OLYMPICS YES – TAXPAYER FUNDED NO

Intangible “feel-good” emotions don’t pay for the Olympics, Taxpayers do

By Laura-Lee Dyck

Since the highly successful 1988 Olympics, economic, political, and environmental circumstances have changed. Calgary could afford this event in 1988. Now it cannot and who will actually benefit is questionable.

Let’s start with the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) which is comprised of selected civic officials, businessmen, accountants, lawyers, and former Olympians. Concerns have been raised that these individuals were neither elected by Calgarians nor are they accountable to them. The CBEC as stated by Zimbalist (2012), “is the result of what economists call a principal/agent “problem.” The city (principal) is not properly represent by the local organizing committee (agent). The committee (CBEC) that nominally represents the city really represents itself and bids according to its sense of the private benefit (of its members) versus the private costs, rather than the city public benefit verses public cost.”

The CBEC stated Calgary has the means to host the 2026 Games’. The budget it proposed estimates the total cost would be $4.6 billion, of which $2.3 would be paid by the provincial and federal governments with the remainder by Calgary. Post-Olympic research has shown that when actual budgets are presented to the public, as can be seen from the above chart, costs are consistently underestimated and profits are overestimated. Tony Manfred (2014) states “academics have been saying this for years that hosting the Olympics doesn’t make economic sense. The costs are typically larger than expected, the infrastructure needs for a big sporting event isn’t the same as the infrastructure needed for daily life, and the economic benefits are typically overstated.”

Bob Mackin (2014) reported that “Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem in November 2011 signed an agreement with VANOC and the COC to transfer VANOC’s corporate archive to the civic archive. It contained a clause to keep important documents, including board minutes, monthly financials and legal correspondence hidden from the public until 2025. That will be a decade-and-a-half after the Games and a year before 2026. VANOC was subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Province of B.C. was its guarantor, but it was exempt from the freedom of information law.” Hidden documents by VANOC along with the history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of keeping all records and financials highlights lack of transparency.

An economic impact study of hosting the Calgary Games’ was commissioned by the Canadian Sport Tourism Authority. The Globe and Mail (2017) reported that the study “concluded the 2026 Games could add $3.7 billion to Alberta’s gross domestic product, $2.6 billion of additional labour income and the creation of about 40,000 jobs.” The credibility of these numbers are of concern when a comparison is made to Vancouver’ s 2010 estimates and actual numbers.

For Vancouver, the economic impact estimates provided by the InterVISTAS Consulting Group had predicted quite favourable forecasts. The public was told the Games’ would generate $10 billion in revenue and create 244,000 jobs. These numbers were changed in 2009 to $4 billion in revenue and 24,000 jobs based on a seven year old case study. Gowe (2009) reported the accounting firm PricewaterHouseCoopers LLP was commissioned by BC and federal governments and found “the 2010 Winter Games are estimated to have produced up to 20,780 jobs in BC.” The use of such estimates were used to appeal to the public to gain support and promise for the provinces economic well-being.

These economic impact studies raise great concerns. Baade and Matheson (2016), state “unless policy makers can predict recession years ahead of time – given that the International Olympic Committee awards the games seven years in advance – using the Olympics to pull a country out of recession would rest more on dumb luck rather than prudent planning”. Favourable studies are chosen by biased bid committees because of their vested interest in the outcome. These impact studies look good on paper, yet research overwhelmingly shows that the actual economic impact is either a fraction of what was predicted or close to zero. Baade (2007) further elaborates, “those who advocate the use of public funds for such purpose promise an economic windfall in return, and offer economic impact studies to bolster their claims. There are reasons to be skeptical of the evidence offered by boosters, and the study analyzed the errors and omissions common to booster economic impact studies.”

The misleading nature of these Games’ estimates were revealed. The operating budget of $1.89 billion balanced, it was the venue, infrastructure and security budgets that left Vancouverites and Canadians with a $6 – $8 billion debt (depending on the newspaper that was sourced.)

