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Troubled Production / Sports

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     Multiple Sports 
  • The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has caused many sporting events to be postponed, cancelled, held without spectators, or moved to another country altogether, including tournaments, Olympic qualifying events, and races. This has even put a big question mark on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, due to Japan's proximity to China, where the disease originated, and how contagious the coronavirus is (as of 24 March 2020 the IOC and Prime Minister Abe have agreed to postpone the games to 2021, with the caveat that if it isn't hosted then it will be canceled entirely).
    • Even entire seasons have been affected by the pandemic: the NBA suspended its season after two members of the Utah Jazz tested positive, and the NHL quickly followed suit due to many teams sharing an arena with NBA teams. Opening Day for MLB was also been delayed, and March Madness (i.e., the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament) was canceled.
    • Outside of North America, the seasons of the main European football leagues (the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, and La Liga), Australian Football League, National Rugby League, Six Nations, and the Indian Premier League were suspended, and Wimbledon was canceled entirely, among far too many other competitions to list here. Only two domestic football leagues on Earth continued on without postponement or cancellation, in Belarus and Nicaragua.
    • And when sports competitions have come back, as demonstrated in Taiwan's baseball league, South Korea's baseball and soccer leagues, and the German Bundesliga, spectators are not allowed, at least in the initial stages of reopening. The major sports leagues in the United States also explored playing games in a limited number of venues (2-4 "hub cities" for teams, as opposed to 30-32 individual stadiums or arenas) to enhance safety procedures.
      • The NBA would end up hosting their playoffs at Walt Disney World, and the NHL opted for two bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto for theirs (with The Stanley Cup Final being hosted in Edmonton). The WNBA played an abbreviated season, including playoffs, in a bubble in Bradenton, Florida (not far from the Tampa Bay area). MLB and the main European football leagues chose not to use a bubble for a truncated regular season, and the former has consequently had to deal with multiple instances of postponed games due to positive tests; MLB did decide on a bubble for their playoffs, based in four sites in Texas and California. The UEFA Champions League did use a bubble format for their knockout stages, with all teams being moved to Lisbon after the Round of 16. UEFA did the same for its Europa League and Women's Champions League, with the Europa League being moved to several venues in Germany in the middle of the round of 16 and the WCL being moved to the Spanish Basque Country after its round of 16.

    Auto Racing 
  • Though the history of Formula One includes some truly iconic races, it also includes some incredibly troubled ones.
    • The revival of the United States Grand Prix was briefly endangered by a contract dispute between Bernie Ecclestone and the backers of Circuit of the Americas, a purpose-built road course in Austin, Texas, which nearly led to the abandonment of the track. However, the parties were able to come to terms, and the race ultimately went off on schedule at the end of the 2012 season. The same can't be said of F1's planned US street race, the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey, which slipped into Development Hell amidst vicious contract disputes after missing the schedule for three straight years due to lack of funds for construction.
    • One of the biggest race day debacles in Formula One's history happened at the 2005 United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis. During practice, multiple cars running on Michelin tires suffered failures on Turn 13 (a banked oval corner; the only one on the entire Formula 1 calendar). Michelin realised that their tires were unsafe for this circuit, and could fail after as few as 10 laps. Not helping matters was a new-for-2005 rule preventing cars from changing tires during the race. Last-minute negotiations with FIA to add a chicane or otherwise slow down the cars going into that turn went nowhere; so after taking part in the parade lap, fourteen of the 20 drivers returned to the pits on orders from their teams and didn't race (despite some pleading to be allowed to start). The other six drivers (who were using Bridgestone tires instead, and benefitted from the fact that Bridgestone's Firestone subsidiary was the tire supplier of the Indy Car oval racing series) quickly realized that all they had to do was avoid crashing and finish the race, and they would get standings points by default. So the race became a high-speed parade, with none of the drivers seriously challenging each other; this only enraged the crowd, some of whom even threw trash on the track. Spectators were further angered when their requests for a refund were refused; thousands of them left the race early, and those who remained loudly booed the top three finishers on the podium. The teams later pointed out that under Indiana state law, they could have faced criminal charges for reckless endangerment had they forced their drivers to take part — and that was if no one had gotten hurt. If someone had.... (It's also believed that law was why a potential lawsuit by the FIA was avoided: if they had forced the drivers to race, they'd be the one facing charges). This race not only killed Indianapolis as the location of the United States Grand Prix, but also the presence of multiple competing tire manufacturers that teams could choose from, as well as the 'no tire changes' rule altogether.
    • The 2015 German Grand Prix. Normally, the race is alternated between two venues, the Nürburgring and Hockenheim, with the Nürburgring scheduled to host in 2015, but the Nürburgring had for many years now suffered financial difficulties when hosting this race, and after failing to reach a new agreement with Ecclestone, dropped itself from the calendar. Hockenheim then bowed out, saying that the last-minute dropping left them no time to promote the race, leaving Formula One without the German Grand Prix for the first time in over 50 years. Especially sad because three of the drivers were German, and the defending constructor's champion Mercedes was German (and tried to save the German GP using their own money).
