Sports have always been an integral part of human lifestyle. The Olympics today is no longer exclusive to the Greeks alone after their revival in the 20th century. Today major sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup are being held around the world. Hence to accommodate international athletes, such sporting events have to be organized in large cities having state-of-art facilities. Hosting sports events certainly benefits the host nations which is evident by the intense bidding to bag the rights to host one.
Major sporting events bring more to a city than fan excitement. In addition to the thrills of game action, these events funnel millions of dollars into the host nation primarily through spending by the international spectators and investments by foreign firms seeking to expand their markets. Major sports events are often seen as a source of economic generation though there are definitely costs associated with hosting large scale sports events. Hosting sports events stimulates regeneration, investment and long-term benefits.
Developing infrastructure required for such events act as a catalyst for the development of hosting nations. For example, major sporting events usually require upgrades to transport and communication links. This investment leaves a lasting legacy for the whole economy. Better transport links reduce congestion and helps to improve efficiency for local business. It may be argued that the money spent on these projects would be much better off used to build affordable homes and transport infrastructure which is designed with local residents in mind.
Moreover many of the sporting arenas may never be used in the future incurring high maintenance costs without any revenue being generated after the event. However this need not be the case with every event as better management sense dictates that the games village built to accommodate the athletes could be converted into low-cost government housing for the lower income groups unable to afford a private house. This will result in the better management of scarce resources while generating revenue for the government in addition to the utilisation of the land.
For instance after the upcoming London Olympics, the UK government plans to hand-over about 15,000 of such units to the public. Besides the stadiums can be used to promote sports culture among the youth as good facilities will encourage more to embrace sports. Hence in view of the development of infrastructure resulting into growth of the nation, hosting sporting events continue to bring benefits even after their culmination. Hosting major sporting events like the Olympics or the World Cup attracts millions of people for the month of the duration. These foreign tourists bring a boost to the local economy.
In particular the local tourist trade, shops and hotels will benefit from the surge in visitor numbers. However, it is worth noting that these visitor numbers tend to be temporary. The major sporting event only lasts for a few weeks; potentially there could be many empty hotel beds in the future. Moreover businesses not directly involved may face disruption in their daily activities due to overcrowding and increased security measures. On the other hand people argue a major sporting event can lead to a long term growth in visitor numbers as the whole world follows such events.
For example China has seen a surge in visitors after the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Barcelona continues to attract increased number of tourists after the Barcelona Olympics primarily due to the overhaul of the port and coast of the city creating an artificial beach and waterside cultural area that has since become a lasting tourist attraction. Hence even though hosting sports events involve huge costs, the long term benefits such as increased tourism ultimately brings benefits for the nation. Typically hosting a major sports event requires preparations for the nation up to 4 or more years in advance.
This creates job and higher income opportunities for the locals much before the actual event starts. These extra jobs help create a positive multiplier effect amongst the local economy. Arguably such events benefit only the host city with the rest of the nation being neglected as most of the funds are channelled into the host city. Moreover the host city is likely to be highly developed in comparison to other cities in order to win the sporting bid creating a scenario where growth and development are concentrated where it is least needed.
Though the spill over benefits enjoyed by neighbouring areas cannot be completely ignored, there is always disproportionate distribution of funds associated when capital cities are chosen to host the events. Hence it becomes unfair for the country’s taxpayers to pay increased taxes for something they are not going to benefit from directly. Therefore it can be conceded that hosting major sports events which often results in additional taxes to finance it may not prove to be beneficial to every taxpayer.
As mentioned earlier sports events are often concentrated around a few major cities with the majority of the population left in the lurch. However this does not imply that there is no impact on the whole nation. Having captured the imagination of the whole nation, there is an increased promotion of sports among them which eventually benefit the entire population. There is excitement and awareness about different sports played around the world and many people send their children to learn such sports in the various training camps set up. The lasting impact of this will be a generation of young people who are excited about sports.
Given rising levels of childhood obesity and declining interest in sport in schools, this can only be a good thing. The cost of hosting a major sporting event has increased significantly in recent years due to heightened security measures besides the high levels of investment required. It is hard to meet these costs running into billions through sponsorship and ticket sales alone. However most governments are ready to incur some losses as hosting major sports events for many nations is a matter of prestige and a showcase of their economic prowess.
The games have become political instruments to demonstrate a point due to the intense media coverage. The 1988 Seoul Olympics were used to demonstrate South Korea’s economic and political maturity and the recent Beijing Olympics is seen by many as evidence of China’s acceptance into the global community especially by the West and a platform to demonstrate her economic might. Even though the sporting events are unable to make immediate direct profits, they showcase the host nation to the world and for many developing countries as a sign that it had arrived on the world stage.
Hence such events can work wonders for a country’s international image and stimulate investment for local businesses. Hosting world sports events is a very prestigious affair today and all nations look forward to be able to host one, be it developed or less developed. Beside the many economic benefits brought about through such events such as development of better infrastructure, influx of foreign visitors, job creation and higher levels of growth, there is also an opportunity to improve the nation’s image in the eyes of the world after a successful event.
Though there are always costs associated with these large scale events such as high expenses being funded through the taxpayer’s money, newly developed facilities being left unused and increased security measures in view of terrorist threats, these events provide a one-time opportunity for host nations to showcase itself to the world on such a huge scale. Therefore disadvantages aside, hosting major sports events certainly have their share of benefits for the host nations.