The tangible short term and long term benefits are the primary economic reasons to justifying the Games’:

  • Upgrades and new sporting facilities may leave a legacy for future generations;
  • Tourism may increase or may decrease;
  • City infrastructure may be enhanced;
  • Foreign investment and international trade may increase;
  • The media will provide attention to the entire world for 2 weeks creating an international marketing platform to billions of

Many of these impacts are temporary, raising the question: will the general population of the City benefit from this business venture?

Employment numbers may temporarily improve for the construction industry in order to build the various venues required by the IOC. However, Robert Baumann, Bryan Engelhardt, and Victor Matheson (May 2012) elaborate on these false numbers for Atlanta where “event promoters suggested that the Games would increase employment in the state by 35,000 job-years. The Games’ impact was a fraction of that claimed by boosters. While the Salt Lake City Olympics did increase employment overall by between 4,000 and 7,000 jobs, these gains were concentrated in the leisure industry, and the Games had little to no effect on employment after 12 months.”

The Canadian Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) in the Calgary Herald (2017) believes these tangible benefits of hosting the Olympics “has traditionally brought significant provincial and federal investment to the host city.” This statement comes too often treating municipal, provincial and federal government contributions as if it is free money.

The CSTA also believes another Olympics is just what the Calgary economy needs. This is an assumption, not a guarantee that individuals will come from other countries to see the Games’. Other host cities after their Olympics noted that expectations for tourism was lower. This was seen in the Sydney 2000 Olympics where the economy actually shrank. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics saw a drop in tourism in 2009 not seeing an increase until four years after the Olympics.

As stated by Mueller (2015) Calgary is experiencing the mega event syndrome.

This syndrome “is a group of symptoms that occur together and afflict mega-event planning, including over promising benefits, underestimating costs, rewriting urban planning priorities to fit the event, using public resources for private interest and suspending the regular rule of law.” The Olympics serve as a catalyst which encourages politicians to implement infrastructure investments that generally are not in the best interest for the City due to the cost.

The Flames Hockey team has told Calgarians the Flames new hockey arena could also be used for the Games’. As Appelbaum (2014) states “stadiums which cost a lot and produce minimal economic benefits, are a particularly lousy line of business. (This is why they are usually built by taxpayers rather than corporations.)” The new arena would definitely benefit those that enjoy hockey. But we must look to the past when the Saddledome was built for the 1988 Olympics where it went $17 million over budget. There is no reason to expect future Olympic costs will not exceed budgets.

The Corral Arena too is projected to receive a $19 million face lift which would then be destroyed. How is this money well spent?

When you follow the research it shows according to Coates and Humphreys (2008) “academic studies of sports facilities on host communities are nearly unanimous in finding little or no economic benefits associated with stadiums and arenas.” Calgary is fortunate to have specialized athletic facilities from 1988, however each require expensive upgrades.

Another expense for taxpayers are the proposed upgrades for Canmore, and the privately owned ski hills Lake Louise and Nakiska. Let’s not forget Whistler for ski jumping. These locations will ride on the Olympic coat tails and Calgary will be expected to pay the tab.

Security, is one of the largest Games’ expense. When Rick Hanson was deputy police chief for the Kananaskis G8 he stated in Maclean’s (2003) “in all instances there are basic precautions which authorities hope they do not have to use. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Now, as chair of the CBEC, his comments are very different and based upon the belief that the world may be at peace in 2026. Mr. Hanson has down played Calgary’s risk by stating that we are not a port city (which is harder to defend); and enhanced technology will reduce costs. With the ability to travel and get over the unprotected portions of the Canadian border this statement is completely irrelevant.

It was hoped that the CBEC would have learned from Vancouver’s inability to forecast future costs and global events. Vancouver budgeted $175,000 for security, which Finance Minister Colin Hansen and John Furlong VANOC CEO defended on numerous occasions. Those that questioned this amount said the final bill would be closer to $1 billion, which it was. According to the May 1, 2017 Sun Newspaper Rick Hanson concedes “the cost of securing the Games is impossible to quantify given these uncertain times of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.” Now that a cost of

$600,000 million was realized, how did an unquantifiable expense get such a low initial estimate, especially when comparing final security tabs which are not considered part of the operating budget.

