Must Read! “Misjudgment of Olympic Proportions?”

“Predicting the Costs and Benefits of Mega-Sporting Events: Misjudgment of Olympic Proportions?” by Jonathan Barclay. Access article by clicking here.

“Hence it seems that the only way that an event can have a positive lasting effect is if its infrastructure is able to exist symbiotically with that in the surrounding economy, neither competing for nor displacing existing capital and labour.”

This article discusses the false promise that mega-sporting events often represent to developing nations. It affirms that many ex ante predictions are based on methodological errors and these forecasts end up overstating benefits and understating the costs. Opportunity costs also present a unique challenge to forecasting as it is likely that the funding a city uses to prepare for a mega-sporting event would have otherwise been used towards some other public good or service. What is more is that the authors of such studies are often stakeholders who have a vested interest in the event taking place. This presents the following concern that “to some extent the Olympics are self-contained, as many sponsors and corporations are allowed to have access to prime venues within the Olympic Park which local businesses do not.” (Owen, 2005) Still other proponents refer to the intangible benefits such “civic pride” and “restoration of self confidence” that the event promotes as reason enough to host it. Similarly, these events may also serve to bring a city more financial resources, and thus allow it to implement projects, which it would not have received otherwise, as the former Mayor of London has admitted. However, mega-sporting events can be beneficial for host cities under certain circumstances. For example, infrastructural projects that are well integrated into the economy and have a clear legacy value are more likely to have a lasting positive impact. As this topic continues to garner attention and nations continue to spend millions of dollars bidding to hose these events, more research on the impacts will become increasingly necessary, especially coming from diverse sources.

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