    • The Indian Grand Prix was troubled from the start: yet another country with a lack of motorsport culture (at the time the race was first proposed there were only two raceways), and after elections changed the government policy, neither track was interested in hosting. So a new one had to be built. The site changed at least once, farmers protested because their land had been taken away, and the workers constructing the track were treated poorly. Once it opened it was received pretty well, but it only went on for three years before tax issues forced the FIA to cancel the race (specifically, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to classify the event as "entertainment" rather than "sport", entitling them to a portion of the teams' revenue as tax). Ecclestone hoped to put it back on the calendar once the tax issues are resolved, but it wasn't resolved, and now with Ecclestone's ouster from power following the Liberty Media takeover, the Indian Grand Prix is likely dead. The Buddh International Circuit, the new track that caused so much controversy, only hosted races for a couple minor championships before being turned into a quarantine facility during the coronavirus pandemic.
    • The Korean Grand Prix was no picnic either: construction on the track went so slowly that it didn't get approval to hold races until 13 days before the inaugural race, there was a severe lack of accommodations for all the personnel needed (to the point that many of them had to stay in love motels), the location was prone to heavy rainfall, and the time they chose to start the race left them with little room for delays (which of course happened because of the aforementioned rain). As a result, many of the races ended at dusk and lighting was inadequate. Combine that with how unpopular it was with the drivers and the high costs to run the race, it was dropped for 2014, and failed to come back, despite signing a seven year contract.
    • All these, however, pale to the events of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which ended up cancelled altogether after protests sprung up in Bahrain. Even when those protests forced the cancellation of another race, the FIA and Ecclestone insisted the race would go on, and protesters alleged that the Crown Prince only agreed to negotiate with them so that the race - his pet project - would go on. Eventually, the race was cancelled note , but they tried to reschedule it for later in the year. Human rights protesters complained about how the FIA were quick to schedule it despite continuing protests, while the teams' association pointed out that races could not be rescheduled without their unanimous approval, per the FIA rules, and found the new date logistically impossible, forcing them to drop the race entirely for that year. It's since come back, but not without its hiccups: every year there are protests, and one year a team flat-out refused to come to a practice session because they had been hit by a firebomb.
  • Indy Car planned to host a street race in Boston, but, much like the aborted Olympic bid, public opinion was overwhelmingly against holding the race. Then it got canceled. Then it turned into a 'he-said-she-said' situation: the organizers blamed the government for making increasing and unreasonable demands, the government said the organizers didn't know what they were doing and were mismanaging it into the ground. Then the organizers filed for bankruptcy and claimed they had no funds to issue refunds, forcing IndyCar to step up and offer their own money to refund with, in order to maintain the goodwill of their fans. Now the organizers are facing bankruptcy and two lawsuits, one from Indy Car for breach of contract, and one from the Massachusetts attorney general on behalf of the ticket holders who didn't get refunds. The only silver lining in all this is that Watkins Glen International (always a popular racetrack) offered to step in and host an IndyCar race for the first time in six years.
  • NASCAR had its own example with the 2011 Quaker State 400, the first Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, located about 40 miles (65 km) from downtown Cincinnati. Not so much the race itself, mind you... the cluster came with the logistical planning, or lack thereof.
    • While the track owner, Speedway Motorsports, expanded the seating capacity for the track's Cup Series debut, it made no significant upgrades to the surrounding infrastructure, adding only a large RV parking space. Keep in mind that the track already had a reputation for race-related traffic snarls.
    • When raceday arrived, so did the traffic. And HOW. The race was set to start at 7:30 pm, but Interstate 71, which passes next to the track, began to back up as early as 11 am. By 3:30 pm, I-71 was backed up more than 15 miles to the north (i.e., nearly halfway to Cincinnati). At 6:00, I-71 was backed up for more than 20 miles in both directions, and side roads in the area were backed up for more than 10 miles. Even at 9 pm, halfway through the race, backups were still miles long. Then, at 9:30, traffic patterns were changed to outbound, and some ticketed fans were turned away without ever making it to the track.
    • Want more examples of how bad the traffic was? State Senate president David Williams, the Republican candidate for Kentucky governor left the state capital of Frankfort, about 45 miles away, at 2 pm in order to make an appearance at the track. He couldn't make his way through the trafficnote . Even one of the racers (Denny Hamlin) got caught in the jam, nearly missing the pre-race drivers' meeting.
    • The logistical problems weren't restricted to traffic. A shortage of portable toilets left many fans waiting a half-hour or more to answer nature's call. Other fans reported shortages at the concession stands.
    • Fortunately, Speedway Motorsports quickly learned its lesson. First, it gave holders of unscanned tickets from this race a very generous ticket exchange offer for future races at the track (or at other company-owned tracks). It also bought a farm next to the track property to further expand the parking, and worked closely with Kentucky authorities to improve access to the track.
  • The 1969 Talladega 500, the inaugural race on the Alabama International Motor Speedway (now the Talladega Superspeedway) on September 14, 1969. This video calls it "the worst NASCAR race ever", and goes into detail as to why.
    • It started with "Big Bill" France, the founder and owner of NASCAR, having a dream. He wished to create the largest oval circuit in the world, and after looking at several sites across the southern US, settled on the vacant Anniston Air Force Base about halfway between Talladega and Anniston in Alabama due to its proximity to Atlanta and Birmingham and to Interstate 20. France agreed to buy the land in exchange for also paying for the cost of new runways adjacent to his speedway in case the airbase ever had to be reopened; today, those runways are used for Talladega Municipal Airport. Construction went as planned, even though it had to be completed at a very rapid pace in order to get the track ready for opening day...
