Guest Post: The Olympics: Death by suicide

Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park, Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah. Ken Lund/Creative Commons/Flickr

British historian Arnold Toynbee’s observation about civilizations – “An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide” – applies also to the Olympic games.

The Olympics as an international event is dying by its own hand.

That Denver is no longer in contention to host the 2030 Winter Olympics comes as a relief. The bid was a bad idea from the start.

The International Olympic Committee should have seen it coming. Faced with a history of staggering costs and abandoned venues, 10 possible host areas have rejected the games in the last few years. Like Easter Island, the monuments they build to themselves simply became unsustainable.

But it is not only costs. The tone-deaf International Olympic Committee members have in the past demanded five-star hotels, special traffic lanes reserved for them and a host of other amenities. Four years ago, Norway withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Games after IOC members insisted the King and Queen of Norway host a reception for them, which for Oslo was a final straw.

In 1972, Colorado voters famously rejected the IOC’s first effort to bring the 1976 Winter Olympics here.

Coloradans took that unprecedented step for two reasons: they worried about the environmental impact and the financial risk — the open-ended monetary commitment that would have left taxpayers on the hook. Those issues have not changed in a half century.  

Colorado has its own race to run. Moving forward as a state requires us to address countless issues here, ranging from water scarcity to housing to growth we have not managed. We must keep our eye on the prize that is ours to protect — our people and our beautiful resources.

The great challenge of public policy is to know how the world is changing. In the new world of global warming and ever-more-limited taxpayer funds, the Olympics is a good idea whose time has come and gone.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact or visit our submission page

Richard Lamm served three terms as Colorado Governor from 1975-1987.


  1. Governor Lamm has always spoken out on issues he strongly supported. I believe he tried to present the best options for Colorado and our society. Many issues were very controversial. I always appreciated his voice and leadership, especially those involving finance and social issues. Governor, keep it up!

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