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SBD Global/January 3, 2014/Events and Attractions

Financial Times Examines Increasing Negative Factors For Countries Hosting Mega Events

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics "established the idea that staging a leading international sporting event is a fantastic way for a country to market itself," according to the FINANCIAL TIMES. However, in '14, a Winter Olympics in Russia and a football World Cup in Brazil "may demonstrate that hosting such an event is now as likely to damage a country’s reputation as to burnish it." The main reason is the "fantastic amounts of money that are poured into the staging of these mega-events." The 2014 Sochi Olympics "look likely to set a world record for cost overruns," coming in at a "spectacular" $50B -- compared with the “mere” $6B spent on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Sochi Olympics "have not sparked open demonstrations of public discontent." But Brazil’s footballing ambitions, by contrast, "have already led to the biggest mass demonstrations in the country in decades" -- staged during the 2013 Confederations Cup. Many Brazilians "are outraged" that $3.2B is "being poured into building ultra-modern 'Fifa-standard' football stadiums, when so many Brazilians live in poverty." Politicians "have generally assumed that ordinary citizens will love them for delivering an Olympics or a World Cup." But when voters are actually consulted, "they often take a negative view." In the past year, referendums "have been staged in Munich about bidding for the Winter Olympics and in Vienna about bidding for a summer games." In both cities, "the voters said Nein danke." But predictions that the 2014 Sochi Olympics or the Brazil World Cup will backfire on the hosts "cannot be made with any certainty." Experience suggests that "once an event gets under way, the sheer joy of the spectacle can sweep away the cynicism that preceded it -- at least as long as the athletes are in town" (FT, 12/30).
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