The Olympics are leading global events that involve summer and winter games, where many athletes and spectators from all over the world take part in various competitions in a bid to attain the glory of taking home a medal. They are highly anticipated events that attract a lot of media and expert scrutiny who analyze them as they take place. According to Peres (2016), the first Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Greece in Athens. Over time, these games have grown in capacity and have even accommodated women to undertake part in them unlike in the past. The games instill heroism and national pride to the countries involved as well as invoking national unity, elite athleticism and most importantly peace among various nations.
These winter and summer Olympic Games are held every four years during winter and summer seasons, respectively. A case in study is the London 2012 Summer Olympics, which was held in London starting from 27 July and concluded on 12 August 2012. Development of transport, infrastructure, and mass media made the games accessible to people around the world, making them more famous as the greatest events in sports competition
The role played by these games in enhancing unity at the local and international level cannot be underestimated. Unity is a vital aspect of knitting the public together within communities in different countries. Individuals come into small groups and their own identities in support of the ongoing events. This can be illustrated where people attend a common sports bar on a regular basis to spectate or learn about an ongoing sport like Football or Marathon and thus develop an identity out of it. They may certainly not know each other’s name, but with time, they gain an identity due to the passion for the sport, which may go along into enhancing their social and economic interactions, thereby bringing forth peace and significant developments into their lives.
The London 2012 games have a profound social, economic, and cultural impact on the host city communities implicated. The games are an indispensable source of revenue through ticketing, hospitality, worldwide marketing, TV broadcasting sponsorships, and other businesses Based on Gold (2015), by London hosting these competitions, temporary jobs were created. About 46,000 people worked on the Olympic Park and Olympic Village during the event. New hotel rooms to accommodate tourists, were created that employed many individuals. These games lay a platform for a smaller city to make a name for them, thereby drawing the eye of big business leaders to the city. Determining an Olympic games’ success or failure trickles down to its “legacy,” a concept developed by a body of academics that deals with the Olympics. Legacy entails the game’s long-term planned and unplanned, economic, political, social, cultural, infrastructural, and environmental impacts on the region. The overseen beneficial legacy outcomes in the London games included urban renewal, expanded tourism, and employment sector, enhanced city name and reputation as well as improved people’s welfare.
In Gratton (2017), the IOC (2013a) requires that for a city to host the Olympics, it must be substantially large enough to handle the multiple visitors and sporting facilities. The massive constructions such as stadiums, buildings, and businesses arose to support the influx of both local and international tourists and spectators. The International Olympic Committee necessitates a host city for the Summer Games to have a minimum of 40,000 hotel rooms at hand for spectators and an Olympic Village that can house 15,000 athletes and officials, Baade & Matheson (2016). This not only added to the list of income sources in the city but also meant that the recreated facilities made it easier to host more local and international sports in the future. The transport sector was highly renewed. This includes the creation of new bus transit schemes, existing underground lines, and stations as well as an upgrade to the trains and National Rail Services that were in use at the time. In fact, a report commissioned by the UK government showed that the construction schemes for London 2012 gave London £7.3 billion boosts.
However, despite the sunny side of this, there are drawbacks that come with it. For example, people may be forced to relocate their housing hence move their homes during land acquisition for such projects. This may also call for environmental to accommodate the new structures. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the mandated body where the cities involved submit bids to hold these games. This bidding in itself already costs a million dollars. As a result, the host communities end up falling in huge debts, which in turn compromises the economy of those cities. In addition to this, after the event, the low-income residents may greatly suffer an increased cost of goods and services. This majorly happens to balance the costs incurred in facilitating the games.
Whether or not the Olympic Games are beneficial or problematic to the host city communities remains a point of discussion. However, by a careful analyzation of the factors at hand, it has been deemed to be more problematic than beneficial for labor in the host city. Based on Henry (2016), the Olympic legacy has failed in the creation of jobs in London . Despite the government’s promise that 20,000 Olympics jobs would go to residents of the host city, only less than half actually did. That was around 9,700. This happened in a time where for the youths and middle age groups living in East London, the main concern remains jobs. It was believed that the 2012 employment legacy project, with cost amounting to £4.5m, would provide the jobless locals with jobs after the Games. However, the government’s failed economic strategy resulted in inadequate preparations to owe up to the legacy.