    • ...which is where the problems came in. The VIP suites were unfinished, with tables composed of sheets of plywood resting on sawhorses and guests having to wear earplugs during the race because the windows that would've muffled the road noise hadn't been installed yet. More critically, the drivers were only allowed to do test runs on the track five days before race day, and they reported handling problems before finding that, after only a few laps, the tires on their cars were shredded. The stress of racing on Talladega, in which cars were meant to run for hours on end at over 190 miles per hour on a track whose turns were banked at 33 degrees, was simply too much for their tires to take, as Goodyear and Firestone, NASCAR's main tire suppliers, had never dreamed of a track like this — especially given that, since the two companies were in the midst of a fierce battle to become NASCAR's sole tire supplier, they were Cutting Corners in order to make softer tires with more grip. Firestone withdrew their tires from the race to avoid a PR disaster, but Goodyear stayed in the game, hoping that it would win them the tire war.
    • By the Friday before race day, the drivers had had enough, and appealed to France and the newly-formed totally-not-a-union Professional Driver Association (PDA) to get the race postponed. France, however, was deep in debt from construction on Talladega, and he needed the race to make his money back; it would go on as scheduled no matter what. In response, every PDA-affiliated driver save for Richard Brickhouse (who raced for Chrysler's company team and was offered the opportunity to race their new Dodge Charger Daytona) boycotted the race out of fear for their safety, knowing that a tire blowout at such speeds could easily lead to a fatal wreck. According to Bobby Allison, when France called Allison a coward for not wanting to race, his fellow driver LeeRoy Yarbrough punched France in the face.
    • With most of NASCAR's top-tier drivers boycotting the Talladega 500, France, desperate to fill seats, offered NASCAR fans free tickets to next year's Daytona 500 if they came to see this race. To fill the pack (only three drivers, Brickhouse, Bobby Isaac, and Jim Vandiver, hadn't joined the boycott), he allowed in drivers from from a completely different series, racing slower vehicles than the stock cars used in NASCAR.
    • Fortunately, the tire problem was ultimately averted, as Goodyear flew in new tires at the last minute that proved capable of handling Talladega. The race itself still didn't go off without a hitch, however, as a scoring error meant that the race ended with both Brickhouse and Vandiver thinking that they'd won. According to legend, Chrysler sweet-talked France into giving the win to Brickhouse in the new Charger Daytona, as they wanted it to look good against the older-model Charger that Vandiver was driving. Vandiver was furious, and insisted until the day he died that he, and not Brickhouse, had won the race.
    • As the cherry on top, during the very next race that season, a PDA-affiliated driver, angry at Brickhouse for crossing the picket line to run the Talladega 500, spun him out as revenge. We know it to be deliberate because the driver who did it told a photographer where and when he'd get a great shot of a crash. The PDA ultimately folded a few weeks later, its attempt to pressure France into postponing the race having failed by virtue of it having gone on anyway without the problem that they had feared.
  • Because of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, many races hosted in China were cancelled.

    FIFA World Cup 
  • The 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile had the misfortune to be scheduled shortly after one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded slammed the country, leaving the country scrambling to rebuild the necessary infrastructure in time and forcing them to cut the number of host cities in half.
  • The hosting of the 1986 FIFA World Cup was originally awarded to Colombia, but they were forced to bail out in 1983 due to infrastructure issues that they didn't believe they could resolve in time; as Mexico had most of their infrastructure from the 1970 World Cup still in place, they were hastily designated the replacement hosts, only for a repeat of the lead-in to the 1962 World Cup when a massive earthquake hit Mexico City.
  • The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was such a clusterfrak that it was amazing the government of Dilma Rousseff won a re-election despite the backlash against its handling of the games.
    • Massive protests occurred in the year before the World Cup, largely out of the perception that public funds going to the games were being misused, wasted on corruption, and could be better used elsewhere. Brazilian footballer Romário referred to the Cup as the "biggest theft in history", claiming that its real cost was as much as US$46 billion and alleging massive corruption on the part of both FIFA and the Brazilian government. It was for this reason that no speeches were given at the opening ceremony, as is customary. When Rousseff did attend the final and delivered the Cup to the winning Germans, she received loud boos and jeering.
    • Not only were key facilities like hotels and even stadia still unfinished at the start of the games, but the removal of (mostly indigenous) people from their homes to build such facilities was another point of contention.
    • In 2003, Brazil had prohibited alcohol sales at stadiums in response to a number of alcohol-related deaths during football matches. It repealed this law, under heavy pressure from FIFA, with what became known as the "Budweiser Bill" after one of the World Cup's main sponsors.
    • The scariest part? This happened all over again at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Stadiums and infrastructure fell behind schedule, and the political situation wasn't much better, with an impeachment process temporarily driving Rousseff away from office. But like with the Cup, the Games themselves went mostly well.
  • The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia has seen its budget cut a few times but the only uproar regards how controversial the Russian government is. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar, however, was questioned from the get-go, is abusing its workers, will screw up the sports calendar, and people even call for it to be moved elsewhere.

    Olympic Games 
The modern Olympic Games are one of the largest sporting events in the world, with cities competing to host them in order to take advantage of the glamour and tourism revenue that they attract. However, once awarded, the cities usually have to foot the bill themselves. Sometimes they go off swimmingly; others... not so much.

  • St. Louis, 1904. Cracked referred to it as "the Craziest Event Ever Held", and it's hard to argue.
    • The fact that the Games were held in the center of the US rather than in western Europe or even on the East Coast, in a time before cheap air travel, meant that most European countries could only send a few athletes, if any. The result was a clean sweep by US athletes; 526 of the 651 people competing were doing so under the US flag, and 49 of the 94 events had only Americans in them.
    • Furthermore, the Games were originally scheduled to be held in Chicago, but a combination of campaigning by President Theodore Roosevelt and the fact that Chicago was woefully unprepared to host the Games forced the IOC to move the event to St. Louis, which was prepared... to host the World's Fair that same Summer. The organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition were strongly opposed to having to compete with the Olympics, to the point of threatening to create their own athletic competition.
    • The opening ceremony was a very low-key affair, with only the US team and a few foreign athletes in attendance. Instead of only a week, it took nearly five months to run all 94 events.
    • The men's marathon event, as covered in this video by Jon Bois, was so poorly organized and officiated that it led to three near-fatalities. Olympic organizer James E. Sullivan purposely provided only one official source of water 11 miles into the 25 mile route to test his theories of how far purposeful dehydration could be taken. Combined with the hot temperatures (90 °F/32 °C) and unpaved roads, this lead to life-threatening conditions for the athletes; William Garcia was found lying on the road with his lungs shredded by breathing in clouds of dust from passing cars. Andarín Carvajal stopped to eat apples along the route and found out the hard way they were rottennote . Thomas Hicksnote , was given rat poison and brandy in place of water by his trainers following him. Hicks had to be carried across the finish line by his team, and likely would have died there if not for doctors giving him prompt medical attention.
      • In the end, the marathon holds the worst ratio of entrants to finishers with only 14 of 32 finishing, and by far the slowest winning time with 3:28:45.
  • London, 1908.
    • These were originally scheduled to be held in Rome, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 drained Italy's Olympic fund as they were forced to spend that money on relief efforts and reconstruction in Naples instead.
    • Despite having to be organized on little notice, the newly-rescheduled London games went off with barely a hitch, save for when Ralph Rose, the American flag bearer, refused to dip the American flag to King Edward VII during the opening ceremony; his teammate Martin Sheridan is apocryphally quoted as saying "this flag dips to no earthly king" (a quote that was actually first attributed to him in The '50s). Most of the US team, Sheridan included, was composed of Irish Americans who eagerly supported Rose's move, leading to acrimony with the British judges.
  • The 1916, 1940, and 1944 Olympics are notable for being the only Olympic Games to ever be outright canceled, all of them on account of war. All of the host cities were in nations that were among the combatants of World War I and II — the 1916 Olympics were to be held in Berlin, the 1940 Olympics in Japan (the Summer Games in Tokyo, the Winter Games in Sapporo), the 1944 Summer Olympics in London, and the 1944 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
    • After Japan forfeited the 1940 Olympics in 1938 on account of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the International Olympic Committee tried, and failed, three times to salvage them. For the Winter Games, they initially offered them to St. Moritz in neutral Switzerland, but disputes with the Swiss organizing committee prevented that from happening. They thought they finally found a host city in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, which had hosted the Winter Games in 1936... only for Germany to invade Poland. As for the Summer Games, the IOC did successfully relocate them to Helsinki, but the outbreak of World War II in full forced them to cancel it. With the war still raging in 1944, the IOC made no similar effort to save the Olympics that year.
    • Fortunately, all of the host cities that saw their Olympics canceled for WWII would get a chance to host them again within 30 years of the war's end. St. Moritz hosted the first post-war Olympics with the 1948 Winter Games, London followed right after with the Summer Games that same year, Helsinki hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952, Cortina d'Ampezzo hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Games, and Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Three of these cities have since received a second Olympics. London hosted the 2012 Summer Games, Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Games (albeit in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; see Multiple Sports above), and Cortina d'Ampezzo will co-host the 2026 Winter Games alongside Milan.
  • Munich, 1972. The kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen was one of the grislier events on this list, and would be dramatized in the film Munich. The disaster forced the West German government to seriously re-examine its anti-terrorism procedures, especially after the botched rescue attempt that saw the athletes get killed.
  • Denver, Colorado... wait, make that Innsbruck, 1976.
    • With a slick presentation that lowballed costs and literally airbrushed out brown spots from photos of the Rockies, the Mile-High City beat out Sion, Switzerland, Tampere, Finland, and Vancouver, Canada for the XII Winter Olympics in 1970. However, as the estimated cost for the games tripled and concerns about environmental and civic disruption increased, public discontent mushroomed.
    • An anti-Olympics movement within the Colorado state legislature itself emerged, and on November 7, 1972, 59% of state voters rejected a crucial bond issue to finance the Games with public funds. Eight days later, Denver was forced to withdraw from its hosting duties.
    • The IOC offered the job to Whistler (just outside of Vancouver), but they declined. Salt Lake City then offered to host, but pulled out (further enraging the IOC) in 1973 when they were told by the US government they would get no federal funding.note  As a last resort, Innsbruck (the site of the 1964 Winter Olympics) stepped in and put together a successful (albeit not terribly fancy) Games with the infrastructure from their previous effort.
  • Montreal, 1976.
    • The Summer Games left Montreal so badly in debt that the financing for the Olympic Stadium wasn't paid off in full until 30 years later, and the province of Quebec insisted that the city pay off its own debts. The financial situation was so bad all around that the future of the Olympic Games was in serious doubt.