Hidden costs include: the increased numbers of public servants including police, transit, and waste removal; government leaders travel to preview the events; and insurance. The Boston Globe (2015) also acknowledged that “the IOC requires each host to sign an agreement around tax exemptions during the Olympics, usually voiding a variety of sales and other taxes,” and “the IOC has a technical manual on brand protection. It requires the host city to clear all advertising space for a month before the Games and several weeks afterward, so it may be used for the Olympic sponsors and the Five Rings. There is not only the expense of taking down and putting back the existing advertising on billboards, busses, trains, and at the airport; there is also the lost ad rental income for two months.”

According to the City of Calgary’s 2016 Annual Report (P57), “Calgary could be at financial risk if further debt is incurred” above the debt limit set by the Municipal Government Act. That debt limit is about $6.5 billion, which would be exceeded, taking into account the unfunded police/fireman pension; and the costs of the Green Line, Crowchild Trail, and hockey arena. The “Calgary’s proposed debt” chart does not include interest payments, which could be in at least the $6 billion range.

Robert Barney, Director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario (2009), says “the calculation includes only direct costs of staging the games and not the indirect costs provided by city, provincial and federal governments. The same is true, he says, for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary Alberta, Canada, and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Organizers of both games claimed multimillion-dollar surpluses, but neither included massive federal spending when adding up costs.” Calgary Council announced to the public after the 1988 Olympics, the Games was 59% over budget or almost $1 billion based on 2015 inflationary rates. Calgary had the means to handle any deficit, but current financial hardships say otherwise for the 2026 Games’.

To assume that hosting a two week event 9 years in the future will result in nationwide increases for investment, trade and exports is impossible to forecast. There is no way to predict the global economy that far in advance. Maennig and Richter (2012) and Langer, Maennig, and Richter (2014) state that “when bidding countries are appropriately compared with countries that are otherwise similar but did not bid for the Games that this significant Olympic effect on trade, consumption, investment and income all disappear.“

If hosting the Olympics was simply down to basic economics, it would be obvious for the City to say “no” based on the above financial data from the last 50 years of cost overruns. The emotional component, also known as the intangibles of legacy and national pride has become the political edge used by governments and the media. Yes, Calgarians were and are still proud to have been the hosts in 1988. However, it is this type of political “spinning” that is misleading.

Yes, the construction, tourism and hospitality workers may see a temporary increase in employment. However those benefiting include the International Organizing Committee, Olympic organizing committees, land developers, construction companies, tourism and hotel owners, large property owners, TV corporations, and corporate sponsors, but not the general public. When hotel prices increase, the staff wage stays the same. As well, Minnaert (2012) states “the Olympic Games generally bring few benefits for socially excluded groups, although these benefits are often important justifications in the bidding stage.”

There is no question that hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games would have benefits, intangible though they may be. However, in hosting this mega-event, Calgarians would be vulnerable to security risks for visitors, athletes, and citizens.

Calgary would have the misfortune of being financially responsible for direct and indirect cost overruns based on the IOC contract. Regardless of the recommendations for the IOC to change its ways, the bottom line does not change.

Flyvbjerg and Stewart (2012) state it best: “the data thus show that for a city and nation to decide to host the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most financially risky type of megaproject that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.” 

 

FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PLUS REFERENCES FOR THIS RESEARCH PAPER

Scholarly Articles

Robert A. Baade and Victor A. Matheson, “Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives. (2016).

Abstract/findings: “In this paper, we explore the costs and benefits of hosting the Olympic Games. On the cost side, there are three major categories: general infrastructure such as transportation and housing to accommodate athletes and fans; specific sports infrastructure required for competition venues; and operational costs, including general administration as well as the opening and closing ceremony and security. Three major categories of benefits also exist: the short-run benefits of tourist spending during the Games; the long-run benefits or the “Olympic legacy” which might include improvements in infrastructure and increased trade, foreign investment, or tourism after the Games; and intangible benefits such as the “feel-good effect” or civic pride.

