The Olympics were once the Columbian Exposition of sports. All paths led to the cities fortunate enough to host them. But now they're albatrosses for their host countries, consuming piles of wealth in advance of the opening ceremonies, and crapping out a bunch of underutilized, crumbling venues in their wake.
What if the problem with the Olympics is that too much of their pomp has been associated with geography and centralization? Why not make them a distributed phenomenon?
People go to movie theaters to watch live-streamed telecasts of This American Life. Why do they go? Because it's live, because it's an event, because they'll be sitting along side other people who they perceive are part of their tribe. Even a projected version of the original is still considered authentic because it is linked, like an entangled quantum particle, with the original. Until now, the authenticity of the Games has been derived from their rarity and unique location. But the overwhelming majority of viewers are not actually present - they're watching online or on TV. The setting is just an organizing principle, a context.
But does geography have to be the defining context of the Olympics? What would happen if the Olympic games were distributed across the many existing venues that could already house them? Do audiences really care that this year's events are in Sochi, or Rio, or wherever? Could the unique identity of each games spring from a factor other than its geographic location? Would people still watch for all the other reasons we become enraptured by phenomena we never see in real life?