Five years ago, Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the first South American city to host the Olympics. Fast forward to 2016 and the preparations for the Games have been dubbed as “one of the worst ever.” The hosts were not prepared in many, many ways. The quandary was that there was no “plan B” so the Olympics had to happen there no matter what. There was no walking away from this. Athletes have taken to social media to express their disappointment with the conditions in the city, revealing the gustly scenes in their hotel rooms. A body was literally found floating in the rivers prior to the opening ceremony. In that respect, perhaps looking back at some of the best Olympic conditions ever can give us a glimpse of where Brazil went wrong.
Here are the top five Olympic village conditions ever.
5. Beijing, China – 2008
In 2008, China was the center of attention from across the world. The nation was hosting one of the biggest events in the globe: The Olympics. Needless to say, Beijing did not disappoint. The 2008 Olympics raised the bar for all Olympic Games henceforth. During this time, a staggering 130 plus Olympic records were broken. The Beijing National Stadium was decorated with steel beams and had a woven appearance, leading to the notorious moniker “The Bird’s Nest.”
The venue, which could accommodate up to 80,000 people, presided over the opening & closing ceremonies, the football final, and athletics. Another enthralling arena was the Beijing National Aquatics Center, which was affectionately named “The Water Cube”. The design of its external walls looked like synchronized soap bubbles. It is here that American swimming phenomenal, Michael Phelps, won a record 8 gold medals – the highest number of medals anyone has ever won in one Olympics event.
4. London, Britain – 2012
A few years after Beijing had showcased their prowess in hosting a world-class sports event like the Olympics, London was given the chance to show the world what they could. Playing second fiddle was not an option. The result: the 2012 Olympics proved to be the most successful in British sport as far as modern history is concerned. As soon as the closing ceremony signaled the end of the Games, the hosts received overwhelming positive reviews from the media around the world. In fact, even though the 2000 Olympics held in Sidney are often regarded as the best ever in terms of preparations, some members of the Australian press admitted that London may have raised the bar slightly.
The 2012 Games made the city the first and only to host the Olympics three times (including the 1948 and 1908 Olympics). Athletes from around the world were treated to a blend of established facilities, temporary venues, and historic sites. On the other hand, events such as the marathon, beach volleyball, and the triathlon were held in the tourist- friendly Horse Guards Parade, Hyde Park, and the Mall. The London Velodrome and Olympic Stadium also featured several memorable moments, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London (which is about 200 hectares) is easily one of the most inspiring venues ever constructed for the Olympics.
3. Barcelona, 1992
It is very hard not to include Barcelona among the five finest Olympic villages ever. Everything went beautifully in Barcelona, starting with the opening ceremony where the Olympic cauldron was lit with a flaming arrow. The Catalan city , which featured diverse food, spectacular architecture, seaside setting, and warm spirit, also managed to accommodate several Olympic firsts – For the first time since 1964, Germany sent a united team, while South Africa (which had just come out of apartheid rule) made their first debut in the event. Fu Mingxia, a Chinese diver, won gold in platform diving to become the youngest gold medalist ever in the Summer Games. What’s more, the United States Dream Team made the world stop by making the Olympic basketball entrance a great spectacle.
The 1992 Olympics gave Barcelona a chance to display its fun and beauty, attracting tourists from across the world instantly. Beyond the competition, the Games established a foundation for sports in Barcelona that is still living today. Holding significant sports competitions has become a major part of the country’s development. In fact, mayor Xavier Trias was once stated that sports is the best way to put the city on the international stage, improve its condition, and inject life into it.
2. Los Angeles, 1984
The 1984 Olympics were riddled with tension as the Soviet Union tallied twelve other nations to skip the Los Angeles Games as a way of retaliating against the U.S boycott in 1980. However, although the Eastern Bloc teams were absent during the two-week event, the Games were not affected. In fact, L.A is still the only Olympics that has ever turned a profit, accumulating an impressive $200 million revenue. L.A. utilized existing infrastructure due to budget overruns in Montreal and Moscow.
This included the L.A Memorial Coliseum, the main venue for the 1932 Olympics that still hosts USC football. Americans were treated to a 4-gold medal performance by Carl Lewis (long jump, 4 by 100 relay, 200m, and 100m) while Mary Lou Retton won the all-around gymnastics title to become the first gymnast without an Eastern Bloc origin to achieve this reward. Apart from these achievements, the 1984 Olympics also saw the first women’s marathon where Joan Benoit won. In addition, Los Angeles gave the world a glimpse of what the Dream Team in basketball would resemble when Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, and Michael Jordan united to win gold.
1. Sydney, 2000
Widely recognized as the most successful Olympic villages in the history of the games, Sidney featured virtually no controversies and several Olympic and world records were set. In fact, the Games were so successful that Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was the IOC president then, declared the Sydney 2000 Olympics the “best ever” and the phrase was retired. The Games saw 34 world records being set. The first world record was established by Australian phenomenal Ian Thorpe, who won the 400m freestyle. On that same day, the U.S put up a tough battle against Australia in the 4 by 100m freestyle relay, but the Aussies beat the Americans by 2/10 of a second to set another world record. Furthermore, Michael Phelps, who was fifteen then, made his debut in the Olympics to become the youngest swimmer to be included in the U.S. Olympic team since 1934.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker