The responsibility of hosting an Olympic Games is no child’s play.
This first week in Rio has revealed much of the struggle and stress that goes into playing host to this great, quadrennial party.
For the host city, it’s streets, it’s rooms and it’s people, the joy might come later, in reflection of a job well endured.
You might have seen the Maracanã lit up, in all its glory, but you wouldn’t have been shown the humbling images of men and women working around the clock for the last few weeks, desperate to at least look the part.
For third world cities with first world ambitions, hosting the Games has its appeal.
All those visitors, all those foreign currencies.
All that exposure – all those hashtags.
But, for cities like Durban, who share so much DNA with Rio, this month and the past year ought to serve as a sobering lesson.
The trenches a city must dig to pull this off must be deep, perhaps far too deep for developing countries.
The people of the host city will probably despise the local government by the time the opening ceremony comes around.
There is so much compromise that needs to come from the man in the street.
A total of 500 000 visitors come and take over your ’hood, and expect smiles, enthusiasm and first world logistics on tap.
They compare Rio to London, Athens to Sydney, for they couldn’t care less about the host city’s circumstances. For this one month, it must be heaven on earth, and anything less will be a blot on the copybook.
And hosting the 2010 World Cup holds no water when up against the Olympic wave. In a World Cup, you worry about 32 teams and their hangers-on.
The Olympics requires you to constantly manage a wave of 10 000 journalists, even more athletes, 25 000 volunteers – and that’s before you deal with the paying patrons.
It requires a public transport system overhaul, and buy-in from an entire Cory that will live in queues triple that of the 2010 World Cup.
For many reasons, then, hosting this great event is a massive headache. After all this, Brazilians will go back to their problems and their politicians.
They will, however, have the legacy of a modern transport system, one that came at a mighty big price, but should stay for a long time, long after the spirit of the flame has left the building.
These are the lessons that Durban and other would-be hosts must absorb.
The Olympics are not all fun and Games.