Hosting the Olympics

July 3, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 13
Is it a good investment for cities?
By Christopher Hack


Olympic Stadium and Park (Getty Images/LOCOG/Anthony Charlton)
Olympic Stadium and Park in London's renovated East End neighborhood will host both the Summer Olympics and the International Paralympics, scheduled shortly after the Olympics. Critics say that unless done carefully, Olympic facilities can become abandoned “white elephants,” and host cities can be saddled with huge debts for massive Olympics-related infrastructure projects. (Getty Images/LOCOG/Anthony Charlton)

At the end of this month, four billion people around the world will watch the televised opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. More than 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries will compete, all hoping to be the fastest, strongest and best in their fields. Britain will spend about $19 billion on the event at a time when a financial crisis is raging across Europe and governments are slashing spending. While the sports-loving British are mostly enthusiastic about hosting the event, some question whether so much money should have been spent on non-essential sports facilities during a time of austerity and whether the city will ever get a return on its massive investment. Athens, the last European capital to host the summer games, incurred a huge debt that it may never be able to repay. Yet cities around the world — even in developing countries — continue to vie fiercely for a chance to host the games. But what do cities hope to gain from the event, and what are the real costs involved?

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jul. 03, 2012  Hosting the Olympics
Apr. 05, 1996  Centennial Olympic Games
May 25, 1984  Olympics 1984: Countdown to Los Angeles
Jul. 09, 1976  Olympics 1976
Jun. 03, 1964  Olympic Games
Sports and Recreation