China is hosting the next winter Olympic Games because nobody else wanted to

Yes, this is an odd time to be talking about the Olympic Games, since we’re sort of in the middle of a cycle. But it’s worth pointing out that the 2022 Winter Olympics are out there on the horizon and they’re going to be in Beijing. (Technically in a bunch of places across China, but that’s the center.) It’s something I look forward to because I really enjoy watching the curling. But wait, you might be thinking. Didn’t China just host the games pretty recently? Yes, they did. They hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008 and put on one heck of a show.

So how did they get back in the rotation again so quickly? That’s a funny story. If we dig back in history to 2015 when the bidding was being considered, there were a number of countries initially putting in bids, but nearly all of the finalists took themselves out of the competition. This archived article from Deadspin has all of the details.

The next Olympics to be awarded, a little more than a year from now, will be the 2022 Winter Games. Rather than going to the strongest bid, the games may end up going to the last city standing—a long list of potential hosts have given up on their Olympic dreams because the whole thing is one huge, useless waste of money.

Yesterday, Krakow, Poland, officially withdrew its bid for the games, a day after a citywide referendum where 70 percent of voters came out against hosting the Olympics. “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,” said mayor Jacek Majchrowski.

In January, another of the six original finalists pulled out, when Stockholm, Sweden’s ruling political party declined to fund the games. They cited the pointlessness of paying hundreds of millions for facilities that would be used for two weeks and then rarely again, a story common to almost all Olympic hosts.

This is rather remarkable. The International Olympic Committee likes to spread the honors around, but when the bidding was going on for these upcoming winter games, they were barely able to find anyone to take on the job. Krakow, Poland had a strong bid, but they held a public referendum and nearly three-quarters of the people hated the idea. Stockholm dropped out next, refusing to bear the costs.

But it didn’t stop there. Munich, German had put in a bid, but even when it looked like they were a solid contender, they had to put it to a vote where it was also rejected. Officials there cited “the greed for profit of the IOC.” A joint bid from Davos/St. Moritz, Switzerland similarly had to be put to a public referendum and was rejected as well. The same thing happened in Oslo. In fact, when it came down to the original finalists, the only three that were willing to offer their services were Lviv, Ukraine (rejected because there was sort of a war going on and all), Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing.

Kazakhstan didn’t look financially suitable for such a project, so in the end, it was China because they were the only ones able to flush that much money into a project that is far more propaganda and far less profit potential. This brings me back to a suggestion I’ve made in the past. Why do we keep rotating these games around and sticking cities and countries with massive complexes that generally have little useful purpose other than hosting the games?

Take them back to Greece and leave them there. Set up permanent stadiums for the games themselves and practice facilities that all the other countries can pay to use. Greece could use the money and it would be easier to secure one set of facilities against possible attacks than a collection of centers across the globe.