Krakow withdraws 2022 Olympic bid after residents vote ‘no’


(Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2022 Winter Olympics will not be in Krakow, Poland. The city — largely regarded as the favorite after Stockholm, Sweden, opted out in January – withdrew its bid after a majority of city residents voted against bringing the games to town. Nearly 70 percent of those who voted a referendum on Sunday said no to the Games, reports the Associated Press.

At least one person was disappointed by the outcome, however — Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski. He said in a statement via AP:

“Krakow is closing its efforts to be the host of the 2022 Winter Games due to the low support for the idea among the residents. … I regret that the referendum has put a definite end to … the project that I considered to be very important for the development of the whole region.”

The Polish city’s decision to end the bid also dashes the dreams of the country’s neighbor, Slovakia, which was slated to also host some of the events, as well.

It seems likely one of the big reasons for the voters’ objections was the idea of corruption, an issue that already reared its head in the Eastern European town. The AP writes:

“The candidacy was rocked in April when bid leader Jagna Marczulajtis-Walczak resigned following allegations her husband offered money to journalists in return for favorable stories.

Majchrowski said that under the leadership of Marczulajtis-Walczak the previous bid team had ‘squandered’ the popular trust and backing for the project, while the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk did not show sufficient enthusiasm.”

No doubt, recent experiences of widespread allegations of corruption in both Sochi, Russia, which hosted this year’s Winter Olympics, and Rio de Janeiro, which is slated to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, may have also weighed heavy on voters’ minds as they went to the polls.

This means there are just four remaining cities in the running for the 2022 games: Oslo, Norway; Lviv, Ukraine; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Beijing. But some of those cities, too, are facing their own problems. Lviv’s problem is obvious. Lviv is located in Ukraine, which is currently in political turmoil. Oslo’s bid is also not without issue. A large number of that city’s residents have voiced their opposition, including one of the two political parties that make up the country’s coalition government. The problem is money, said Atle Simonsen, the head of the dissenting party’s youth wing, via Norway’s The Local last month:

“Believing that the Oslo Olympics would cost under 50 billion kroner ($8.4 billion) is like believing in Santa Claus, when the Sochi Olympics cost 500 billion [kroner or $84 billion, an exaggeration -- Sochi's costs hovered around $50 billion].

Many analysts agree that hosting the Olympics does not often pay off from a cost-benefit standpoint. NPR concluded earlier this year that, “It’s just a terrible investment.” The reason, says experts, is many-fold, but starts with the bidding process itself. NPR writes:

“The International Olympic Committee pits one city against another. In each city, construction and architecture firms that stand to profit from the games push local leaders to make higher bids and more ambitious plans.”You have cities putting out their enormously complicated and elaborate plan to do everything and more than the IOC ever asked for,” says Andy Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. “And so the cards are stacked against any host city.”

Good luck, Almaty!

 

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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