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Do you think mega-sports events such as the Olympics are good for the host city’s economy and infrastructure in the long run?

31 Comments
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The bottom line is, every time we’ve looked — dozens of scholars, dozens of times — we find no real change in economic activity

That's a quote from an article in the New York Times Magazine

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The correct answer is: it depends. It depends on whether the city will use this infrastructure in order to attract more tourists or improve the quality of living of its citizens or, on the opposite, let it rot or demolish. In my country, Greece, many of the sports venues were abandoned leaving behind urban ghosts. On the other hand though, the city of Athens was definitely improved due to the infrastructure that accompanied the 2004 Olympics. The rapid expansion of the subway system, the Attiki Odos - a new highway connecting the center with the new Airport, etc were undeniably beneficial to the city and helped for the rise of tourism overall.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sometimes, but not usually.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-08/economic-myth-olympic-proportions

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If we look back at recent Olympics, there are few. I can only think of Barcelona, in which benefits did take place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only Barcelona and Seoul have benefited from an Olympics , Sydney broke even. Many lost $billions like Athens and Sochi

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Montreal's accounts blew out in 1976, but from what i have heard the state paid out a lot.

That is what happens though, the state ends up paying something and at the same time de facto hijacking the Olympics for their own public image. One exception is Los Angeles which it seems was the first city to invite sponsors for everything thereby making a profit. Also, it was left alone as a city to the extent that politically it was not expedient for the US to make a big deal about it all given Soviet-led boycott in so-called payback for the US-led Moscow boycott. Atlanta 12 years later was a bit more of a bells-and-whistles red-white-and-blue affair, and to my knowledge it was not as financially spectacular as Los Angeles had been.

In Sydney the Olympics spurred one unheard of infrastructural development, a train line to the airport (only people who have lived in Sydney would understand).

However, the biggest leftover of any Olympics is the sports facilities, accommodations and so on. Local governments get stuck with them, and it is up to them to utilise or make money from as they can. Tokyo for better or worse, with 1964 still in popular memory, has all this on its mind

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only Barcelona and Seoul have benefited from an Olympics , Sydney broke even. Many lost $billions like Athens and Sochi

Sapporo benefited from getting a subway system, although we would have gotten one anyway. And we're still paying for the dumb decision to use cars on rubber wheels, rather than a rail subway system.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Go ask the Greeks.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Osaka still has useless rowing facilities, etc. If the old facilities cannot be used without a minimum cost for improvements (25%?), don't bid for the Olympics or Expos.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As Antonios_M said, it depends.

The people of Athens and Rio would probably say no. London was maybe economically neutral, but sporting wise I think 2012 was a huge success. Beijing was more a political games for the Chinese in the sense that they were able to show their financial power to the world, and possibly connect more with the west.

Personally I think the IOC with the cooperation of its national members should build and maintain permanent Olympic infrastructure in Greece, and the Olympics should be held there every time. You could still have different countries or continents 'organizing' different elements of the Olympics each time, in order to spread the cost and the responsibility and make it genuinely an international event - e.g. 2024: a European / Greek opening ceremony, a North American / USA swimming pool, an Asian / Japanese indoor arena for Judo etc.

Such an approach would get rid of the corruptible and unnecessarily expensive bidding process. It would give opportunities to those countries, who would otherwise never get the opportunity to host the Olympics themselves, to get involved in planning and 'theming' an aspect of the games. It would mean all money could go towards maintaining and upgrading 5 or 6 stadia instead of building from scratch every 4 years.

2012 in London was an amazing games, but ultimately I think the Olympics should be held in Greece with the financial support of every country that wants to participate.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It totally depends on the city and where it is transit wise BEFORE. Vancouver as an example ended up FINALLY building a fixed rail line from the airport to downtown and they said it would take decades to ever reach capacity. It has almost reached its maximum capacity of 30 two car trainsets and after that they'll be screwed. The 99 Sea to Ski highway was FINALLY widened and more safety measures put in place but it appears that they could have done more. Both those examples would never have been done had it not been part of the Olympics bid promise.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Considering the the IOC appears to be as corrupt as the World Cup crew and that you'd basically have to be pretty adept at greasing the right palms just to get a bid let alone winning.... and that if your country did win to become Host it might only prove how corrupt and willing you are to play the game.... I'd say No... Not worth it. If we take away all the corruption... I'd give it a big Yes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Beijing 2008 was already a sign of trouble. It's too large a scale, too much security required, and too much cashola flowing around to bother with anymore. PamAm scale is fine, but no larger.

When major democracies have abandoned bids, only the despotic regimes remain bidding. And Japan. It would seem to be on a checklist to include corruption and propaganda for a shallow leader, nothing to do with sport

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics were a major success. The bid was not Govt sponsored but put forth by a private business group in L.A. L.A. is already full of College and Professional stadiums.... the actual bidding group built no new structures. However a couple of private companies did and those are still in use today. U.S. Cities like Miami, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, New York, and more... all already have mostly sufficient facilities especially if you use college facilities including Dorms to house athletes. The U.S. could easily host the Olympics in 10 Different cities without the need for major investment. The problem is... when the Govt gets involved... politicians see it as a major opportunity for graft and lining everyone's pockets.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rio will never recover. Other cities are better equipped to deal with the aftermath, but that is still always debt.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One of my dads friends has a large car hire business in Weymouth, England. When they hosted the Olympic sailing there in 2012 he didn't even get an enquiry from the organisers for fleet cars, they used a multinational company. He told my dad that he could have given them a cheaper price had they bothered to enquire.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Olympics are not about the local city oddly enough. It's like a Sumerian god plopped down in a city (Ghostbusters 1984). For the benefit of the IOC and friends. The only Olympics successful were from the 80's or had the amenities already.

