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Towards the Olympics on the Moon
The Ancient Olympic Games (Ὀλυμπιακοί ἀγώνες, „Olympiakoi agones“) were a section of a series of athletic competitions and religious celebrations and festivals (together called the Panhellenic Games), in which male representatives of city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece participated every four years. The location of the Games was Olympia, Greece, as the Olympics were held in honor of the God Zeus. The first Olympic Games are traditionally dated to 776 BC. The ancient Olympic Games had huge multi-faceted impacts embracing political and cultural areas, exchange of ideas, contacts and trade. A number of myths are associated with the origin of the Ancient Olympic Games, as for example the one claiming Zeus’s son Heracles to have been the real founder of the Games, or the legends celebrating the first Olympic champion Coroebus, a mere cook, or the widely held notion that no conflicts or wars could be fought during the Olympic Games which symbolized peace. The 4th century AD marked then the end of the Ancient Games, when Greek temples were destroyed by the Romans, who banned all pagan festivals.
In the modern history of the Olympics it was Baron Pierre de Coubertin who created the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, which later resulted in the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. The modern Olympic Games onwards have become leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions, in which thousands of athletes from around the world would participate.
It is assumed that the next decade will produce a stable Lunar Base and regular commercial flights to the Moon. The Olympic Games on the Moon could then be seen as the next step predicted for the year of 2050, and their long preparation and final realization will have the same impact on the international relations, politics and culture as in the past centuries.
II. General Considerations
When talking finance and sponsorship, the regular Winter Olympic Games substantiate the costs to be around $13 billion with having 13 worldwide Olympic partners. Those partners are crucial for running the Games. One of the most important is Coca-Cola which sponsors the Games since 1928 (being the longest continuous partner). Coca-Cola supports over 90 top athletes, making the whole presence of the brand even stronger and more important. Visa provides over 1000 contactless point-of-sale terminals for easier and faster payments for visitors. Providing services like mobile and wearable payments, Visa solved a problem of accumulating huge amounts of money on one spot.
NBC broadcasts the OG on a regular basis and bought rights to do so from 2021 until 2032 for the amount over $7.65 billion. Since NBC possesses years of experience with broadcasting the OG, maintaining a full-time cooperation for the OG on the Moon should pre-empt any misunderstandings between the broadcaster and the International Olympic Committee.
Budgeting for the Games on the Moon would be, of course, much more challenging. The overall budget is expected to be around $120 000 billion. The most expensive part of the Games would be the transport of all the material on the Moon along with building facilities and stadiums. Since the WOG do not require building so many of them, the overall costs should be reasonable for such a “mission”. One of the challenges is that there is no water on the Moon, so all the ice would be artificially created and transported. Since many sports may use the same ice, the total amount of it would not be necessarily enormous.
Discussing the costs, the most important part of the fundamental organization would be finding sufficient funding. One of the ways to promote the OG on the Moon along with raising money may represent a worldwide lottery. Since the expenses for travelling on the Moon may be extremely high for ordinary people, this lottery would give them a chance to win a free ticket along with the transportation. Offering 100 free tickets worldwide, announcing the winners each month would definitely raise awareness about the OG and positively promote the event. While printing about 1 billion tickets with the cost of $25 dollars per ticket, the fundraiser could expect around $20 billion of profit (including travelling costs and printing costs). Cheaper travelling costs might be provided by Elon Musk and his company Space X.
Elon Musk is a living genius developing new technologies and ways of travelling into space. He owns Tesla, a worldwide known electro-mobile company. He also owns Space X, the company responsible for the development of the revolutionary rocket Falcon 9, the first rocket capable of re-flight. Falcon 9 dramatically reduced costs of travelling into space. There is also Falcon Heavy, offering much more payload, i.e. carrying capacity. Elon Musk is capable of offering or even redesigning his rockets for the OG program. Contacting him should then be a primary task.
Another man to contact, a very powerful man, should be Jeff Preston Bezos. He owns Amazon, the biggest online provider in the US. His net worth is reported as $193.2 billion (2021). Since Bezos possesses such great fortune, he may help funding some of the expenses. Bezos is known for investing into things that “change people’s lives”, and the Olympic Games on the Moon may be considered a life-changing challenge for him.