    • On top of that, most sovereign African countries boycotted the Games because the IOC would not suspend New Zealand following its rugby team's tour of South Africa (which was banned by the IOC at the time due to its apartheid laws).note 
  • The 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles games were marred by the tit-for-tat withdrawals of the US and Soviet delegations respectively. The United States pulled its team from Moscow 1980 over the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, while the Soviet Union pulled its team from Los Angeles 1984 in response; many of their respective allies did the same. The perceived politicization of the Olympics was responsible for the creation of the Goodwill Games by Ted Turner in 1986.
    • The 1980 withdrawal also had ramifications at NBC, which (in the midst of their Fred Silverman-induced doldrums) had pretty much bet the farm on Olympic programming that year... and found itself broadcasting an event that Americans, without the home team to root for, couldn't care less about. The network only did a grudging Clip Show to keep the diehards who couldn't care less about politics happy, but they still took a huge loss.
    • Somewhat related, as Cracked reports, the 1984 Olympics also had a negative effect on McDonald's, as well. The restaurant ran an "If the U.S. wins, you win!" promotion where customers were given a scratch card with an Olympic event on it; if the U.S. won a medal in that event, the customer would get a free Big Mac (for gold), fries (for silver) or drink (for bronze). With the Soviet Union and their allies (the U.S.'s biggest rivals) boycotting the games, this led to the American team winning a lot more medals than they would have otherwise, including more than twice as many gold medals as they did in 1976 (83 in '84 compared to 34 competing against Russia in '76), and McDonald's had to give away a lot of valuable Big Macs for free, to the point where many stores were reporting running out of them. The Simpsons would later parody this incident in the episode "Lisa's First Word," where Krusty tries the same thing and later threatens to spit in every 50th burger.
  • Seoul, South Korea, 1988.
    • While the Games themselves went off without a hitch from a non-political standpoint, they went horribly wrong for the ruling dictatorship of South Korea. President Chun Doo-hwan intended for the Games to act as a showcase of South Korea's booming industrial economy, legitimize his authoritarian regime, and stave off growing pro-democratic pressure. Instead, the job of hosting the Olympics tied the government's hands when it came to putting down protesters, as it found out when a mass uprising swept the country in June 1987. Rather than crack down hard (and make South Korea look like a Banana Republic just as the eyes of the world were focused on it), Chun gave in and oversaw constitutional reforms that established democracy and human rights protections and granted amnesty to political prisoners. South Korea's first democratically-elected President officially opened the Games less than a year after taking office.
    • And of course, as was the case with every Olympiad in The '80s, Cold War politics became an issue. The IOC fought hard to avoid a repeat of the boycotts of 1980 and 1984 - difficult given that, as mentioned, South Korea at the time was a dictatorship with a pretty bad human rights record. Furthermore, there was the issue of North Korea. They came up with their own plan for the Games, which was eagerly supported by Fidel Castro; it called for a joint organizing committee, two separate opening and closing ceremonies in Pyongyang and Seoul, and for the events to be roughly evenly divided between North and South Korea. When the plan was rejected, North Korea and Cuba attempted to lead another boycott of the Games, but this time, only Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Albania, the Seychelles, and Madagascar followed them.
  • Atlanta, 1996.
    • Like Munich, the Atlanta Games were also the site of a terrorist attack, this one a bombing by a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic named Eric Rudolph that killed two people and injured over a hundred more. Aside from the bombing, the Games were also criticized by European Olympic officials as being overly commercialized and garish, with an overcrowded Olympic Village and poor-quality food and transportation; notably, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch declined to refer to the Atlanta Games as "the best Olympics ever", as was his usual tradition, instead calling them "most exceptional".
    • However, the Atlanta Games were successful in one very important respect — they turned a healthy profit, precisely because of those TV and sponsorship deals, and the infrastructure built to support them led to a revitalization of Atlanta's downtown. (Most, if not all, of that infrastructure is still in use to this day.) Today, despite the aforementioned criticism, the 1996 Summer Olympics, together with the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, are often held up as examples of how to organize the Olympics without going overbudget and crippling the host city with debt.
  • Sydney, 2000.
    • In an event-specific example, the technicians who set up the equipment for the women's gymnastics all-around final somehow set the vaulting horse to the wrong height, 5 centimeters (2 inches) lower than the regulation height, causing many gymnasts to fall. The error was discovered, but not until a full half of the competitors had already vaulted, and the news didn't make its way to everyone until well into the third rotation, by which point the loss of confidence had already caused a number of mistakes on subsequent events that knocked those athletes out of medal contention (not to mention that one gymnast was injured and could not finish the competition); the gymnasts who vaulted on the improperly-set horse were offered do-overs on vault, but their scores on the other events had to stand. To this day, many fans feel that the actions were insufficient and that officials should have stopped the competition completely and done a full do-over at some later point, rather than pushing forward with a competition already affected in countless ways by the error.
  • Salt Lake City, 2002. The event were marred from the start by a scandal that broke in 1998, in which representatives for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee were accused of bribing the International Olympic Committee to award them the Games, including paying for the private schooling of one IOC member's child. While all parties were acquitted, this wasn't the only problem facing the SLOC, which was short some $379 million and needed to desperately make up the difference in order to have the money to build the required facilities. Venture capitalist Mitt Romney—the future governor of Massachusetts, Presidential candidate in 2012, and now Senator from Utah—made his name here by turning the Games around in record time after being brought in to head the SLOC; aside from a judging controversy, no events marred the Games themselves.