Even Norway and other countries are not making proposals due to the negative cost analysis that is finally breaking through the Olympics blindfolds.

As it currently stands only desperate countries or despotic regimes want the Olympics merely because they have no idea what the long term costs are or have no financial accountability of their own. They want the vanity project and that's all they can see

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The only cities that win during the selection process are the ones that lose out on hosting an Olympics.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Within the context of this poll question, hosting the olympics is an economic tool just like how QE or fighting wars are.

Like with any tool of this sort, you can't just use it anytime you want and hope for good effects. Both the global and domestic economies need to be at a specific point on their respective cycles for such events to bring about the economic benefits that are associated with hosting them.

The difficulty with matching the timing to the sweet spot lies in how the olympics needs to be bid for, and hosted several years down the road - by which time the situation may drastically change.

So "if all the stars align" events like the olympics can be great, but the possibility of it backfiring is much greater IMO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It varies from place to place, and the amount of corruption the host city finds acceptable. In places where corruption is less acceptable, the Olympics can be profitable, and the long term effect positive. In places were corruption is more acceptable, the Olympics are always a money-losing event, and sometimes catastrophically so.

We need to make the Olympics an amateur event again, and remove the influence of the billions of dollars in money which fuels greed and corruption. For most of it's history, the Olympics was an amateur event, and was truly about sport and competition. Now it is only entertainment, it has become NASCAR, without the cars. Athletes's tweets must mention their sponsors, they must make sure that "Nike", "Mizuno", or other trademarks are always visible, and they are banned from wearing, using, eating, or drinking anything which is not provided by an official (money paying) sponsor. This is ludicrous, and it has to stop. Until it does, I don't care to watch the Olympics.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It all depends on how well it is managed by the city bureaucracy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Send them back to Athens. Something like 21 out of 22 venues are rotting in the rain while the IOC demands more cities to follow. That's outright fraud.

Better to keep them at a city until they at least make back all their costs. That way you can still move it around later but probably 8 years not every 4 years. After which if the venue is still in the red, the IOC can be held to account, and sued for the remainder.

IOC needs to be replaced and ideally put on the hook for overruns

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Send them back to Athens. Something like 21 out of 22 venues are rotting in the rain while the IOC demands more cities to follow. That's outright fraud.

And the 17 billion dollars or so lost hosting the games eventually led to Greece's debt crisis, and this crisis has spread into Europe, at the cost of a great many European taxpayers.

But the Olympics has always been about fraud. Back in the days when the costs were lower, the fraud was as well. But the bigger it has gotten, and the more money which has flowed in, the worse things have become. Notice that we no longer hear news about the money paid by the Japan IOC which went to the shell corporation in Singapore? No real news about the burning of all the documents after the Nagano games?

It would be fun if Wikileaks could do an expose on the IOC and the politicians who bribe them. We can't count or Russian hackers, as Russia is one of the worst offenders in this case.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Personally, I think these mega events cost more money than they are worth.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo is the most modern of all cities yet the IOC still see,s the needs for new stadiums and venues. Nearly all the facilities were here. They just need a face lift. No the IOC need all venues Terrorist proof and transport to the front door. I reason Tokyo should not worried about transport. They should have Bike available for all of the 2020 game people involve from competitors to officials.. Bike for tourist should be available for free just a return deposit at all Bike station around Tokyo. Tokyo can easy get away with it by declaring Tokyo a green city for the year of the 2020 games.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is an "outsider"s view!

I think people of the world know very little about the wonderful country that Japan is? I think global events / mega events - surely galvanize the economy and the people alike!! For my country it has done so ! You may say well yours is a developing country! I understand the apprehension of the people of Japan have w.r.t. influx of people from "outside" -but believe me its only going to widen the horizons! Don't you want the rest of the world to know and admire :-

How amazingly your government offices work? How good is your Police? How good is your infrastructure? How well behaved your men are , I stress on the good behavior of men as its a problem in many countries of the world? Women too are very polite... How cool are your vending machines?

Despite all those plus I find it bit strange when many of my colleagues ask me in a rather unsure manner what is my first impression about Japan?

Answer is - 私は日本が好き Watashi wa Nihon ga suki

Come-on you are an amazing country and amazing people , never doubt that!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Olympics games are a strain on resources..Not worth the investment..I believe the games should be held in one location , like Greece ...This would be cost effective , because facilities would always be in place for the next game and so forth...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, I am in Brazil. Bottom line is that Olympics cost money Rio didn't have. Central government had to intervene in the last hour to keep face in front of international media and visitors. Rio Olympics failed years before the event officially started two weeks ago. One of the darkest sides of the "after" are images of hospitals without money for basic needs, like running water and patients lying on the cold floor. IOC, just like FIFA, is already taking measures to downsize venues for future Olympics and quit making absurd demands from hosting cities - like the so criticized velodrome in Rio, a multi-million monster that cost tens of millions of dollars that will be simply dismantled after being used for only 5 days. Scandinavia is completely right about scrapping plans to host Olympics. The event only makes sense if you are a nation that wants to be pinned on a world map - like Seoul in 1988 - and has no worries about spending away tax payers money. Rio, even before the Olympics was bankrupt (days before the event, state civil servants' salaries were four months late), and after it's over will take tens of years to recover. If it even recover.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It also makes sense if you already have most of those sports venues already in use.... there are at least 10 U.S. Cities that could host the Olympics with existing facilities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In the past (1992 and earlier) I might say yes, but too much is spent (i.e. wasted) now to recoup the cost to the taxpayers of the countries. Some businesses benefit, but overall it is a net loss financially (sometimes by a lot!)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the Olympics does is allow regional politicians to feel important on a world stage. That's it.

Is it really worth $500M just to make a mayor feel better?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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