Why Hosting the Olympics is a Bad Idea

As the 2012 Summer Olympics begin in earnest today with the first Women's Soccer games, Andrew Zimbalist offers 3 reasons why "hosting the Olympics is a losers game."

We've heard a great deal recently about why hosting the Olympics could be a boon to efforts to revitalize East London. Zimbalist, however, presents the counter-argument, that except for a few occasions (Barcelona), host cities rarely see long-term economic benefit from hosting the games.

Zimbalist details his three primary reasons why the economic argument for hosting the games is a flimsy one: "(1) The bidding process is hijacked by private interests; (2) It creates massive over-building; (3) There's little evidence that it meaningfully increases tourism."  

For Zimbalist, the problems start a decade before the event itself, as cities compete to outbid each other. "The committee that nominally represents the city really represents itself and bids according to its sense of the private benefit (of its members) versus the private cost, rather than the city's public benefit versus public cost," resulting in overbids.

Although the Olympics can catalyze "long-delayed, needed improvements to the city's infrastructure," Zimbalist argues that, "the environment in which the preparations for the Games takes place is not conducive to rational, effective planning." London's preparations, however, suggest they're ahead of the game in this regard. 

Finally, Zimbalist writes that there is "little evidence" to support the expected long-term benefits to tourism of the hundreds of hours of television exposure.

 

Full Story: 3 Reasons Why Hosting the Olympics Is a Loser's Game

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95