Each of these costs and benefits will be addressed in turn, but the overwhelming conclusion is that in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for host cities; they result in positive net benefits only under very specific and unusual circumstances. Furthermore, the cost–benefit proposition is worse for cities in developing countries than for those in the industrialized world. In closing, we discuss why what looks like an increasingly poor investment decision on the part of cities still receives significant bidding interest and whether changes in the bidding process of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will improve outcomes for potential hosts.”

Martin Müller, “The Mega-Event Syndrome: Why So Much Goes Wrong in Mega-Event Planning and What to Do About It,” Journal of the American Planning Association (May 2015).

Abstract: Mega-events such as the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup have become complex and transformative undertakings over the last 30 years, with costs often exceeding USD $10 billion. These events are currently planned and governed in ways that produce adverse effects for cities, regions, and residents. This study identifies a mega-event syndrome, a group of symptoms that occur together and afflict mega-event planning, including over promising benefits, underestimating costs, rewriting urban planning priorities to fit the event, using public resources for private interest, and suspending the regular rule of law. I describe each of these symptoms, providing empirical examples from different countries and mega-events, examining the underlying causes. The research is based on material from field visits to mega-event sites in 11 countries as well as 51 interviews with planners, managers, politicians, and consultants involved in mega-event planning.

Allison Stewart, “Knowledge Games: The Achievement of Ignorance in Managing Olympic and Commonwealth Mega-Events,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oxford, (2013).

Abstract/findings: The concept of ignorance has been unfairly stigmatized in research and practice, and consequently has not received the attention it deserves as a powerful motivator of behaviour in organizations. To understand the role of ignorance, it must be examined as a productive force rather than a shameful weakness, an achievement instead of a failure. This thesis develops an understanding of how ignorance is achieved and why it is perpetuated in the context of managing the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, a series of worldwide mega-events that are popular with proponents of urban development, but which have experienced persistent organizational problems in the form of cost overruns, schedule delays, and scope creep. To do so, this research draws on literature about ignorance from the disciplines of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and organizational theory, to motivate an embedded case study of Games Organizing Committees (OCs) in six host cities around the world. These OCs, which were actively planning the Games during the research, are studied through qualitative research, to develop a dynamic understanding of the role of ignorance in planning the Games. The findings and analysis are presented from two perspectives: the structure of the ‘Games system’ and of the OC; and, the substance of Games planning in the areas of cost, time and scope. While other studies have focused on ignorance as necessary, strategic, and inadvertent, the original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the proposal of a theoretical framework that focuses on the functional and detrimental outcomes of ignorance. This framework is also shown to be useful in understanding why ignorance persists between organizations, and suggests three basic principles for further research: ignorance as a productive force in management; structure as a scaffold for ignorance; and budget, time and scope as catalysts for ignorance.

Ben Levy and Paul Berger, “On the Financial Advantage of Hosting the Olympics,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 3, no. 1 (January 2013): 11-20.

Abstract/findings: Mega Sporting Events generally are classified as the Olympics, World Cup, and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Championship in Europe. Since the significant positive economic impact of $2.3 billion realized by Los Angeles after the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, the number of bids by cities for these mega sporting events has increased significantly. Also, this success inspired economic evaluations of the Olympic Games to be conducted to better estimate the financial benefit to the host city. Utilizing improved methodologies, as well as superior data, models have found that, in reality, it is more difficult than anticipated to realize an economic benefit from hosting the Olympic Games. We conduct statistical analyses on the financial data for several of the Olympic cities since 1990. We also discuss data available from the British government which estimates the economic outcome of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Wolfgang Maennig and Felix Richter, “Exports and Olympic Games: Is There a Signal Effect?” Journal of Sports Economics 13, no. 6 (December 2012): 635-641.

Abstract/findings: A recent study finds that Olympic Games host countries experience significant positive, lasting effects on exports. They interpret their results as an indication that countries use the hosting of such events to signal openness and competitiveness. The authors challenge these empirical findings on the grounds that a comparison of structurally different and nonmatching groups of countries might suffer from a selection bias. The authors demonstrate that with an appropriate matching and treatment methodology, the significant Olympic effect disappears.

