by Wayne Hickson
CANBERRA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The man who lit the cauldron at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games as a 19 year old running prodigy said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should amend its charter and award Games to countries, not cities.
Australian middle to long distance running legend Ron Clarke said the costs of staging an Olympic Games have become so burdensome that social unrest is almost inevitable where the costs of infrastructure and ceremonies are too great for a single city." There is not a municipality in the world that can afford to pay for the infrastructure necessary for the staging of an Olympics and the huge cost associated with the actual staging of a Games," the dual Olympian and 19-time world record holder said at his home on Queensland's Gold Coast earlier this week.
"The trouble is that a lot of these excessive costs are more to do with pomp and ceremony than the sporting competitions themselves."
"In 1956 in Melbourne, the Opening Ceremony cost organizers well under 1,000 U.S. dollars, while last year at London the cost escalated to 200 million U.S. Dollars."
"In Rio in 2016, sixty years after Melbourne's Games, the costs of the Opening Ceremony will be the single most expensive item in the Organizing Committee's budget," he said.
Clarke said the IOC should restrict entrant numbers in Olympic sports events from each competing nation to one.
He said the International Olympic Committee needs to decide whether the Games are an athletics completion or a showcase and amend its charter accordingly.
He is also keen on new sports being introduced into future Games, but has called for restrictions on the numbers of athletes from the same country in each event.
"I have no problems with expansion of the number of different sports in an Olympics it should be a celebration of sports from throughout the world incorporating as many cultures, peoples, races and countries as possible - within the reach of all social classes," he said. "But rather than have three sprinters from the USA in the track and field 100m, or three distance runners from Kenya in the 5,000m and 10,000m, or even three swimmers from Australia in the 100m backstroke, it would be fairer if only one from each country could enter." "This would mean medals would be shared among more competing nations, it would streamline the numbers of events with fewer heats and semi-finals and reduce the demand on the organizers to continually increase the field sizes. There would also be fewer team tactics predetermining results."
Clarke said the IOC needs to take some significant actions to ensure the Olympic movement continues to grow and welcome new sports into its programs while ensuring all countries compete on an equal footing.
"The numbers of participants should not become so cumbersome as to make the costs of staging a Games beyond the economies of more than a few very rich nations," he said.
Clarke's recommendations to the IOC include capping the expenditure by any country on the Opening Ceremony to 100 million U.S. dollars, limiting entries in any event from any country to one, continuing to increase the numbers of participant sports, but reducing the number of events in any particular sport.