For Olympic host cities, wins and losses last forever
On a field of dirt, about a hundred octagonal white tents are lined up in neat rows. They’re weather-beaten and coated with dust, but the logo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees still peeks through on their fabric rooftops, revealing their purpose. Like many refugee camps set up in recent years, this one is a mix of desperation and inactivity. Unlike most others, it’s surrounded by stadium seating.
Economists agree: the Olympics are bad for cities. There's an obvious solution.
On Saturday, the International Olympic Committee will change the destiny of one city forever. Yes, tomorrow's the big day when committee members will decide whether Istanbul, Madrid, or Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. For the chosen city, it's a decision that could catalyze transformative infrastructure projects and long-term investment.
Of course, more likely, it will shackle the host city with cost overruns, underused venues and displaced and disaffected citizens.
In two years the world’s biggest event on water will take place in San Francisco. But, like many other mega-sporting events, the 34th America’s Cup is expected to have no small impact on land.
With an expected draw of hundreds of thousands of spectators, San Francisco is already contemplating plans to capitalize on the crowds and prestige of the America’s Cup. While it’s no Olympics or World Cup in terms of scope, the event does present the city with an opportunity to bring about long-term changes. San Francisco was named as the host of the event on December 31, and its plans – both short- and long-term – are already unfolding.
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Two major international decisions are being made today: which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The selected hosts will undoubtedly celebrate their victories, and look forward to the soft and hard benefits of hosting this most watched of sporting events. The host countries should also take care to prepare for negative impacts – short- and long-term effects that play out in physical, social and economic ways. Who gets selected is surely important in some ways, but when considering these mega-events in terms of their potential impact on the places in which they're held, who hosts the World Cup doesn't really matter.
It should, though. But because of the minimal requirements made of the cities hosting World Cup matches, how cities prepare for the event is hardly a concern to FIFA, soccer's international governing body. Whether hosting the World Cup makes a city exponentially better or terrifyingly less efficient is irrelevant to FIFA, based on how it guides the cities intending to host this event. The long-term impact of the event is hardly considered, and its potential to create the sort of vast civic improvement projects often resulting from such international event hosting is ignored.