London 2012 has just drawn to a spectacular close. With Rio de Janeiro promising much the same for 2016, bids for 2020 have been coming in strong and fast. Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid are the current front-runners, but some new candidates have been thrown into the mix:
The Capitol (The Hunger Games)
If there is one city that can boast any experience in holding a major sporting event, it has to be the Capitol. With the help of the Gamesmakers’ technology, creating suitable and attractive venues should be no problem at all. The most recent Hunger Games took place in a controlled forest environment, but previous Games have taken place in a range of arenas covering both natural and technological challenges. The transport network is good enough for crowds to get around quickly and the city has its own unique identity for post-Games party-goers. The only real pitfall is that not all athletes might survive their respective Olympic events, but that should not stop them from bringing pride and honour to their countries. The Capitol – or, more specifically, the nation of Panem – has its fair share of medal hopes too which should give local viewers something to cheer about. Katniss Everdeen should get Gold in women’s archery and Peeta Mellark is a shoe-in for men’s wrestling. Other athletes like Marvel (javelin), Cato (fencing) and Rue (gymnastics) also have potential for Gold and are practically guaranteed podium finishes, especially with a team coach like Haymitch Abernathy. Cinna has promised a spectacular Opening Ceremony, with Caesar Flickerman and Effie Trinket rumoured to be in charge of commentary. If all else fails and the bid is rejected, there is still the annual Hunger Games to keep the locals satisfied.
Minas Tirith (The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King)
A bid from Middle Earth, Minas Tirith can help bring the old-school aesthetic back to the Olympics. Boasting wide tracts of land on the outskirts of the city that are perfect for constructing new venues, Minas Tirith would provide arguably the most scenic background for the Games. Athletes can choose to stay in existing accommodations instead of the Olympic Village – and, with such beautiful white marble facades, it would be folly indeed to turn that offer down. As for spectacle, what better way to light the Olympic cauldron than with Sauron’s Eye? For visiting audiences, a trip around the Citadel should not be missed, especially the Houses of the Dead and the White Tree. Medal hopes will vary, depending on whether the nations of Middle Earth decide to march under one banner a la Team Great Britain, or participate divided. Assuming that peace and unity will prevail if the bid is accepted, home-grown Aragorn and Boromir could potentially clinch the Gold and Silver double in men’s fencing. Legolas is the strongest contender in men’s archery and Gimli should medal in a range of events (shot put, weight-lifting and wrestling). Along with Arwen, the riders of Rohan are the undoubted favourites in the equestrian events. As for the men’s marathon, the hobbits could very well sweep all the medals. Participating orcs and trolls might be a slight security threat, but nothing that the organisers cannot handle. On top of all of that, there is the added bonus that Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and even Saruman have promised to do commentary for the Games. What a bid!
Gotham (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises)
The USA has not hosted the Olympics since Atlanta 1996, but Gotham’s bid could change that. While the city itself is quite similar to other, slightly less fictional locations, Gotham does have two massive advantages over its competitors – one is its thrilling atmosphere, the other is its security. After all, who in their right mind would want to try and disrupt an event being protected by the Dark Knight? Unlike the other bids mentioned here, Gotham already has access to existing venues for Olympic events. Its football stadium is a perfect spot to host athletics (after a few minor renovations). Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne has already assured the use of Wayne Manor and its grounds for a variety of events. As for local medal hopes, Bane is a threatening presence in the wrestling draw, while James Gordon, Harvey Dent and the Joker should bring home medals in shooting, Selina Kyle in gymnastics, and Ra’s al Ghul in judo (Nevermind that most of them are hardened criminals and possibly represent the greatest security threats to the Games!). Additionally, if Batman decides to participate as well as provide security, expect Gotham’s contribution to the US medal tally to, at the very least, double.
Cloud City (Star Wars Episode V: the Empire Strikes Back)
A first for the Olympics, Cloud City’s bid would see the Games being contested, quite literally, in the sky. While the technology available means that the sporting venues will definitely be spectacular, Cloud City’s strongest asset is its access to droids. They pledge to provide the most efficient volunteer system in the history of the Olympics. The only downside is the possibility of a hostile takeover by the Empire. However, organisers assure us that the Rebel Alliance has promised to provide additional security and there are strong rumours that Yoda will be acting as a security consultant. Shooter Lando Calrission is the only local athlete, but Luke Skywalker (fencing), Han Solo (shooting), Leia Organa (cycling) and Chewbacca (weight-lifting) will all be marching under the same banner. A successful bid for Cloud City would also provide some extra drama in the men’s fencing event, with the possibility of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker having a rematch in the final. However, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a definite commentator after his application to participate in fencing in an ethereal form was rejected by the International Olympic Committee.
Zion (The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions)
The complete antithesis of Cloud City’s bid, Zion promises to make the Olympics earthier and more rooted in reality. While Zion’s budget has been criticised due to its austerity measures, no one can deny the fact that its athletes truly represent the hard-working spirit of the Games. Neo is its star representative – and is a favourite to be the face of the Games – but he might need to limit himself to a handful of events in order to maximise his chances at Gold. Trinity is one of the picks for gymnastics. Morpheus has said he will participate too, but it is unclear whether he will take part in fencing or shooting. If Zion does win its bid, fans will not only remember the 1948 London austerity Games, but it should also bring to mind the 1980-1984 USA-USSR rivalry, with the Machines guaranteeing to put up a strong fight for top spot in the medal tally. Agent Smith has entered himself as an Independent Athelet after boycotting the Machines team, but is still the favourite to win the men’s team gymnastics. With a full two and a half weeks of nail-biting events, it would definitely be a treat to see who gets bragging rights at the end!
All five bids have great things going for them. The glaring differences between them make the final decision even harder. In the end, only one city can come out on top, but the real winners will be the fans and the Olympic movement.