QUESTION: “Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits.” Do you agree?
Thesis statement: Hosting major international sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup creates more problems than benefits due to the small amount of the population that these major sporting events benefit and the numerous undesirable side effects major sporting events cause, especially for developing nations.
Content paragraph 1: Hosting a major sporting event requires a lot of specialized infrastructure as well as a lot of funding. Many nations that host such major sporting events do not have such infrastructure, and having to build such infrastructure as large stadiums means that the cost is even greater for these countries. Moreover, the stadiums end up becoming white elephants after the sporting event, hence the large amounts of money spent on building them is as good as wasted. Take for example Brasil, host of the 2014 football World Cup. The country spent around 4 billion dollars, most of which comprised of public taxpayer money, to build stadiums and improve infrastructure to accommodate the large crowds who would come to watch the football. A year on, 6 out of 12 of the new state-of-the-art stadiums are in financial difficulty and local Brasillian governments are struggling to find uses for them. There are no benefits whatsoever for the local people, who also have to pay additional money to watch their local teams play at these large, often-empty stadiums. High running costs also leech off public money, and as a result the public debt worsens. The money that was used to build all these infrastructure could have been spent on, say, improving the Brasillian education system or healthcare system, which was the cause of protests leading up to the World Cup in 2014. These all serve to illustrate the point that there are so many problems that stem from hosting of a major sporting event like the World Cup, especially for the country’s citizens.
Counter-argument/rebuttal: Of course, hosting a major sporting event does not only cause problems for the host nation; they do bring certain benefits with them. Back to the example about Brasil – to host the World Cup, they had to clean up the cities and “favelas” (Brasillian slums). Favela clean-ups resulted in arrests of gang leaders and corrupted police, meaning that the slums are safer to live in. Brasil is also hosting the Summer Olympics in 2016, and the people in charge of organizing the Olympics have stated plans to use the World Cup stadiums for Olympic sports. However, it is unlikely that simply hosting a one-off event like the Olympics will offset the costs incurred by hosting both that as well as the World Cup – In China, even though the Bird’s Nest stadium used in the 2008 Olympics attracts tourists and boosts the tourism economy, the high running costs outweigh the revenue gained and hence is not beneficial for the country in general. In the slums, new gangs and even more corrupted policemen are going to reappear; the cleaning-up has been said to be simply a “front” put up by Brasil so that tourists do not get a bad impression of the country. Hence, we can see that hosting a major sporting event has numerous problems that outweigh the benefits of hosting it, which are few and far between.
Content paragraph 2: In general, hosting a major sporting event also needs a great deal of public effort. In Singapore, which is hosting the 2015 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), members of the public were encouraged to help make plush toys of the mascots to be presented to the winners of the sporting events. The time and opportunity costs incurred by people making these plush toys could have been better spent elsewhere, for instance on volunteer work or even with their families. The public spirit generated by activities such as these in the build-up to a major sporting event is also considerably little especially since little teamwork is required. Hence, there are more problems than benefits created by the hosting of a major sporting event.