The Olympics have become known as the largest mega event in the world. The excitement and preparation for the event is vast. But all too often, after the hype is gone and the finances are observed, cities that host the Olympic games find that the promises made by economists fell flat. Costs soar higher than expected, and positive economic benefit favored specific industries and lasted only briefly. I intend to make an informed argument that hosting the Olympic games is detrimental to the economy of said city, primarily because the costs and income generated from the games are unknown. To show that I have done my research, here are 3 sources on the topic and how I intend to convince my audience of the weight of these issues.
SOURCE 1 : Urban Development through Hosting International Events: A History of the Olympic Games by Brian Chalkley and Stephen Essex.
In this article, Brian Chalkley and Stephen Essex of the Department of Geographical Sciences of the University of Plymouth provide a detailed history of urban development in the host city due to a successful Olympic bid. The history spans 100 years from 1896 to 1996, and the effects the games have on their host city vary. Chalkley and Essex explain that hosting “offers host cities the possibility of ‘fast track’ urban regeneration, a stimulus to economic
growth, improved transport and cultural facilities, and enhanced global recognition and prestige” (369). Certain countries like Italy in 1960 and Japan in 1964 used the Olympics as an excuse to modernize urban infrastructure having a lasting effect on the cities rebuilt (Chalkley 379-380). To paraphrase they also feature examples like Montreal, Canada in 1976 where the city government was left with a huge debt of 1.6 billion Canadian dollars (approx. 1.2 billion US dollars) because of a sudden turn in the economy precisely when the city was awarded the games (Chalkley 384). It is situations like these that will greatly benefit my article.
In order to appeal to my audience logically, I will need to provide data or statistics of Olympic games being detrimental to a community, and Chalkley and Essex provides just that. While they may not have number values to every building constructed, they provide enough data to say whether the was worth it or not. Situations like Montreal above, where forces beyond the planner’s control forced the city into deficit spending, will provide reasonable doubt in the ability of Olympic projects to deliver expected profits. In order to appeal to the ethos of my audience, I will have to play up Chalkley and Essex’s unbiased approach to the topic. Being from the Department of Geographical Sciences of the University of Plymouth puts them in an authoritative stance to speak on urban development, which is exactly what they do in the article. A potential weakness in the article is that Chalkley and Essex are not wholly focused on the economy of the cities involved and much of their conclusion is in favor of hosting the Olympics. To summarize their conclusion, the Olympics provide a great opportunity for change in a city and they attract a crowd that no other event can match, but the needs of the event are unique (a velodrome is a good example) and the Olympics rarely visit the same city twice (Chalkley 389-391). Their last two points, the unique facilities needed for the Olympics and the potential that these stadiums will not be used again, is a concern voiced by other authors.
SOURCE 2 : Assessing the Economic Impact of Hosting the Olympic Games by Andrew Cordova.
In this article, Andrew Cordova of Western Kentucky University presents many modern examples of host cities not reaching expected outcomes of hosting the Olympics. One contributing factor to these unrealized expectations is something Cordova calls the substitution effect. To paraphrase, the substitution effect is when a certain sector in the economy experiences a boost, but another sector suffers, resulting in no net gain in the economy. Cordova uses this effect to explain the large increase in taxable revenue in hotels and hospitality during the 2002 Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City, which were offset by the comparatively larger losses in the other sectors in the economy (25). It would be fair to say that most people do not think of or know about this substitution effect, and it is a powerful logical argument in favor of my thesis that one cannot know if hosting the Olympics will be economically beneficial to the community.
Another strong point of this article is the background it gives on how the estimates are made of the potential Olympic impact on the host country. To summarize, Cordova quotes Meyer’s statement on differing multipliers used to estimate the impact of mega events on cities and produces as example the failed Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, where the estimates on how much revenue the games would make differed by 5 billion dollars (24). Any uncertainty to the extent of 5 billion dollars should be enough to cause a rational mind to question the possibility of predicting the impact of the Olympics. Without a certain expected revenue, planners will have no idea how much they can spend on the games. While this argument is primarily aimed at the logos of the reader, this does have some effect on the pathos of my audience.