Sir Richard Branson with his Virgin Group is a billionaire investing into a better use of space for changing and improving the life on Earth. Branson offers a new generation of space vehicles “to open space for everyone” (virgingalactic.com). His vision is to enable people to travel into space.
Moving away from individuals, it is of a great importance to contact both the organizations playing crucial roles in space travelling and Olympic organizations. One of those is NASA, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958 and has the most knowledgeable experience of all organizations within space research. Most of the technological and security problems would certainly be discussed between NASA and International Olympic Committee.
The International Olympic Committee acts as the leader of the Olympic Movement. Moreover, the IOC should be regarded as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family (NOCs, the IFs, the athletes and the OCOGs to the Worldwide Olympic Partners, broadcast partners and the United Nations). Borrowing the name “Olympic Games” would have to be solved with the IOC. The IOC would also be in contact with the broadcasters and as mentioned above, with a number of other organizations and federations.
The UN, an organization consisting of 193 member states, is the worldwide organization where the topic “The Olympic Games on the Moon” should be discussed first of all. Since most of the member states participate in the Olympic Games, scheduling a meeting at their platform would be the best way of getting the whole project started. Not only would they discuss the organizational part, how much each country may participate in hosting it, the basic finance and business would also be discussed there. The main mission of the United Nations is: the maintenance of international peace and security, and to prevent conflict. While visiting their website, you can see the motto “Shape our future together.” That is exactly what one has in mind when suggesting the Olympic Games to be held on the Moon.
III. The OG on the Moon
Let’s suppose that the athletes land on the moon. The emerging immediate problem is their accommodation. There are in fact only a few possibilities. For example, the team of architects, engineers and scientists called SAGA are working on making space liveable for future space travellers by approaching the design of habitats from a human perspective, where mental well-being and social sustainability is part of the life support equation. This space project is called LUNARK. The founders, Sebastian Aristotelis and Karl-Johan Sørensen, together with their team built the first moon habitat analogue in the Arctic regions of Greenland. The two founders are currently living there, for two months in total. “The LUNARK mission is an admirably ambitious project and a refreshing technology demonstrator of what the future Lunar Habitat might look like. The project promotes important innovation and research for aerospace.“ said the director of the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, Kristian Pedersen. (lunark.space, 2020)
One option would then necessarily be to build lunar stations on the moon, replacing Olympic villages, another one to let the athletes live in the spaceship. Everyone should have their own rooms and the access to common gyms or running tracks, so the individual athletes could train even during the flight. The spaceship must include sufficient supply of drinking water and food, medical clinics with doctors and nurses, and also oxygen masks and spacesuits for everyone if the need arises.
The decision whether to organize the summer or winter Olympics on the moon is a very challenging topic to be discussed by the International Olympic Committee. It is also debatable whether to simply unite the two Games in one, covering thus both summer and winter disciplines that could be feasible to run under the conditions on the moon. By this selection, lots of athletes may not be able to participate in the moon Olympics as their sport may not be appropriate and thus part of the program. This applies to all types of water sports, as there is no hydrosphere on the moon and the transport of water would be impractical, if not impossible. Because of the low gravity the water drops would float and the athletes would not be able to swim in the pool. Skiing and snowboarding would then be other most certainly cancelled sports because there are no mountains on the moon. This kind of discrimination could lead to disagreements and arbitration proceedings.
Another question must be resolved – the frequency of the Olympics. Supposing none of the Games are cancelled, will the interval between the Olympic Games still remain four years? In that way the organization of the Olympics would cost much more than before. The Moon Olympics Games will be the most expensive ones, and from this point of view they should take place occasionally rather than on a regular basis.
Astronauts are not only very well trained for the conditions in space but they are also educated in functioning in the spaceships for years. The same training and expertise for athletes would, however, be much more demanding and expensive. Therefore, not every prominent athlete should participate in the moon Olympics, but it should remain their own choice. For those who would be willing to try, there should be an extensive manual or training course about every single side effect caused by travelling to the moon. The problem is that no one has discovered all of the problems that could affect the athletes as there have been none on the moon so far. The training centres can simulate the conditions similar to the ones on the moon, but there is no guarantee of 100% accuracy. What if the athlete who competed on the moon would not be able to participate in the earth Olympics because their sport performance would get worse as his body got used to being in the 1/6 gravitation field on the moon? How long would their recovery take? The impact on both mental and physical conditions of the athletes should be thoroughly examined after as well.