William P.J. McCarthy, “The Failed Experiment of Vancouver’s Olympic Village,” Rest Estate Issue (June 2012).

Abstract/findings: This article is a cautionary tale for cities that dream of hosting the Olympics, and explores the fallout, financial and otherwise, for the City of Vancouver. In 2003, the city won the international bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Included in the bid was a commitment to expend $30 million on athlete accommodations, known as Vancouver’s Olympic Village, for the two- week event. The author, himself a resident of Vancouver, described the continuing financial risk the city faced as the result of the decisions made in building this development.

Stephen Billings and J. Scott Holladay, “Should Cities Go for the Gold? The Long-Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics,” Economic Inquiry 50, no. 3 (July 2012): 754-772.

Abstract: The Summer Olympics bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and generate upward of $10 billion in spending for the host city. This large influx of tourism dollars is only part of the overall impact of hosting the Olympic Games. In order to host the visitors and sporting events, cities must make sizeable investments in infrastructure such as airports, arenas, and highways. Additionally, the publicity and international exposure of a host city may benefit international trade and capital flows. Proponents argue that this investment will pay off through increased economic growth, but research confirming these claims is lacking.

This paper examines whether hosting an Olympiad improves a city’s long-term growth. In order to control for the self-selection of cities that host Olympic Games, this paper matches Olympic host cities with cities that were finalists for the Olympic Games, but were not selected by the International Olympic Committee. A difference-in-difference estimator examines post-Olympic impacts for host cities between 1950 and 2005. Regression results provide no long-term impacts of hosting an Olympics on two measures of population, real Gross Domestic Product per capita and trade openness.

 

Stefan Szymanski, “About Winning: The political Economy of Award the World Cup and the Olympic Games,” SAIS Review, (2011), Vol. 31, No. 1, 87-97.

Abstract/findings: “The hosting of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup has become the subject of intense competition among nations. Governments seem willing to make large financial commitments in order to win the bidding competition but evidence suggests that the economic impact of this spending is limited. While this outcome is easily understood in terms of rent seeking behavior, it is suggested that organizations such as the IOC and FIFA could better serve their constituents by diverting competition away from lavish provision of facilities towards goals that would raise participation in sports…. The members of the IOC and the FIFA Executive Committees do little to discourage extravagant spending. The memberships of these organizations have frequently been accused of outright corruption in the past, but corruption is only one part of the problem. It is perfectly reasonable for the IOC and FIFA to extract a surplus from the sale of TV and sponsorship rights to fund the global development of sport. However, the unjustified claim that these events produce substantial economic benefits can (a) mislead people into believing that their taxes are being productively spent on social regeneration rather than just funding mass entertainment, and (b) lead some private individuals to invest their own wealth in the expectation that an event will generate returns when it is unlikely to do so.”

Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart, “Olympic Proportions: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Olympics 1960-2012,” Saïd Business School Working Papers, University of Oxford, (June 2012).

Abstract: We discovered that the Games stand out in two distinct ways compared to other megaprojects: (1) The Games overrun with 100 per cent consistency. No other type of megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overrun. Other project types are typically on budget from time to time, but not the Olympics. (2) With an average cost overrun in real terms of 179 per cent – and 324 per cent in nominal terms – overruns in the Games have historically been significantly larger than for other types of megaprojects, including infrastructure, construction, ICT, and dams. The data thus show that for a city and nation to decide to host the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most financially risky type of megaproject that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.

Robert Baumann, Bryan Engelhardt, and Victor Matheson, “Employment Effects of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah,” Journal of Economics and Statistics 232, no. 3 (May 2012).

Abstract/findings: Local, state, and federal governments, along with the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee, spent $1.9 billion in planning and hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Event promoters suggested that the Games would increase employment in the state by 35,000 job-years. We investigate whether the 2002 Winter Olympics actually increased employment finding that the Games’ impact was a fraction of that claimed by boosters. While the Salt Lake City Olympics did increase employment overall by between 4,000 and 7,000 jobs, these gains were concentrated in the leisure industry, and the Games had little to no effect on employment after 12 months.

