Cities go nuts trying to bring the Olympics home—and they may not be doing themselves any favors. Sure, if everything runs smoothly, the Games might offer a "small windfall." But the economic reality is far more complicated, writes Andrew Zimbalist at the Atlantic:
- Private companies, not cities, are the big winners in the bidding process. Organizing committees largely represent businesses, like construction, that stand to gain from the Games, and their cost-benefit analysis reflects that—meaning bidding doesn't accurately reflect the city's financial means.
- Once a city wins the Olympics, "frenzied" planning begins. While this can occasionally force some cities to make needed upgrades, it often results in infrastructure that benefits the sporting events without an eye to the city's future. And afterward, leftover stadiums take up needed room and cost tens of millions to maintain, even as they provide little use.
- The Games cost tens of billions and bring in closer to $5 billion. And there's not much evidence that the Olympics work as a giant ad for tourists, despite what promoters say. If anything goes wrong, it's bad publicity, and anyway, many Olympic cities are already world landmarks.
Click for Zimbalist's full column.