News Analysis: Aussie experts believe benefits will outweigh costs of hosting 2032 Olympics

2021-07-21 11:06:01 GMT2021-07-21 19:06:01(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, July 21 (Xinhua) -- With Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane announced to be the host of the 2032 summer Olympic Games, concerns have been raised about its exorbitant costs -- others, however, are confident the social benefits will mean it will be money well spent.

Cities spend billions for the privilege of hosting the world's biggest sporting event. Furthermore, those costs have been estimated to balloon above the initial estimates usually. However, supporters of the Games point out that big money can be recouped through increased tourism and broadcasting rights.

The Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates noted that the independent financial analyses shows that a benefit of 17.61 billion Australian dollar (about 12.88 billion U.S. dollars) for Australia is projected.

"We have talked about the Games becoming a catalyst for much needed infrastructure and the jobs and tourism that will flow to all of Queensland and beyond," Coates said.

He added that the 4.941 billion Australian dollar (about 3.62 billion U.S. dollars) it will cost to put the event on will be offset by a contribution from the International Olympic Committee plus sponsorship and ticket sales. The Games will be cost neutral from an operational perspective.

However, experts from the University of Queensland's (UQ) told Xinhua that the Olympics often failed to live up to projections because the economic benefits turned out to be less than the costs and the supposed long-term legacy generated by the event.

"In economic terms, the outcomes of major sporting events involving large government spending have generally been poor … despite the optimistic projections often made for such events," said Professor John Quiggin from the UQ School of Economics.

Quiggin also pointed to a study by Monash University that estimated the Sydney Olympics Games in 2000, despite being widely recognized as an economic success, it incurred an estimated loss of 2.1 billion Australian dollars (about 1.54 billion U.S. dollars).

Associate Professor Judith Mair from the UQ School of Business said evidence for long-term increases in tourism after hosting a mega-event was mixed, and a positive tourism legacy was not guaranteed.

"There are also plenty of examples of host cities where the outcome has been very negative -- for example, Athens, where many of the venues built for the Games have remained unused and have now fallen into disrepair," Mair said.

But the value of the Olympics cannot be measured by dollars alone. Mair and Quiggin believe the economic loss would be offset by intangible factors such as civic pride and other social-cultural impacts, which relate to people feeling they belong to a particular community or society.

"I think there is great potential for the social-cultural impact to be huge," Mair said. "This could be in areas of encouraging physical activity and sport among residents, so improving health and wellbeing. Many tourist facilities, such as bars and restaurants, are also used by locals, which has increased social cohesion.

"There are also opportunities to use the Games to leverage public and private funding to create new business, trade, tourism and a more positive image of the host city."

For example, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, has an enviable reputation for being sports orientated, dating back to its triumphant hosting of the 1956 Olympics. It is regularly selected as the host city for international events, such as the Formula One World Championship and the Australian Open.

In 2020, the prestigious tennis tournament delivered record economic benefits to Victoria, according to the Australian Open's website. It also attracted the biggest global broadcast audience in the tournament's history. Of the record-breaking 812,174 attendees that year, 54 percent were from beyond Melbourne, with 13 percent from overseas.

"These figures highlight just how important the Australian Open is to Victoria's economy and demonstrate how Melbourne is a world leader for major sporting events," said Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula.

Mair said none of these positive impacts happen without planning and investment, and that needed to start now.

This year's Brisbane Olympic bid was declared a viable candidate based on the nation's passion for sport, a strong master plan that plans to use existing temporary infrastructure to cut costs, and finally, a commitment to embracing it Olympic values.

The "new norm" introduced by the IOC also calls for a more efficient approach to hosting. Temporary, flexible venues will be allowed for the first time, and multiple sports will share venues. Instead of living in the Olympic Village for more than 10 days, athletes could leave when their competitions were over.

Quiggin said every Olympics was different. With careful planning and a fair sharing of the benefits of television rights, it should be possible to keep costs down and produce an event that would have net benefits for the people of Queensland. Enditem