The dire economics of the Olympics

The Olympics haven't made financial sense in decades. Host cities spend billions preparing for the games, inevitably suffering massive cost overruns and going deep into debt, with a lasting legacy of little more than a group of buildings ill-suited to any other use.

Why it matters: This year, the games' physical location is more of a liability and less of an asset than ever. The Tokyo competition risks spreading COVID-19 in a country with a very low vaccination rate, while bringing no glory (or tourists) to a city that has banned spectators from all events.

The big picture: Pandemic aside, Olympic ideals — amateurism, fair play, noble competition — have failed to stand the test of time and countless corruption scandals.

What remains is an increasingly lopsided spectacle, the medal table dominated by whichever countries happen to be willing to shell out for state-of-the-art training and youth development facilities.