James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, is calling for Athens, Greece, to be the permanent home for the summer Olympics.
The retired Navy admiral made his comments in a column published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Stavridis also suggested moving the winter Olympics to St. Moritz, Switzerland, on a permanent basis.
“The athletes embody a fine quality of 'olympism' as they strive to live up to the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect,” he said. “The Olympic website is full of messages about how the games bring nations together in fair and open athletic competition.
“But the games have all too often become overt displays of odious propaganda (the 1936 games were put on by the Nazi regime in Berlin) or the setting for fierce geopolitical arguments, such as when the U.S. and other Western nations boycotted the 1980 games after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
“China, Russia, the U.S. and other major powers with the financial ability to support the games fight hard to host them. The supposed financial benefits seldom seem to materialize. But it’s also an opportunity to show soft power to allies, partners, friends and send a message to opponents. Winning the venue often feeds virulent nationalism that runs counter to Olympic ideals. The frequent corruption associated with the selection process doesn’t help.”
He noted a solution would be to build a pair of Olympic facilities – one for the summer games and the other for the winter games –that could be used on a permanent basis.
“The expense for the construction and subsequent maintenance of the global facility could be shared among participating nations as a percentage of their economy with respect to global gross domestic product. The U.S. would fund 15%, Europe 15%, China 15%, India 7%, Japan 4%, Russia 3%. The smallest nations would receive a very small bill,” Stavridis said.
He maintained the “obvious choice” for the summer games would be in Athens, Greece.
“After all, the Greeks invented the games,” he said. “Greece is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a close friend of the U.S., but the Greeks also have relatively good relationships with Russia and China.”
Stavridis added that St. Moritz should be considered for the winter because it is “a recognized center of internal skiing.
Stavridis also pointed out “Switzerland is known for its political neutrality and has a reputation as a reliable, sensible international actor”
And he said a fixed location for both the summer and winter Olympics would eliminate some of the nationalism that takes away “from the true purpose of the games.”
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