It is logical, therefore, to say that the Olympic Games could stimulate a depressed part of the host city. The IOC tends to favor the bidder city with an obvious lavish offer of gleaming infrastructures, stadiums, and airport improvements. The city that finally wins happens to be the one which overestimated the value of accommodating the Olympics the most, i.e. that which run further overboard in the bid. After the Olympics have been assigned, the host city spends billions of money on preparations for the main event, such as athletic facilities like swimming pools, stadiums, and getting ready for the required equipment. While investment in the hospitality and tourism sector normally has long term dividends even after the games are over, heaving spending to meet a 2 week peak demand period can be followed by a serious oversupply in the months or even year preceding the Olympic event.
The Olympic Games, as currently conducted, are not economically favorable for most cities. In fact, they have come to a tipping point where the many potential host nations and have come to the realization that hosting is more likely to result in draining rather than enhancing financial resources. This is the case mainly because of the heavy costs incurred on venues to host the events. In addition to this, the monopoly status quo that flows to the leading body, the International Olympic Committee, poor management of public funds, and the corruption that goes along with it all discourage the idea of hosting such events. This, in turn, results in an overall negative impact on the labor of communities of cities that host the games without first analyzing the likely outcomes.
Baade Matheson (2016) state that due to such instances, there emerged some agendas such as the Olympic Agenda 2020, which was unanimously delivered at the IOC’s 127th Session in Monaco in 2014, that outlined 40 recommendations for reform, majority of which encouraged increased economic sustainability for host cities. The recommendations provided a number of solutions to the menace standing in the way of economic viability regarding the Olympic Games. A number of them include: shape the bidding process as an invitation, evaluate bid cities by assessing key opportunities and risks first before assigning the Olympic Games, reduce the humongous cost of bidding by a considerable amount, include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games and reduce the cost and reinforce the flexibility of Olympic Games management.
The problem of the unique sports facilities costs can be solved by choosing one or a few permanent regions for hosting the Olympic Games. The original home of the Olympics in Greece is commonly suggested. Another way to this could be, the IOC could designate, at list four Summer Olympic and two Winter Olympic venues in the world that would rotate the staging duties. Another alternative would be for IOC to award two successive Games to the same host so that the created facilities could at least be used twice, thus reducing the heavy cost that could be incurred if a new city or nation were to host. By doing this, it would make the resultant effects of the Olympic Games being positive, which would then positively impact the labor of communities residing in these host cities.
However, the main impact that normally arises from the hosting of the Olympic Games is that after the events and ceremonies are over, there normally results in facilities and venues that do not have sufficient use anymore. By this, I mean that Host Cities normally have the problem of having derelict facilities that sometimes are too specialized to be converted into facilities that can serve multiple purposes. This leaves them of little to no use to the community that is supposed to benefit from these facilities. As a result, these facilities result to be facilities that use way too many resources or money for their upkeep with little to no revenue being generated as a result. This normally then leaves the government or local authorities with the dilemma of whether these facilities are even worth the money being spent on them for the upkeep. In most of the previous ghost cities, the government normally decides that it is not worth the hustle because the limited resources of money required are not enough to sufficiently cover these facilities, as well as meet the demands of other needs that local governments and authorities need to address.
In the case of the London Olympic Park in East London, there resulted in facilities that, in some sort of way, did not serve any purpose to the communities after the Olympic Games were over. The local Authorities were smart about this issue. What they did is, they converted some of these facilities into things that would better serve the community and address issues more specific to the needs of London as a city. The London Stadium was converted into a Premier League football Stadium for West Ham United. Some of the arenas have also been converted into Concert Hall Stadiums, where events take place.
The London Park, where the games and the Olympic Village were situated, has also been converted into a recreational park and residential area, respectively. Nowadays, it is common to see Londoners having their morning jog or run in this area. As for the Olympic village, it was built in such a way that it could easily be converted into a residential area after the games were over. This is what happened, and there are even plans to expand the residential units in that area, and this will go a long way in addressing the issue of housing problems especially in East London. In my own objective view, the city of London, at least, tried to fix the problem that normally arises with most host cities of having derelict useless facilities.
Another scenario that can be looked at is that of the city of Beijing. In its approach to solve this issue , It constructed facilities that were soon brought down after the Olympic Games were over. This approach, however, is particularly wasteful especially from an Economics point of view. However, from the city of Beijing’s own perspective, it would be more wasteful for that land and facilities to remain idle, derelict and unused. Land and Space in the sprawling metropolis of Beijing are at a premium, and the opportunity cost associated with such land and facilities cannot allow for any space to remain idle.