An annoying weakness of this article is a mistake in writing. In his conclusion, Cordova paraphrases J. G. Owen, claiming that “the cost of constructing Olympic venues is usually regarded as a benefit to the economy – the most extreme error of economic studies,” after having included next to nothing on the actual construction of venues (26). I do not have to mention this in my article, but it is sad that a statement as final as that does not have explicit examples. Perhaps Cordova expects readers to have already read Owen’s work.
Source 3: An Economic and Social Legacy: Take Note Rio by Sarah L ee, Tony Ghaye, and Martin Dixon
In this article, the authors claim that the 2012 Summer Olympics in London were a social and economic success. They cite an executive summary from the Mayor of London which lists economic benefits like “£9.9 billion [pounds][approx. 8.4 billion U.S dollars] in international trade and inward investment has been won because of the Games; by 2020 an estimated economic impact of £28‒41 billion in Gross Value Added; 70,000 jobs for workless Londoners” (Lee 583). These numbers are quite impressive, and alone they seem like great incentive to host the Olympics. This article has many weaknesses though. The Mayor of London is their only source and the affiliations of the writers are not the best credentials for an economic study. Sarah Lee is a sport science professor and Martin Dixon is a health science professor. To paraphrase one of their claims, the London Olympics used similar strategies used by previous host countries, but was practically the only host to have made the games have a lasting economic and social effect (Sarah 582). This claim can be easily questioned simply by realizing that the article was published a single year after the games in London. Other articles emphasize studies over the course of 10-15 years.
I plan on using this article mainly as an appeal to the pathos of my audience. The latter part of the article, in summary, has a discussion on the lack of unity in the team designated to maintain the Olympic legacy. They call for the Prime Minister to become involved so as to implement the post-Olympic plan better (583). This lack of unity even after plans have been made can be concerning for anyone trying to implement a 10-15 year plan, for example, our legislature.
Audience : My target audience for this paper is government officials who hold state offices. They are the greatest influence toward hosting an Olympic game, as the games are normally confined to one city and the surrounding area. The games held in the US are normally funded by the State government, so they have a vote that the games cannot go without. It is often the case that a politician will suggest hosting the Olympics, promising the public new urban developments and an economic boost due to the large influx of tourists. If anyone needs to be informed about the potential economic losses from hosting the Olympics, it is the legislature that will be footing the bill when it does not go as planned.
In order to appeal to state legislatures, I will have to focus primarily on the logos and ethos possessed by those officials, as I will likely have interested economists or business owners arguing against my claims passionately. I intend to show the unreliability of economic predictions by using historical examples like the Chicago bid and the London games, both of which had vastly different predictions of cost and benefit. I will emphasize the expertise of my sources to appeal to their ethos. I may be able to appeal somewhat to their pathos with some stories of relocation and huge debts incurred, but I think most important will be the style used to argue this point.
Politicians are, like most people, not fond of being called stupid, uninformed, or corrupt. In an argument about economic purposes, a formal, professional tone is necessary. The title will need to be interesting so as to hook the officials, but not immature or too much like a magazine headline. If an official is going to use this paper as a source for their argument, it better not be called “What they aren’t telling you,” or “The Secret Affair between The Olympic Planning Committee and Hotels.” Better would be a statement on how the Olympics favor hotels and hospitality while harming local merchandise, as mentioned above.
In order for the Olympics to have a lasting positive effect on a city’s economy, the costs need to be known to a certain degree of accuracy. Without this knowledge, which is rarely if ever known before the bid is won, cities run the risk of over committing themselves, and legislatures run the risk of disappointing their voting base. It is important that legislators know the huge risk they run promising economic benefits from as large and unreliable an investment as the biggest mega event in the world. This is what I hope to do in writing my article.
Chalkley, Brian and Stephen Essex. “Urban Development through Hosting International Events: A History of the Olympic Games.” Planning Perspectives , vol. 14, no. 4, Oct. 1999, pp. 369-394. EBSCO host , doi:10.1080/026654399364184.
Cordova, Andrew J. “Assessing the Economic Impact of Hosting the Olympic Games.” Kentucky Newsletter for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance , vol. 52, no. 2, Spring2015, pp. 22-27. EBSCOhost. ezproxy.uvu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=10 9268065&site=eds-live .
Lee, Sarah, et al. “An Economic and Social Legacy: Take Note Rio.” Reflective Practice, vol. 14, no. 5, Oct. 2013, pp. 581-584. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14623943.2013.839449