Let’s go back to the financial side again. One of the most important topics in the implementation of any project is its budget. Organizing the Olympic Games is a financially and organizationally demanding affair.
The planning of the Olympic Games costs on average from 20 to 50 billion dollars. (Statista, 2016) It mainly depends on the infrastructure of the hosting city, the number of stadiums in the area and other factors. Because on the moon there is no infrastructure, no Olympic villages nor stadiums, the expenditure on building these objects and facilities would exceed the usual budget by several billions.
The massive costs behind the Olympic Games (in billion U.S. dollars)
The chart above shows the expenses of hosting the Olympic Games from 1992 to 2016. The winter Olympics in Sochi outreached the planned budget eight times and the cost of the Olympic stadium tripled any other stadium in the world. (Statista, 2016)
The money for the hosting of the Olympic Games comes mostly from the public budgets of the host countries, often the Olympics are debt-financed, and it takes decades for the money invested to return. Countries are forced to introduce additional measures for example in the form of taxes.
It is clear that the money from the public budgets of the host countries will not suffice for the organization of the Moon Olympics. The solution may be that each participating country will contribute 50% of its defence and military spending. The annual cost of this activity from the ten most developed countries in the world would mount to over a thousand trillion dollars per year. This amount of money saved over 50 years should cover the expenses of the organization of the Olympic Games on the moon.
For the last one hundred years the Olympics have been a global symbol of peaceful cooperation and competition in the name of sports. Leveraging this legacy in the 21st Century, the Moon Village Association intends to “propose a symbolic event on the Moon during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, either in 2024 in Paris (France) or in 2026 in Milan-Cortina (Italy).” (spaceref.com, 2019)
As Giuseppe Reibaldi, President of the Moon Village Association, states: “Showcasing Olympic Games on the Moon will be for the public a concrete example of the implementation of the Moon Village, and a demonstrative pilot case of Earth-based activities that can be carried over onto the Moon, in an innovative new manner. These symbolic Olympic Games on the Moon will signal a new auspicious landmark for humanity and stimulate public inspiration; whilst at the same time attracting the interest and bringing in the involvement of industries that have never been involved before on Moon and Space related activities”. (spaceref.com, 2019)
IV. References/ Sources/ Bibliography
- Business Insider: How extreme future Olympic sports could be on the Moon. [online]. 2016. [cit. 2020-1-12]. Available from: https://www.businessinsider.com/olympics-moon-science-physics-sports-what-if-2016-8
- China’s National Space Administration, CNSA. [online]. 2019. [cit. 2020-30-11]. Available from: http://www.cnsa.gov.cn/english/index.html
- space: A Journey to the Moon. [online]. 2020. [cit. 2020-1-12]. Available from: https://lunark.space/
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA: Lunar Olympics. [online]. 2006. [cit. 2020-2-12]. Available from: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/08feb_lunaralps.html
- org: Charles Duke. [online]. 2018. [cit. 2020-2-12]. Available from: https://www.olympic.org/news/astronaut-charles-duke-who-brought-the-olympic-spirit-to-the-moon-honoured-by-the-ioc
- ru. [online]. 2020. [cit. 2020-1-12]. Available from: http://en.roscosmos.ru/
- SAGA: Space architects. [online]. 2020. [cit. 2020-1-12]. Available from: https://asaga.space/
- Scholastic: Moon Olympics. [online]. 2020. [cit. 2020-29-11]. Available from: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/activities/teaching-content/moon-olympics-science-explorations-activity/
- Spaceref: Olympics On The Moon. [online]. 2019. [cit. 2020-1-12]. Available from: http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=54915
- com. [online]. 2016. [cit. 2020-30-11]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/chart/5424/the-massive-costs-behind-the-olympic-games/
Charles university Prague
Masaryk university Brno
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