There are some professionals and scholars of the opinion that the Olympic Games and events have their own advantage of bringing hype and attention to a city and showcasing it to viewers and people around the world. This, they say, normally results in tourists and investors flowing into the city even after the games are done thus increasing the investments from investors and even more investment opportunities. This effect will result in even jobs being created for the locals living in that area. Also, revenues from the tourism of the said city after the games are done also rises to a considerable level. However, the main issue that is normally brought up even with scholars and policymakers around the world is if these benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
In most of the cases, the answer to that question is normally no. The first reason this is the case is that it is way harder to actually calculate and quantify the foreign direct investments and tourism funds that arise from these advantages of previously being a host city. Also, some of these cities normally lose their allure and attractiveness after the games are done. So it would wrong to say that the city can bank on its previous reputation to be attractive to investors and tourists alike.
There is, however a correlation between cities that are able to turn things around after the games are done and the size and importance of a city. Cities like Beijing and London have been able to turn things around. One of the main reasons for this is that these cities were already established and had key roles to play even before the games had been held. As a result, even after the games were done, local officials and policymakers alike were able to steer the city in a direction inclined to its objectives in relation to the facilities left after the games were concluded. Also, in the planning of these events and facilities, the organizers planned for these games and in hindsight, were equally concerned about their use post-Olympic games. This was a key reason behind their success.
There is also a major correlation between cities like Rio and Athens and why they failed in the management of these facilities post the games. One of the main reasons why these cities failed was because, first and foremost, they did not plan what they were going to do with these facilities after the games were done and dusted. They were too concerned with the actual planning of the Olympic Games that they weren’t concerned with what was going to happen after the games were concluded. As a result, some of these facilities have been left in a completely derelict state. Some facilities in Rio have even been converted into a bus park. This just shows how bad the situation is. During and after the games, there were protests in Rio about the actual state of the city and how billions of dollars were being spent on games and facilities that weren’t impacting the locals directly.
It is spending millions, if not billions on these events, also raises the eyebrows of various people especially those who are residents and have a direct connection with the city. This is because, in most cases, cities normally have needs and solutions that normally need to be addressed and solved. Most of these problems normally affect the everyday life of a city resident. So in most cases, it normally seems senseless to be spending these vast amounts of money on projects such as the Olympics. Money is a scarce resource, and it should be spent appropriately, and to most city residents, it should be spent on things that will actually make their lives better.
There is, however some bright spots that come as a result of a city hosting an Olympic game. One of them is that the transport infrastructure in and around the city vastly improves even after the Olympic Games are concluded. This is an area that is bound to improve as a result of hosting the Olympic event. This is because the transport facilities normally need to be improved and upgraded so that they can be able to accommodate the huge number of people who flock the city in the duration of those games. It normally leads to better infrastructure that even helps the city residents even after the games are over.
[bookmark: _heading=h.gjdgxs] As I conclude, I would like to state that most of the cities that host these games are left with more burden to bear than the actual benefit that arises from the hosting of these games. It is hard to quantify the economic and financial benefits that arise, but the social, financial costs are normally a bit too high. Maybe it is up to the Olympic committee to find ways of making hosting these events to be more attractive even to the host cities. They can do this by financial incentives, spreading the hosting duties across several cities in different countries, and even increase the awareness of the sports being held in these games. Increased awareness would lead even to better financial outcomes from these events.
- Peres, F. D. F., de Melo, V. A., & Knijnik, J. (2016). Olympics, media and politics: the first Olympic ideas in Brazilian society during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 33(12), 1380-1394.
- Gratton, C., & Ramchandani, G. (2017). 7 Economic legacy to cities of hosting major sports events. Legacies and Mega Events: Fact or Fairy Tales?.
- Henry, I. (2016). The meta-evaluation of the sports participation impact and legacy of the London 2012 Games: Methodological implications. Journal of Global Sport Management, 1(1-2), 19-33.
- Baade, R. A., & Matheson, V. A. (2016). Going for the Gold: The economics of the Olympics. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(2), 201-18.
- Gold, J. R., & Gold, M. M. (2015, March). Sustainability, legacy and the 2012 London Games. In Routledge handbook of sport and legacy: Meeting the challenge of major sports events (p. 142). Routledge.