Why Interest in Hosting the Olympics is Plummeting

Olympic Stadium in Rio

When Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host this year’s Olympics back in 2009, Brazilians were ecstatic. That is until the worst economic recession in recent memory struck the South American nation.

Unemployment has sky-rocketed and the living conditions of the Brazilian citizens have plummeted. Twenty percent of Rio’s population lives in favelas, the poor, dilapidated neighborhoods of the city.

With the Olympic budget venturing into the billions, some are beginning to question whether Rio should have ever applied to host the games. Instead, citizens would rather have the money spent on assistance and programs to aid struggling citizens and stimulate a dead economy.

Officially, the cost estimate of the Rio games is $12 billion. However, experts agree that the actual spending will end up closer to $20 billion if not even higher. While billions of dollars are being spent, the country is simultaneously cutting spending on health care and education. Police forces have gone unpaid for weeks at a time in some cases.

While the situation in Rio may be direr than most due to their massive recession, hosting the Olympic Games results in a loss for nearly every city that hosts the event. Andrew Rose, an economist at UC Berkeley, believes that “hosting the Olympics is just a terrible idea” because nearly every Olympics is grossly over budget and leaves the host city with billions in debt. This financial burden has begun to daunt various cities. Their concerns are reflected in the recent applications of cities to host the games, or lack thereof.

Eleven cities applied to host the 2004 summer games, yet only five expressed interest for the games in 2020. Only two cities offered to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing. Both of these cities have major human rights concerns and are not ideal options.

The International Olympic Committee has recently reformed the bidding process, promoting more “reuse and renovation” of facilities used for the games as opposed to building brand new stadiums that never get used again. Unless this option dramatically reduces costs for cities and is viable for the hosting of the games, expect the application numbers to continue to dwindle.

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