Why do Countries Host Major Sporting Events?
Why do countries and cities compete to host mega sporting events? And what factors do most hosts have in common?
Mega-events present mega-opportunities to shape, restructure, improve, prepackage and sell the host city to an international audience. Events like the Olympics and the Football World Cup attract billions of viewers internationally and hundreds of thousands of visiting spectators. The magnitude of both challenge and opportunity is exceptional. They attract highly competitive cities in rigorous and demanding bidding processes. Historically they have been hosted primarily in developed countries, though increasingly developing countries sees these as opportunities to fast-track development. It is vital that opportunities be weighed against mega-risks of pubic debt, resource strain and international public relations disaster of a poorly executed event.
Common Factors for Hosts of Major Sporting Events:
- These events can be used as catalysts to further a city’s long-term vision and can provide long-term benefits, provided a balance exists among economic, social and environmental factors (e.g., Barcelona 1992, 2004, Genoa, Italy)
- However, significant uncertainty and risk are common to all events like this, that are both infrequent and all-consuming
- Traditional survey, analysis and planning techniques only partially apply to the high political pressure, sudden climatic or seasonal realities, cultural upheavals, economic turbulence, etc. that are often related to mega-events
- These events often mobilize unusually high levels of innovative and imaginative thinking and problem solving
- Many pulses have a climax, often related to heightened anticipation and excitement which is rapidly followed by a period of anti-climax, often characterized by negative effects that are often sustained and pervasive.
- More openness to exploring unorthodox and untested approaches to related problems
- There are no universal solutions (different cultures have different sensitivities)
- Success for host cities has been linked to strong partnerships among politicians, private sector and experts (i.e., Barcelona 1992)
- Planning tools of Environmental Risk Assessment, Strategic Planning, Risk Management, Demand/supply Management by utilities, etc. are often restricted to developed countries. In developing context, there is an even greater need to draw on such expertise.
- To truly realize the possible long-term benefits of hosting these events, it is critical to design and build adaptable infrastructure
Source: Altringer (2005). Hosting Mega-events: the Road to the FIFA World Cup 2010. WITS University, October 31, 2005.