Lynn Minnaert, “An Olympic Legacy for all? The Non-infrastructural Outcomes of the Olympic Games for Socially Excluded Groups (Atlanta 1996–Beijing 2008),” Tourism Management 33, no. 2 (April 2012).

Abstract/findings: This study examines data from 7 Olympic cities (Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin and Beijing). It shows that the Olympic Games generally bring few benefits for socially excluded groups, although these benefits are often important justifications in the bidding stage.

James Giesecke and John Madden, “Modelling the Economic Impacts of the Sydney Olympics in Retrospect: Game Over for the Bonanza Story?” Economic Papers 30, no. 2 (June 2011).

Abstract/findings: Do the large economic benefits predicted for Olympics host countries actually materialise? We re-examine the Sydney 2000 Olympics via historical modelling with a multiregional dynamic computable general equilibrium model, taking care to avoid sources of overestimation, such as elastic factor supply assumptions; failure to treat public inputs as costs; and overestimation of foreign tourism demand impacts. We first conduct a simulation from 1997/1998 to 2005/2006 to construct a base case and to assess the extent of Olympics- induced awareness of Australia on tourism demand. Our historical simulation results which are driven by observed values for economic variables, including tourism statistics, do not provide support for the presence of induced tourism.

We then conduct a simulation for a no-Sydney Olympics counterfactual and find that the Olympics generated a real consumption loss of $2.1 billion.

Victor Matheson, “Economic Multipliers and Mega-Event Analysis,” International Journal of Sports Finance 4, no. 1 (February 2009).

Abstract: Critics of economic impact studies that purport to show that mega-events such as the Olympics bring large benefits to the communities “lucky” enough to host them frequently cite the use of inappropriate multipliers as a primary reason why these impact studies overstate the true economic gains to the hosts of these events. This brief paper shows in a numerical example how mega-events may lead to inflated multipliers and exaggerated claims of economic benefits.

Excerpt: “In estimating economic impacts from mega-events, analysts frequently use multipliers derived from input-output tables based on the normal state of the economy even though the presence of a large temporary tourist attraction such as a World’s Fair, the Olympics, or the World Cup indicates a departure from this normal state. Mega-events are characterized by high utilization rates and increased prices for tourism related industries. While labor may benefit to some extent through increases in hours worked or higher tips, the main recipient of this windfall is likely to be business owners.”

Victor Matheson, “Mega-Events: The Effect of the World’s Biggest Sporting Events on Local, Regional, and National Economies,” in The Business of Sports, vol. 1, eds. Dennis Howard and Brad Humphreys (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2008), 81-99.

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the economics of sports mega-events as well as a review of the existing literature in the field. The paper describes why boosters’ ex ante estimates of the economic impact of large sporting events tend to exaggerate the net economic benefits of these events and surveys the results of a large number of ex post studies of exploring the true impact of mega- events.

Philip Porter and Debraoh Fletcher, “The Economic Impact of the Olympic Games: Ex Ante Predictions and Ex Poste Reality,” Journal of Sports Management 22, no. 4 (July 2008): 470-86.

Abstract: This article uses data from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to test the predictions of regional input-output models. Real changes associated with these events are insignificant. Nominal measures of demand overstate demand increases and factor price increases absorb the impact of real increases in demand. Nominal changes appear to be limited to hotel prices. Input-output models of a regional economy are often used to predict the impact of short-duration sporting events. Because I-O models assume constant factor prices and technical coefficients between sectors are calibrated from long-run steady state relations in the regional economy, the predictions greatly overstate the true impact. Because the predictions of these models are increasingly used to justify public subsidies, understanding these deficiencies is crucial.

Robert Baade, “The Economic Impact of Mega Sports Events,” Elgar Companion to the Economics of Sports, eds. Wladimir Andreff and Stefan Szymanski (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007), 177-182.

Conclusion: “Cities and countries compete intensively for the right to host sports mega- events. The public expenditures necessary to host such competitions are substantial. Those who advocate the use of public funds for such purpose promise an economic windfall in return, and offer economic impact studies to bolster their claims. There are reasons to be skeptical of the evidence offered by boosters, and the purpose of this chapter was to identify the errors and analyze the errors and omissions common to booster economic impact studies. It is hoped that those charged with evaluating public subsidies for elite athletic competitions will benefit from this analysis.”

