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it, our social handle is at flame alive pod, and be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.
Jill: Next week, we will have back our friend, Steve Emt to tell us all about his experiences at the Beijing 2022 Paralympics. thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.