For my master’s thesis, I made a documentary on the London 2012 Olympics. I traipsed through the city carrying a heavy camera I barely knew how to use, bothering everyone I could meet for an interview and watching events from the cheap seats. During school, I read and wrote and watched the Olympics every which way – in the LA84 museum, in the British archives, late at night staring at a screen – from the angle of foreign policy, diplomacy, cultural criticism, psychology, and just plain entertainment.
Despite this – or perhaps because of it – I have very little idea of how the Olympics will look every other year. The Games are predicated on being unpredictable.
There are only a few things I’m sure of for the next few Olympics…
Matt Lauer is going to ruin the Opening Ceremony by talking through it.
We will learn how to pronounce the city name properly, even while Matt Lauer doesn’t.
Matt Lauer will draw comparisons to Akira, a dystopian manga and anime set in Tokyo while the city hosts the 2020 Olympics and constantly joke aloud about whether everyone will die. No one will laugh.
New York 2022: “The New York Bitchface Olympics”
The new sport “Enduring Winter,” will be added just for this Olympics. You will be moved through a series of small, poorly lit rooms. You will walk in every snowstorm, which will likely be twice as many as today with climate change. Sweden is disqualified for hiding SAD lamps in their hoods, and for smiling all the time, ugh, seriously. Of course, most of the sports will actually be held in stadiums and fields in New Jersey, Queens, and Brooklyn, but everyone is going to be complaining about Times Square. That year will be remembered as the year the tourists themselves finally got sick of it.
Tijuana/San Diego 2030: “The Serious Olympics”
Everyone will come looking for a party, so the TJ/SD Olympic Committee will be very clear that they want you to take them seriously. While the logo will be a tequila worm, it will be a tequila worm wearing a business suit. All athletes will be given background checks before hard partying and alcohol will be banned from certain events. This will lead to intense existential awakenings in certain individuals. “Hipster” might come back as a compliment.
Paris 2046: “The Steampunk Olympics”
Paris, desperate to change their global images of constant affairs and smoking, will host a steampunk Olympics. Everyone will compete in boudoir wear and everything will be a mechanical. The Paralympics include jet packs and cyborgs.
London 2054: “The Frozen Olympics”
During the next Ice Age, London will host the Winter Olympics. Everyone dies of frostbite. It’s a pretty good Games, though.
Nigeria 2060: “The African Olympics”
Every Olympics set in Africa is called the “Africa Olympics.” Nigeria does a great job. The Opening Ceremony gets awkward as past nations are called out for being imperialist jerks. Think of that scene in Mean Girls – “who here has been victimized by [imperialist nation here]?”
Google 2070: “The Matrix Olympics”
As the divide between nation-states erode, corporations start hosting the Games themselves. By this time, enough Olympics will have that mining data on past Games can be used to create an algorithm that creates a Games that appeals to anyone who watches. Depressed about women’s place in the world? Your Olympics will be filled with a diverse group of women competing in sports! Depressed about the state of a certain nation? Don’t worry, they’ve poured all their money into one athlete, who will win every sport he competes in! Depressed that all these Olympians are so accomplished and you feel inadequate in comparison? Michael Phelps isn’t in yours!
YouTube 2072: “The Infinite Jest Olympics”
Everyone will be expected to compete in the Olympics. All 8 billion people in the world will put all their names in a lottery and be given a name and a sport. The name they are given is the person they will watch and cheer for; the sport is the one they will play. Runners will run whatever time they will run, wrestlers will fight machines, etc. They are given a year to learn their sport. They never meet the athlete they watch or the person who watched them.
Tumblr 2074: “I Can’t with this Olympics”
Sports are redefined. What is sport? Is it a fancy or a feeling? Is it another word for love? Athletes are expected to make art projects on what sports mean to them. Everyone will vote on the best piece by reblogging.
Space 2900: “No Relation to the Lonely Island Song”
Outer Space, as ruled by the reanimated corpse of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, will host the Olympics where all the athletes have to learn the physics beforehand if they are going to do well. The Games are terribly boring – everything is slower in zero gravity – but the advances made in physics result in public space travel.
Earth 3000: “The Intergalactic Olympics”
For all the other planets visiting Earth for the Olympics, they have to use every stadium possible. Aliens turn out to be very, very good at Olympic sports.
Earth 3002: “The Earth Olympics”
All aliens are banned from Olympic sports. Earth competes against itself and wins all the medals!
Sulagna Misra is hosting an Olympics event, “MEDAL-HEADS: A Day at the Olympics” to screen her documentary, MEDAL-HEADS, and play Olympics trivia this Sunday, February 16th at Videology in Brooklyn. She also blogs irregularly on sports and the Games on her blog Medal-Heads (there’s also a Tumblr and a Twitter, @Medal_Heads). Psst…if you follow any of those, you’ll have a better chance at trivia.
Sulagna Misra writes about the weird things that pop into her head when she's not paying attention. She's on Twitter so she can not pay attention more effectively.