  • Athens, 2004. Construction was severely behind schedule, with key facilities like the tram system and the Olympic Stadium itself only being finished less than two months before the start of the Games. The design for the Aquatics Center had to be greatly scaled back (by deciding not to install a roof) in order to finish it on time.
  • Beijing, 2008. The Chinese government went out of its way to prevent a troubled production, issuing new etiquette guidelines for Beijing police, foiling a terrorist plot by Uighur separatists, and undertaking a massive anti-pollution campaign to ensure that the city's famously smoggy skies would be clear for the Games (several athletes had chosen to train overseas for this reason, only showing up in Beijing when they actually had to perform). However, controversies still popped up. The opening ceremony was marred by the revelation that the singer they had perform "Ode to the Motherland" had been lip-synching, there were questions surrounding the age of some of the Chinese gymnasts, and despite the government's best efforts, there were still pollution problems, with some athletes pulling out of events due to poor air quality . This was on top of calls for boycotts of the Games due to China's human rights issues.
  • Vancouver, 2010. Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a training run, raising concerns over the safety of the luge course.note  Also, since an El Niño event was going on, the Games often found themselves chronically short of snow due to the abnormally warm weather; snow had to be trucked in from higher in the mountains.
  • London, 2012.
    • The Games themselves were an overall success and actually turned a small profit, but the run-up was marred by scandal as the IOC was given free rein to turn the city into their personal fiefdom: Special traffic lanes for Olympic athletes, ridiculously aggressive trademark enforcement and the apparent suspension of local anti-competitive behaviour laws did not endear the Olympics to many sectors of the press, the zenith - or nadir - of the absurdity coming when McDonald's were given an exclusive monopoly license to sell chips anywhere within Olympic venues. It was also about this time that serious public attention was focused on the steadily escalating cost of the Games and the questionable long-term benefits.
    • These games also suffered a scandal when the company contracted to provide security, G4, ended up having for too little staff to necessary for such an event. As a result the army needed to be drafted in at short notice.
  • Sochi, 2014. Intended by Vladimir Putin as a showcase of Russian prosperity, Sochi instead came to be seen as a debacle well before the events kicked off.
    • The Games were marred by corruption scandals from top to bottom, to the point where it would be easier to list the instances where such accusations weren't happening. Sochi 2014 cost more than $50 billion, more than every other Winter Olympic Games put together, and it was said that at least a third of that money was lost due to corruption.
    • The Games began just as Russia became embroiled in controversy over a harsh new anti-LGBT law purporting to crack down on promoting "non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors. While no countries outright boycotted the Games, there was passive-aggressive opposition from many quarters - the German Olympic team wore rainbow-colored uniforms, the US sent a delegation of three openly gay athletes (in place of Barack Obama, who declined to attend; although the Winter Olympics' opening ceremony is not considered a "must-visit" for most major politicians), and Google put up an Olympic-themed Doodle that doubled as a statement of support for LGBT rights. On top of this, there were also protests by Circassian nationalists demanding a state apology from the Russian government over the ethnic cleansing of Circassians that had gone on in the region 150 years prior.
    • Fear of terrorism ran high, especially following a number of high-profile bombings in Russia by terrorists from the region in the months before the Games.
    • There were complaints over the safety of the slopestyle course, with Shaun White and others refusing to ride it after one snowboarder was seriously injured on it during practice. Last-minute changes had to be made to it.
    • The difficulties with venues were, to some, exacerbated by unseasonable warm temperatures that made the Sochi games the warmest Winter Games ever. While part of Russia's marketing for the Games had been that they would be the first Winter Games where it would be possible to lounge on a beach between events held in the mountains where there would be no shortage of the snow everyone expects a Russian winter to abound innote , they certainly didn't expect it to be so warm that a BBC reporter could cover a ski-jumping event wearing shorts because it was close to 15º C (around 60º F). Needless to say this led to more complaints.
    • Key facilities were still unfinished on the eve of the opening ceremony. "#SochiFail" became a popular Twitter hashtag among people attending the Olympics and photographing the conditions at the hotels, which often included broken light fixtures, blinds, and door locks; communal toilets; Spartan furnishings in hotel rooms; and tap water that was unsafe to drink.
    • There are also the jaw-dropping reports that people were actually getting stuck in places. American bobsledder Johnny Quinn found himself stuck first in a bathroom, forcing him to break apart the door to escape, only to get stuck in an elevator two days later.
    • In the end, what little international goodwill Russia elicited from the Games evaporated when, just one week after the closing ceremony, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. Indeed, the Games were so bad that some commentators even suggested that the invasion was done, at least in part, to try and salvage Russian pride after the humiliating debacle that was Sochi.
    • It emerged afterwards that Russia presided over a state-run doping program involving corrupt anti-doping officials, intelligence agents, and dozens of athletes including members of the cross-country ski team and two medal-winning bobsledders. The doping program allowed Russian athletes (who had previously performed poorly in Vancouver) to outperform their American rivals and win the most medals at Sochi. The pervasiveness of the doping program and Russia's refusal to cooperate with the World Anti-Doping Agency led to Russia's track and field team being banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The IOC nearly went one step further by completely banning the Russian delegation from the 2016 games, but decided instead to let each sport's governing body decide if certain Russian athletes could participate while banning any Russian athlete with a prior doping sanction (though Russia was banned from the Rio Paralympics). As a result, of the original lineup of 387 Russian delegates, only 272 were approved to participate, with the most of the banned athletes outside of the aforementioned track and field team being weightlifters and rowers. In the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russian Olympic Committee was suspended in December 2017 due to the doping scandal. Athletes who had no previous drug violations and a consistent history of drug testing were to be allowed to compete under the Olympic Flag as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR). Under the terms of the decree, Russian government officials were barred from the Games, and neither the country's flag nor anthem would be present. However, even this wasn't enough to gain compliance from Russia (two Russian athletes were still caught doping), to the point that in December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency ultimately decided to bring down the hammer and ban Russia from major international sporting competitions, including the Olympics and World Cup, for four years. (While individual athletes from Russia are allowed to compete under a neutral flag, teams have been banned from the Tokyo games.)

