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.

Must Read! “Mega-Events as a Response to Poverty Reduction”

Mega-Events as a Response to Poverty Reduction: The 2010 FIFA World Cup and its Urban Development Implications (Pillay and Bass-2008). Click here to read article.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup presented South Africa with a unique opportunity to fast-track the urban development impetus.”

The article argues that it is critically important that cities modulate and revise a city’s pre-existing set of development strategies to align with the development imperatives outlined in the bid book as these “…give renewed expression to a holistically grounded set of urban renewal and regeneration plans.”

The article provides very applicable and unique elements to the topics of bid losers, pre-existent development plans, the importance of consensus and communication among key players (Local Organizing Committee, regional authorities, private sector players, construction industries, engineers). The article illustrates the significance of a long term vision in creating a positive legacy and avoiding the centralization of any benefits. Further the piece broadens analysis to all past mega-events (mentioning Sydney, Barcelona, Atlanta, Lillehammer, Beijing, Montreal). Most importantly, the article cites Cape Town’s failed bid in reference to South Africa World Cup prep process and indicates that there were “lessons learned” from the failed bid.

In the case of South Africa’s World Cup bid, “a very comprehensive and well-grounded bid plan thus emerged which, in essence, laid the foundation for a truly meaningful development agenda.” The authors stress that a blueprint and bid must be WELL-GROUNDED and comprehensive. “The 2010 FIFA World Cup presented South Africa with a unique opportunity to fast-track the urban development impetus.” The article indicates that it is critically important that cities modulate and revise the pre-existing set of development strategies to align with the development imperatives outlined in the bid book as these “…give renewed expression to a holistically grounded set of urban renewal and regeneration plans.” South Africa presented the complexity of multi-city cooperation and competition and the article goes in depth about this challenge.