Like millions of other people across the world, I watched the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, and I can say that it was quite a spectacle. While it certainly was an amazing show, the likes of which I have never seen before from an opening ceremony, the price tag for this show made me choke. When the announcer said that China had spent $300 million on just this one show I was shocked. I knew they had spent $40 billion on the whole Olympics, but most of that went to infrastructure improvements and pollution cleanup. $300 million for a show just seems ridiculous.
To me, this just proves the point that China is trying to use these games to show the world that they are now a power to be reckoned with. What better way to do that than throw down $40 billion for the Olympics and $300 million for the opening show, both of which are unprecedented numbers.
The problem with this is that the world already knows China is now a powerhouse. We all know about the growth in their economy, and pretty much every country in the world wants a piece of China right now. They don’t need to prove a point that has already been made. While in one sense the employment created by all this spending is a good thing for China, one can’t help but feel the money could have been put to better use. China still has a lot of poverty in their country as well as many other areas of need, which could have greatly used some of these funds set aside for the Olympics. I don’t think there is any chance of China seeing a return on the money they have spent in the form of increased tourism (or anything else for that matter) after the Games, so really, most of this money will have been wasted on what the country considers a big party for themselves.
The Olympics is a great event with loads of history and tradition, but when countries start using it to make statements or impress the world (and to be fair, China is not the first, nor will they be the last to use the Olympics in this way) it is just a shame. Countries shouldn’t neglect the good of their people for the sake of a game. The Olympics bring in a large sum of money and countries should be smart and spend only on the Olympics what they can expect to see in return, anything beyond that is just a waste.