    • The fallout from Sochi didn't end in Russia. Over the next two years, largely due to public pressure from citizens about costs, a number of desirable locations in Europe withdrew their bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics ... leaving only Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan, major cities in countries not known for their commitment to the kind of democracy that allows angry citizens to force governments to withdraw Olympic bids. The IOC's widely ridiculed decision to award those Games to Beijing, which might under other circumstances have celebrated and been praised for being the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Games, was a last-ditch effort to save the Winter Games, because at least they know the Chinese can do it, however imperfectly. And for the 2026 Winter Olympics, Italy split the venues between Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.
  • Rio de Janeiro, 2016. While some of the infrastructure was ready by the time Rio was a venue for The World Cup two years prior, buildings getting overpriced and/or behind schedule were tragically common. Brazil getting hit by an economic recession, a drought in Rio's region, Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, a Zika virus outbreak (and graphic photos of babies suffering from microcephaly), and constant reminders that the water around Rio is highly polluted did not help matters either. The IOC even held meetings with Madrid authorities in case the Spanish capital needed to take over.
    • Less than a week before the start of the Games, athletes arrived to find the Olympic Village in "uninhabitable" conditions. The Australian team was confronted with blocked toilets, leaking pipes, puddles near exposed wiring, darkened stairwells, and filthy floors, causing them to stay at nearby hotels. The team eventually moved back in, only to be evacuated by a small fire in the building. As of a week before the opening ceremony, only 12 of the 31 buildings in the Village passed safety inspections.
    • The private firm handling security at the Games was fired for "incompetence and irresponsibility," causing Rio and the IOC to scramble to beef up security.
    • Once the Games started, there were less problems than expected, even leading the naysaying international reporters to admit things went well. Things that did go awry included catering (the food wasn't enough, forcing food trucks to be brought or security to allow viewers to buy what they wanted outside; to make it worse, buyers were subject to huge lines and abusive prices), a pool that went green, a camera that fell, a bus full of reporters whose glass was broken, a scalping scandal that even led to an IOC executive being arrested, and a few events that were postponed due to rain and\or wind.
      • The cycling road race was a massive subject of contention. There were three different routes (for the men's, women's, and Paralympic races), and all three failed safety checks before the Games even began. The Brazilians took some measures, which was mostly sticking mesh to trees, and nobody was satisfied. In the men's race, over a dozen cyclists ended up in the hospital and everyone got itchy. Then the women raced, and one of the cyclists expected to medal spun into the gutter and broke her neck. She began recovery very quickly, but not after outrage — in particular, GB commentator and former athlete Chris Boardman ripping his microphone off and leaving the studio to find the nearest BBC camera crew and ranting on and on. Come the Paralympics and an Iranian cyclist came off on the downhill and broke his neck in the same way as the Dutch woman, and suffered a fatal heart attack as a result.
    • One thing that didn't pose a problem, however, was Rio's infamously high crime rates. Instead, the world got the bizarre moment when Ryan Lochte and three other members of the US swim team claimed that they had been robbed at gunpoint at a gas station by criminals posing as police, seemingly confirming fears about crime in Rio posing a threat to security... that is, until it turned out that they had in fact been lawfully removed from the premises by armed security because they had trashed the gas station's bathroom. Lochte lost four major sponsorships in the aftermath of the incident, while one of the other swimmers, Jimmy Feigen, was fined $10,800.
    • The Paralympics became one too, given the revelation of budgetary issues that popped up with just under one month to go.
    • The problems didn't even end with the games, as the medals were made more cheaply than usual, and in less than a year many of them had started to fall apart. The IOC had to then promise to replace all of the more than 2,000 faulty medals.
  • Proving that you don't even have to win hosting the games to have one of these, the attempt by Boston to host the 2024 games was full of problems.
    • Between the half-formed and outright stupid proposals (such as building an athlete's village in Southie, and even a cursory knowledge of the neighborhood's history tells you why that's a bad idea) they were also dealing with terrible timing, as this was all unfolding while memory of the worst winter on record, which saw the already aging transportation system grind to a screeching halt, was still fresh in everyone's minds.
    • Add to that a history of city officials pitching grandiose projects like The Big Dig that go horrifically over budget and time (for more on that, see the "Other" page) and there was skepticism and outright scorn towards Boston 2024 from the start, not helped by attempts by the city to make it appear the idea had more support than it did that got them accused of Astro Turfing, including using plants at community meetings to intimidate the opposition and a ban on city employees publicly criticizing the bid.
    • And while no one would admit so out loud, after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, no one wanted to tempt fate that boldly after what happened in Atlanta in 1996.
