Think international spotlight, understanding, harmony, peace, celebration, sportsmanship, tourism, foreign investment and cultural exchange whenever a major sporting event is held. Think again. Why do people shun to discuss the wastage of resources, the failing economies, the lack of integrity of sporting organizations and hosting countries involved in hosting major sporting events? It is time the flip side of hosting major sporting events is discussed and while hosting major sporting events do bring about the many benefits aforementioned, at the same time, it projects problems that are far longer lasting than the opposite.
Hosting major sporting events results in a huge wastage of resources that could have otherwise been used to tackle other more pertinent and pressing problems the hosting country faces. More often than not, hosting countries spent a massive amount of public money on building new stadiums that are not put into good use after the sporting event has passed. What is left behind are big, chunky scraps of metal that are under-utilized and the loss of billions of dollars that yield no benefits for the residents of hosting country. When public funds are spent on the sporting event, the government would have to divert funds from another sector of the society in order to gather adequate funds for the event. This results in a sector of society having to suffer from the effects of the cuts. Take the 2014 Brazil World Cup for example. Brazil spent over 2.7 billion euros in building and renovating stadiums, many which will be rendered useless after the game as the country does not need more stadiums. Instead, to cover up for the costs, Brazil cut 316 million euros from the education bill. This would result in poorer facilities and resources allocated to the schools to educate the young. Brazil’s total expenditure on the World Cup was over 6.4 billion euros. The country has over a quarter of its population living in poverty, a severe lack of hospitals and one of the worst infrastructures in the world. The resources spent on the major sporting event could be put into the betterment of the standard of living of its residents instead, tackling pressing problems than sacrificing sectors of the society that would cause further implications.
Hosting major sporting events may also bring out values contradictory to its intended objectives. Countries vie to host major sporting events to reap the benefits they promise. Many countries will work on improving their infrastructure, attractions, economies to prove themselves worthy of holding the event. Some countries resort to bribery and corruption to be given the hosting rights. Contrary to the values that major sporting events are supposed to encourage, it adulterates the purpose of the sports event and propels the hosting country in a negative light. Taking the controversial bid for the 2018 Russia World Cup and 2022 Qatar World Cup as examples, both countries mentioned above are currently under fire for the corruption involved in obtaining hosting rights for the World Cup. This portrays both countries negatively, leading to an increase wariness among foreign investors to invest in the countries’ economies, in turn causing more problems as the economy is likely to experience a slower growth.
However, hosting a major sporting event does have its benefits. For one, it can cast the hosting country onto the international stage while attracting high levels of tourism at the same time. The 2012 Beijing Olympics was a extravaganza that allowed China to showcase Beijing to the world. It successfully altered public perceptions on the emerging superpower and its competency by pulling off a spectacular opening ceremony unlike any other. It propelled Beijing into international spotlight and introduced the Chinese culture to the world, an opportunity much needed for a previously closed-up country. However, the 40 billion dollar investment inevitably resulted in the abandonment of facilities after the Olympics, similar to its counterparts that had gone before.
As much as hosting major sporting events would allow the host to showcase itself, gain international influence, allow cultural exchange, and attract high levels of tourism, the complexity of the problems that come with it leaves behind a far wider and drastic effect for the host than its benefits. Hosting major sporting events will only continue bringing about more problems than benefits if current trend of hosting culture continues. The world will only be able to obtain more benefits than harm from hosting when we are able to start looking into sustainability and accountability when hosting major sports event.