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The Olympics: The Biggest Corporatist Sports Scam of All

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Tags Corporate WelfareMoney and BanksU.S. Economy


 The 2022 Olympics (i.e., the Winter Games) is now down to only two applicant nations: China and Kazakhstan. This follows the withdrawal of Norway after the taxpayers of Norway balked on ponying up the cash necessary to make the Olympics a playground for the world’s richest cronies and politicians.

Theoretically, the Olympics are a private organization, but in practice, it is a corporatist organization run by plutocrats whose mission in life is apparently to squeeze as much tax revenue as possible out of the residents of the countries and cities that host the Olympics. This is done by demanding the usual brand-spanking new stadiums and facilities from the host cities that later become white elephants. But the IOC also demands countless perks for itself, such as only the finest food and drink, and special driving lanes on streets and highways. (See photos of the abandoned Olympics facilities in Athens.)

Faced with a bevy of such demands  in a 7,000-page dossier from the IOC, Norway chose to withdrawal. The “diva-like demands for luxury treatment” for the IOC were outlined by the Norwegian media, including:

  • They demand to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony. Afterwards, there shall be a cocktail reception.
  • Drinks shall be paid for by the Royal Palace or the local organizing committee.
  • Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
  • A welcome greeting from the local Olympic boss and the hotel manager should be presented in IOC members’ rooms, along with fruit and cakes of the season. (Seasonal fruit in Oslo in February is a challenge…)
  • The hotel bar at their hotel should extend its hours “extra late” and the minibars must stock Coke products.
  • The IOC president shall be welcomed ceremoniously on the runway when he arrives.
  • The IOC members should have separate entrances and exits to and from the airport.
  • During the opening and closing ceremonies a fully stocked bar shall be available. During competition days, wine and beer will do at the stadium lounge.
  • IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
  • Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
  • The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics.
  • All furniture should be OL-shaped and have Olympic Appearance.

If this were all privately financed, there’s no reason to complain, but the IOC can hardly be described as “private sector.” The Norwegian controversy highlights that fact that, according to The National Post, “the International Olympic Committee is a notoriously ridiculous organization run by grifters and hereditary aristocrats [read: the descendants of highly successful thieves and murderers of old].”

Not surprisingly, Kazakhstan and China, those great bastions of thriving free markets, continue to compete for the chance to host the 2022 games. This, of course, only lends more credence to the assertion that the Games have become an enormous exercise in international prestige and fantasies about the Keynesian multiplier in which the central planners assume that it is much better to force the people to pay for another luge track rather than just allowing them to waste their money on food, clothing, or education.

Part of the reason that Norway has pulled out is that its government is at least somewhat answerable to the taxpayers while the governments of Kazakhstan and China are not. Norway’s withdrawal follows previous withdrawals from Sweden, Poland, and Ukraine. (Sweden now says is would have stayed in if the IOC were less bureaucratic.)

The controversy, and the fact that available host cities for the IOC continue to dwindle, has forced the IOC to say that it will “review” the way it demands perks from host cities, although it’s highly unlikely that anything the IOC does will put much of a dent in the huge bill that the IOC and its pals in government send to the taxpayers every few years. Denver, Colorado, where the voters refused to approve tax dollars for Olympics facilities, remains the only city to have ever rejected the IOC after it had already been chosen as the host city. Some other cities now appear to be catching on earlier in the process.


Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy and international relations from the University of Colorado. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.