What I found about Olympic Games

Shijie Mao

Thad Niles



What I found about Olympic Games

What is the controversy:

Whether Olympics is beneficial or harmful to host cities or countries?

What are some common opinions and stances?

The benefits host cities can capture from broadcast rights, domestic and international sponsors, ticket sales, and licensing aren’t negligible: Vancouver got $1.58 billion in 2010 and London got $3.27 billion in 2012. Yet they’re dwarfed by the costs of hosting — $7.56 billion for the former and $11.4 billion for the latter.

The paper also finds that other potential benefits don’t come to pass. Unless a city’s unemployment rate is already high, employment from the construction projects that hosting requires doesn’t create any stimulus, and it’s a gamble as to what the job market will look like. Utah predicted the 2002 winter games would generate 35,000 jobs, but just 4,000–7,000 jobs were created during the games and the bump quickly dissipated. That meant the government spent about $300,000 per each job created.

Similar patterns held for other Summer Games, such as those in Los Angeles and Atlanta. “Overwhelmingly…studies show actual economic impacts that are either near-zero or a fraction of that predicted prior to the event,” the authors write. “If one wishes to know the true economic impact of an event, take whatever numbers the promoters are touting and move the decimal point one place to the left.”

What is there disagreement or tension?

When Rio de Janeiro sent in its original bid to host this year’s Summer Olympics, it estimated that it would cost the city just $2.8 billion to build the necessary facilities and infrastructure and make sure the games run smoothly. At the time, the Brazilian economy was booming, creating growth and prosperity for many of its residents. It all may have seemed like a solid investment.

Now Brazil’s fortunes have seriously shifted. The economy is in its worst economic recession since the 1930s. And the cost of hosting the games has ballooned to an extra $4.6 billion in direct costs and may reach $10 billionwith everything taken into account.

Host cities have to spend a lot of money in three major areas: infrastructure like transportation and housing to make room for the influx of enormous crowds, building Olympic-specific venues like swimming pools and running tracks, and operational costs like ticketing and security. The International Olympic Committee requires that host cities have a minimum of 40,000 hotel rooms available, for example, which meant Rio had to build over 15,000 new rooms.

What’s one surprising detail you have observed about the discussion or topic at this early stage in your work?

There are more negative opinions among these discussions in The Medium. People tend to believe that Olympic Games are more harmful to host cities, because of the recent examples such as Greece, and Brazil. So If people talk about Olympic Games, they are more likely to discuss its harms rather than its good influence or benefits.


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