Darren McHugh, “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of an Olympic Games,” SNNR (August 2006).

Abstract/findings: This paper attempts to estimate the net benefit to Canada of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Two particular classes of problems in Olympic CBA are studied in detail. The first is the unique nature of project dependency in an Olympic Games, and this is surmounted by the classification of Olympic-related costs and benefits as “Event-related” or “Infrastructure- related”, with rules for handing each in the context of a CBA for an Olympic Games. The second is the estimation of net benefit of three types of “Olympic Outputs”, namely the Olympic Spectacle, the Olympic Halo (the feelings of pride engendered in the residents of the host city), and the tourism induced by an Olympic Games. One key result of the paper is that a correct accounting of induced Olympic tourism shows that the net benefit of this tourism is substantially less than its widely touted “economic impact”. Although a detailed estimation of infrastructure costs and benefits is outside the scope of the paper, their contribution to the net benefit of the Games under the proposed project accounting rules is clearly negative. The net benefit of the Olympic Games is therefore also substantially negative when the estimates of Olympic benefits from this paper are combined with published estimates for event costs.

Jeffrey Owen, “Estimating the Cost and Benefit of Hosting Olympic Games: What Can Beijing Expect from Its 2008 Games?” The Industrial Geographer 3, no. 1 (2005).

Abstract: Cities who host the Olympic Games must commit to significant investments in sports venues and other infrastructure. It is commonly assumed that the scale of such an event and the scale of the preparation for it will create large and lasting economic benefits to the host city. Economic impact studies confirm these expectations by forecasting economic benefits in the billions of dollars.

Unfortunately these studies are filled with misapplications of economic theory that virtually guarantee their projections will be large. Ex-post studies have consistently found no evidence of positive economic impacts from mega- sporting events even remotely approaching the estimates in economic impact studies. For the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, it appears China will take these massive investments in venues and infrastructure to a new level. If organizers of the Beijing Games base their expectations on economic impact studies from previous Olympics, they are sure to be disappointed. The potential for long term economic benefits from the Beijing Games will depend critically on how well Olympics related investments in venues and infrastructure can be incorporated into the overall economy in the years following the Games.

Malfas, B. Theodoraki, and B. Houlihan, “Impacts of the Olympic Games as Megaevents,” Proceedings of the ICE- Municipal Engineer 157, no. 3 (September 2004).

Abstract/findings: Mega sporting events can be defined by their impacts and complexity in organization and delivery. This paper reviews the literature on the features of such events and, drawing particular examples from recent Olympic Games, it identifies the nature and extent of their impacts on the host country and community. These range from the political, social, economical, physical and cultural and can be negative as well as positive. The paper concludes that while the prospect of economic growth is the driving force behind bids for hosting the Olympic Games, the legacies that follow their hosting are difficult to quantify, prone to political interpretation and multifaceted.

Andrew Zimbalist. (2015). “The Illusory Economic Gains from Hosting the Olympics World Cup.” World Economics vol. 16, issue 1. Retrieved from http:// econpapers.repec.org/article/wejwldecn/606.htm.

Abstract: The IOC’s Olympic Games and FIFA’s World Cup are the two most popular global sporting events. Winning the rights to host these competitions comes with great fanfare. Yet except under special circumstances, the scholarly evidence suggests that hosting either event is no economic bargain for the host city or country. Short-run costs for venue construction and operations invariably exceed Games-related revenues by billions of dollars and long-term gains are elusive. The bidding process to host is structured such that a monopolist auctions off the rights to a world of competitors. The top bidder is likely to experience a winner’s curse.

Evangelia Kasimati. “Economic Aspects and the Summer Olympics: A review of Related Research.” International Journal of Tourism Research, 2003, Vol. 5, 433-444, doi: 10.1002/jtr.449.

