Several new parks across the country set to help promote upcoming Olympics, but critics say its political
By BOHEMIST STAFF
PRAGUE – Following the success of the Letná Olympic park built as a promotional tool to support Czech’s in the Sochi Olympics in 2014, several towns around the country are preparing to up the stakes with the nearing completion of parks ahead of this summer’s Rio de Janiero Olympics.
With legislative elections just around the corner, taxpayers have generously agreed to spent over 100 million Kč for new Olympic parks in South Bohemia, Ostrava, North Moravia, Plzen, West Bohemia, Pardubice and Lipno, which is the most noticeable of the lot.
Built along a reservoir on the banks of the Vltava River, the Lipno project was approved by the government in December and is expected to cost a total 65 million Kč. It will include several areas to try land and water sports, while crowds expected in the hundreds of thousands can take in live announcements from the ongoing games in Rio. The new Rio-Lipno park, along with the others are all expected to open on Friday at 4:00pm, just in time for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
“It is a huge opportunity not only for the Lipno area, but for the whole region of South Bohemia,” the mayor Loučovice, Jan Kubík, was quoted as saying when the deal was signed in December.
“We have been known as an industrial area and after the collapse of the local paper mill, we were looking for new opportunities. We believe that tourism is our only option.”
The 2014 version at Letná Park in the center of Prague during the Sochi Winter Olympics received wide praise and was visited by some 40,000 people. According to the organizers’ estimates, the Olympic park at Lipno could be visited by some 250,000 to 300,000 people.
Still, despite the seemingly innocuous gesture on the part of the Czech government, several commentators in the media could not help but point out that the inflated spending comes with elections coming next year. Politicians have dismissed the backhanded remarks.
“Your readers are certainly able to calculate how many times the investments will return to the local economy. I am proud of this and I am credited for this,” social democratic regional government of Southern Bohemia Jiří Zimola told Hospodářské noviny.
“If you see any political campaign behind this, it is just your problem,” he added.
Among the project’s other critics are environmentalists, who believe the construction to be damaging to the area. They have called for a boycott of the park.