The Olympic Games brings more problems than benefits to the host country
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The Olympic Games has become an international multi-sports event held every four years in different cities throughout the world (Answers, 2006, Internet). According to the Olympic charter, the goals of the Games are to encourage peace, harmony and to enhance a better world through sports among countries (McGeoch & Korporaal, 1994, 7). However, its economic and social impacts are also the prime concerns. This essay will focus on the benefits as well as the problems that staging the Games bring to that host country. The advantages are firstly about the enhancements of infrastructure, secondly are the potential of greater economic growth, and finally are the tremendous improvement in the national identity. On the other hand, the most serious problem faced by those countries is the massive cost of operating as well as maintaining the venues. Another disadvantage is the threat of terrorism.
First and foremost, a number of studies have shown that any city bidding for the Olympic Games is normally benefited with better infrastructure including new transport systems, latest media and communication’s equipments and high standard sport facilities. For example, according to Gerlin, Sydney, where the Summer Games 2000 was organised, has been left with an expanded airport, a large number of main roads upgraded, and especially new and high standard sport facilities including the gigantic Telstra Stadium ( 2005, 54). Besides, the Games usually gives the host city an incentive to transform itself that otherwise might never have been attempted (Burton, 2003, Internet). This may be illustrated by the Barcelona 1992 Games. Gerlin mentioned that before bidding for the Games, insufficient road access, airport and coastline was what this city tackled. However, the Games created opportunity for Barcelona to be financed with ambitious projects. As a result, after the Olympics, Barcelona received a noticeable new appearance such as new seafront, underground roads, and become one of the most favourite tourist destinations in Europe ( 2005, 52, 53).
The second advantage is the increasing ability to obtain greater economic growth. There is little doubt that bidding cities often attract millions of tourists as well as ambitious projects of foreign investments. For example, the report of PriceWaterhouse Coopers about the business and economic benefits of the Sydney 2000 informed that the Games helped NSW earn $3 billion in business outcomes, over $6 billion from tourists spending during 2001, received more than $6 billion of investments and so on (New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development, year unknown, Internet). Such changes may create more job opportunities, increase business income, raise Government budget and encourage economic activities. In support, those benefits mentioned above may be the reason why Barcelona experienced such a significant growth that doubled every year from 1986 to 1991 (Preuss, 2004, 65).
Finally, bidding for the Games is an extreme opportunity for any city and country to enhance its national pride and image due to its increases in international exposures, found out by the KPMG Peat Marwick studies (Toohey & Veal, 2000, 209). Concurrently, Preuss proved that the Games is the quickest and most effective way to show the major changes in the hosting country to the world economy. For instance, South Korea was able to replace the image of a developing country by a modern and high technology industry thanks to staging the Olympics. Another important example is the case of the Sydney Olympics 2000. Young and Rubican found that before the Games, foreigners often considered Australia as country of great source of raw material. However, after the Olympics, the image of Australia has been changed in to a “friendly, fun and trust worthy” tourist destination (Preuss, 2004, 20, 48). It should be noticed that those increases in the world’s level of awareness about the host country are really important, because not only do they attract a vast number of future tourists but also bring more foreign investments to that economy.
However, cost overrun, large operating and maintaining budget are the most concerning issue bringing troubles to the host country, stressed by Burton (2003, Internet). Take the case of the Summer Olympic Games 2004 in Athens, Greece, the total expenditure was so enormous that Gerlin emphasised, it even exceeded the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of more than 100 countries. It is also necessary to note that many of its venues built for the Games are now bringing nothing but the heavy burden of maintenance to the Government budget, accounting for $100 million per year ( 2005, 51). Another noticeable example occurred in the Montreal Games 1976, PriceWaterhouse Coopers’ report pointed out that the Government invested such a huge amount of money that the Montreal’s tax payers have been paying a supplementary tax on every packet of cigarettes purchased for 20 years in order to cover the extensive deficit (Abrams, 2004, 28). Moreover, Burton argued that around the last 23 years, many of the host cities, even Sydney, could not earn enough profits to cover the huge costs of staging the Olympics (2003, Internet). Furthermore, Malanga is even convinced that most of the positive economic impacts seem to be disappeared in the long term (Abrams, 2004, 28).
The risk of terrorism is another rival to the Olympic Games although it does not happen frequently. Eisen, an expert in international terrorism, observed that the Olympics is a prime target for terrorists. He pointed out that the Games is where the terrorists are likely to maximize their goals since it attracts a numerous number of people and audiences ( Spangler, 2001, Internet) .Thus, if any terrorism occurs, it is possible that the losses can be too serious to be compensated by any social or economic benefits. To demonstrate, the first Olympic terrorism happened was the Munich Olympics 1972 which resulted in the death of 11 Israeli abducted athletes, a police man and five Palestine terrorists. The consequence was so disastrous that the “Olympic of joy and peace” became the “Olympic of terror” (One day in September, Video recording, 2000). Since that event and together with the 11 September 2001 attack, the Olympic terrorism’s risk has become the prime concern. Moreover, it cannot be said for sure that the threat of terrorism can be prevented completely despite the extremely high degree of security applied by the host cities.
In conclusion, on the one hand, the Olympic Games is a great opportunity for the bidding country to upgrade its infrastructure, increase sponsor investments and invite vast number of tourists. Subsequently, the nation is more likely to obtain high level of economic growth. Meanwhile, the Olympics effectively assists the host city in enhancing its image, this may also attract much more foreign investments as well as future tourists. On the other hand, it often causes a wide range of troubles to the bidding country, including the possible huge national debts resulted from the massive spending to stage the Games and the threat of terrorism. Although benefits brought by the Olympic Games seem to outweigh the problems due to its great social and economic positive impacts, any country that has the intention to stage the Games should consider carefully its ability and limitations in order not to be affected badly.
Abrams, S.L. (2004) ‘Greece: A downgrade after the Olympics?’ IDD August 16th
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New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development (year unknown) ‘Business and economic benefits of the Sydney 2000 Olympics: a collation of evidence’
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