How Olympics Hurt Host Cities More Than Help

3 reasons cities should avoid Games: Andrew Zimbalist
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2012 1:18 PM CDT
How Olympics Hurt Host Cities More Than Help
A boy plays soccer at Battersea Park while a set of Olympic rings located on a barge floats in the River Thames in the distance Sunday, July 22, 2012, in London.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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.
(Read more 2012 London Olympics stories.)

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