Is Hosting the Olympics a privilege or inconvenience?

By Elad De Piccioto
 Getty / Ezra Shaw
Los Angeles and Paris remain the only two candidates for hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. After a long process, the International Olympic Committee is supposed to decide in September who will host the next Olympics. LA was chosen by the United States Olympic Committee after Boston withdrew due to financial concerns.
When embarking on such a huge undertaking, both the risk and rewards can be immeasurable. Those cities that can even consider the opportunity to host face a great debate: Is hosting the Olympics a privilege or an inconvenience? Here are three pros and three cons:


Three reasons why hosting the Olympics benefits the hosting city and country


The city experiences the Olympics’ positive values

The modern Olympic Games pay homage to ancient Greek civilization, which is considered the cradle of Western civilization, including its liberal values. The Olympics celebrate history and the values of freedom, equality, globalism and peace. As the Olympics are about this very spirit — and not about money — promoting these values should be the first consideration for hosting, not money. A host city not only identifies and supports these values but gets the honor to promote them locally and globally. Such a positive environment will remain even after the Olympics end


The Olympics help promote sports and health in the host country

Sports are an important social institution. They promote identification and attachment to society while teaching values. Sports also promote a healthy society: an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence suggests that engaging in sports activities can prevent chronic diseases and keep people healthier.

The Olympics promote sports in the host city and country. During the Olympics, athletes who are usually unknown are put in the spotlight, are widely recognized, and can even become national heroes. This can encourage local kids and athletes to follow their athletic dreams. Moreover, hosting the Olympics increases the importance of and participation in sports. The combination of these factors leaves a long-lasting positive impact on the host city. Therefore, hosting the Olympics contributes to a more sports-oriented and healthier society on a city and national level.


It makes people happy

Researchers have found that hosting a huge sporting event increases life satisfaction. The long-term research aimed to find whether a country`s good athletic performance made people happier. Eventually, the researchers found that, yes, hosting such sporting events made people in the host city happier. In fact, they were three times happier than if they had gained a higher education and that the positivity was nearly large enough to offset the misery triggered by divorce.



Three reasons hosting the Olympics doesn’t benefit the hosting city and country


The Olympics are not economical

Setting up for the Olympics costs money. A lot of money. Countries invest billions of dollars in building and improving infrastructures, like highways, airports and sports venues. Although the vast investment benefits local residents, the Olympics are rarely considered profitable.  Therefore,  a huge question arises: If the money invested in setting up for the Olympics would have been invested differently, would it benefit local residents even more? Some suggest that an investment in social issues, such as education and health care, is a better way to promote and achieve the general good.


The trouble caused in the city

Hosting the Olympics can place a real strain on daily lives for the host city’s residents. First, there is an ongoing security threat over the city, resulting in large-scale security arrangements, including military power that often strengthens the Olympics’ security staff. Seeing military forces around the city can provoke unpleasant feelings and even anxiety for some of its residents.

Second, the city is packed with tourists during the Olympic Games. Many more people are present in public spaces, making it less comfortable for locals. And, of course, there is the traffic issue — tourists and locals travel a lot between the sports venues, which makes public transportation too crowded.


Hosting the Olympics doesn’t change a country`s reputation

The large-scale attention of hosting the Olympic Games is usually presented to a potential host city and country as one of the main advantages of doing so. However, this attention can work both ways: Unexpected incidents and misconduct can cause serious damage to the reputation of the host city and country. For example, the enduring image of the Munich Olympics is a man in a ski mask. Additionally, the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece (which is considered an economic failure) is portrayed as the main reason for the country`s ongoing economic crisis.  Recent studies actually suggest that hosting the Olympics has little, if any, influence on a country`s reputation. Australian researchers found little change in perceptions towards Australia following the Olympics.


Bottom line: Hosting the Olympics can be a privilege or an inconvenience, mostly depending on the level of planning and the level of existing sports facilities in the host city. So, did LA make the right decision in bidding for the 2024 Olympics?

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