    • Public opposition was so bad that the people in charge of it fought tooth and nail to prevent the public from voting on anything related to it, since they knew that would be the end of it. The bid was eventually dropped completely in an announcement by Mayor Marty Walsh after the IOC rushed him to sign an agreement, and while he dropped it ostensibly because the IOC wasn't able to guarantee insurance for the taxpayer dollars that would inevitably go into it, it's pretty much universally believed he really did so because he realized he did not have and never was going to have the support he needed from the general public and continuing to back the bid would hurt his chances of reelection.
  • Related to the above: Thanks to the rising costs of hosting the Olympics, much like the bid for 2022, many prospective hosts besides Boston withdrew their bids for 2024. Then when the IOC narrowed down the candidates, three of them ended up withdrawing anyway, either due to costs or because referendums voted against the bid. In the end, only two cities - Paris and Los Angeles - bid for the 2024 games, and it was decided that whoever lost the bid for 2024 (which ended up being Los Angeles) would get to host the 2028 Olympics instead - because the IOC was afraid no one would bid for 2028.
  • The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea got off to a tricky start as their neighbors to the north had recently been making noise about nuclear war. Then when athletes began arriving, they were met with brutally cold temperatures, enough that many skis were warped after just a single practice run and had to be thrown away.
    • The giant slalom alpine race was cancelled due to dangerous winds. Controversially not cancelled was the previous day's women's slopestyle, resulting in numerous accidents and only five of the twenty-five participants managing to finish.
    • After the above-mentioned Russian ban, ultimately over a hundred athletes from the country who'd been found innocent of doping were allowed to compete under a neutral flag. However, things were still very tense between them and the other competitors, with reports that the American speed skating team refused to so much as talk to them. Then two of them were discovered to be doping this time around, one of whom was stripped of his speed skating bronze medal, while the other had been parading around in a shirt that said "I don't do doping." This also cost the Russian athletes the chance of entering the closing ceremony under their own flag, as the IOC had considered relenting until the dopers were caught.
    • The British skeleton uniforms were accused of being illegal by former champion Katie Uhlaender, due to aerodynamic ridges, though the team maintained that they passed all inspections.
    • The bizarre saga of Elizabeth Swaney, a thoroughly average skier from America who was able to get onto the Hungarian team through severe Loophole Abuse, after previous attempts at Sochi. In an Olympics already swimming in controversies, this is easily the strangest as both participants and viewers are sharply divided over whether she's a disgrace to the games or a Rudy Ruettiger-esque inspiration for being such a Determinator. Though she certainly didn't help her case with her entitled behavior after her near trickless run didn't get her into the finals.
  • Just months before they were set to start, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics got bumped back by a year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It's the first time in the history of the Olympics that the Games have been postponed (although they have been outright cancelled three times due to the World Wars).

    National Football League 
  • Super Bowl XLV, the championship game of the 2010-11 NFL season. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to use the game to showcase his team's brand-new, $1.15 billion Cowboys Stadium (now known as AT&T Stadium, and also "known" as Jerry World or Death Star), and to break the Super Bowl attendance record. However, the week in the run-up to the game was a comedy of errors.
    • On January 28, Cowboys Stadium was put on lockdown due to a suspicious package... which turned out to be a piece of debris.
    • A few days before the game, a freak snow storm blanketed the area resulting in closure of local airports and several roads as well as brief power outages throughout the region. note  In addition to everything else, this meant that the technicians who were supposed to be finishing the last-minute details couldn't get out to the site, costing them a day's work right at a critical point.
    • The Friday before the game, six people were injured by ice falling from the roof. As a result, on game day four of the 10 gates were closed, making it very difficult for fans to enter the stadium.
    • To help the chances of breaking the attendance record, Jones ordered the installation of 15,000 temporary seats. However, partly because of ice and snow storms in the area around the stadium, 1,250 of those seats weren't finished on game day. 850 of the fans who were to be in those seats were able to get seats elsewhere, but the other 400 were forced to go to a bar inside the stadium and watch the game on TV. They were refunded triple their ticket prices, but that still didn't take into account hotel, airfare, and other such expenses. Several fans ended up suing the NFL (the case was settled out of court).
    • At the end of the day, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. And the total attendance was 103,219, only 766 short of the record.
  • The 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, popularly known as the Ice Bowl. Played on New Year's Eve in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the air temperature at kickoff was −15°F (−26°C), with wind chills as low as −48°F (−44°C). On top of that, the turf's heating malfunctioned, and moisture from the tarpaulin flash-froze, with more and more of the field freezing as it fell into shadow. The opening band performances were cancelled after the woodwind players found the cold prevented their instruments from working while the brass players got their lips frozen to the mouthpieces, and several were hospitalized for hypothermia. Many of the players had to take alternate transport to the stadium when their cars wouldn't start, including linebacker Dave Robinson resorting to hitchhiking. There wasn't proper clothing for the weather available, forcing the referees to run to clothing stores. Referee Norm Schachter injured his lips when they froze to his whistle after the start of play, and for the rest of the game they all officiated through voice alone. According to some Green Bay fan testimonies, several of the Dallas fans, having taken the train up to Green Bay for the game, were unprepared for the frigid weather, and one elderly fan in the stands actually died from exposure. The Ice Bowl has been cited as the reason why, until 2013, the Super Bowl was only ever played in warm-weather cities or in domed stadiums. But despite all this (and in a large part because), it's widely considered one of the greatest football games ever played due to the long rivalry between the Packers and Cowboys, and the highly dramatic winning touchdown from the Packers in its final moments.


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