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5 Worst Summer Olympic Host Cities of All-Time


When it is all said and done, Rio de Janeiro may be considered the worst host ever of the Summer Olympics. Between Zika, political strife, crime, recession, and plumbing and electricity issues in the Olympic Village, the world is watching and asking, “What’s next?”

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Many major universities now have urban planning courses on the Olympic games, so it may be years before the academics determine if Rio is truly the worst. The public will decide much sooner and from my populist perspective, here are the five cities that Rio is in company with.

5. Rome 1908

If one of your party tricks is to recite Summer Olympics hosts, you may be saying, “Hey, wait a minute. The 1908 games were held in London.” And you would be right. The Olympics were originally scheduled for Rome, but a devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 1906 prompted the Italian government to ask another city to take the games so it could focus on rebuilding Naples. London was selected and stepped up to save the day. Rome is one example of a city fully acknowledging its limitations in hosting the Olympics.

4. Seoul 1988

Many arguments could be made for the fourth city on the list, but I’m going with Seoul for what it did to boxing. In the gold medal match, light-middleweight Roy Jones Jr., outpunched South Korean Park Si-Hun 86-32, but Si-Hun was awarded the gold. The three judges, who awarded Si-Hun were banned for six months and two were later banned for life. Olympic boxing has never been at the forefront of public interest since. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only "fowl" moment of those Olympics either.

3. Beijing 2008

The 2008 Summer Olympics went very well, but when you have to shut down your factories so the athletes can breathe, you probably shouldn’t be hosting the games in the first place. Oh, and free Tibet.

2. Berlin 1936

By the time the games were held in Berlin, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had already sent his troops into the Rhineland area of western Germany, which the Treaty of Versailles forbid him from doing. In addition, he was already ordering the persecution of the German Jewish population and espousing his doctrine of Aryan racial supremacy. It is easy to sit back today and wonder why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the rest of the world did not give him the middle finger and stay home. Fortunately, Jesse Owens did the next best thing and won four gold medals.

1. Munich 1972

Munich will probably remain number one on this list for the infamous massacre of Israeli athletes and coaches by Palestinian terrorists. The tragedy prompted the IOC to require host cities and governments to significantly improve their security at the games (For example, London deployed 40,000 security personnel and a wide range of military hardware for the 2012 Summer Games.). The fact that Germany was hosting the Olympics for the first time since World War II and that German Neo-Nazis provided assistance to the terrorists gives the attack an even blacker mark on the city of Munich.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)