Findings: “Covering the period of 1984 through to [estimates of] 2012, all the ex ante [anticipating the event] economic studies indicate the significant role of the Summer Olympic Games in the promotion of the host economy. They highlighted the extension of the Games economic impact well beyond the actual period of the event occurrence itself. Economic growth, increased tourism and additional employment were some of their major findings. However, the high expectations released by most of them could be considered to be potentially biased, because the ambition of those commissioning the studies is to favour the hosting of the Games. This issue has received a great deal of attention from scholars investigating the Games and other mega-events (Mills, 1993; Crompton, 1995; Howard and Crompton, 1995; Kesenne, 1999; Porter, 1999; Preuss, 2000; Baade and Matheson, 2002). Nevertheless, it is our opinion that if the estimation process is made transparent, then the findings are reliable.

Taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of all the methods and techniques used, the discussion here shows that ex ante models and forecasts were not confirmed by ex-post analyses and this therefore prompts the need for improved theory.”

R.A. Baade, V. Matheson. “Bidding for the Olympics: Fool’s Gold?” Paper in Barros C; Ibrahimo M.; Szymanski . S. (Eds.), Transatlantic Sport: the Comparative Economics of North America and European Sports, 2002, 127-151.

Findings: “The purpose of this paper was to assess the economic impact of the Summer Olympic Games on Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996. In so doing, it was our hope that we could provide some useful information to cities bidding for the Games. It is conceivable that an after-the-fact sober appraisal of the economic contribution of the Games could help temper some of the excesses that have been brought to light by the well-publicized ‘overzealous’ behavior of those who succeeded in bringing the Olympics to Salt Lake City and Atlanta. Los Angeles and Atlanta represent an interesting contrast in terms of their approaches to the bidding process. This difference reflects to a substantial extent past financial experiences. In the wake of the financially troubled Montreal and Moscow Olympic Games in 1976 and 1980, only Los Angeles bid for the 1984 Games.

This fact explains the absence of significant public sector financial support in Los Angeles, and, perhaps, the private financial success the 1984 Games are thought to have enjoyed. The increase in economic activity attributable to the 1984 Games, as represented by job growth, an estimated 5,043 full-time and part-time jobs using our model, appears to have been entirely transitory, however. There is no economic residue that can be identified once the Games left town. Los Angeles was not visibly affected by the experience; certainly it was not transformed by it. Atlanta represented a return to the extraordinary levels of public spending associated with the Olympic Games in 1976 and 1980, a phenomenon not coincidentally associated with several cities bidding for the right to host the Games… It is not surprising that the best-case scenario for the Atlanta Games of 1996 is consistent with what we could reasonably expect to find for public investments in general. More specifically if beginning in 1994 all the economic growth beyond Atlanta’s normal experience could be attributable to public expenditures in conjunction with the Olympics, Atlanta spent approximately $63,000 to create a permanent full- or part-time job. To create a permanent full-time job equivalent, past public works programs have spent approximately the same amount of money.”

Dennis Coates and Victor A Matheson. “Mega-events and Housing Costs: Raising the Rent while Raising the Roof?” The Annals of Regional Science, 2011, Vol. 46, No. 1, 119-137, doi: 10.1007/s00168-009-0340-5.

Abstract: “This paper examines the relationship between hosting mega-events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Cup and rental housing prices in host cities. If mega-events are amenities for local residents, then rental housing prices can serve as a proxy for estimating residents’ willingness to pay for these amenities. An analysis of rental prices in a panel of American cities from 1993 to 2005 fails to find a consistent impact of mega-events on rental prices. When controls are placed on the regression models to account for nationwide annual fluctuations in rental prices, mega-events generally exhibit little impact on rental prices in cities as a whole and are as likely to reduce rental prices as increase them…. Somewhat stronger evidence exists, however, that mega-events tend to affect rental prices outside of the center city in a fundamentally different manner than in the city core. Atlanta experienced lower rental prices in the central city compared the suburbs both before and after the 1996 Summer Olympics while Salt Lake City witnessed an increase in rental prices in its central city compared to its suburbs before and after the 2002 Winter Olympics.”

Georgios Kavestos. “The Impact of the London Olympics on Property Prices.” Urban Studies, May 2012, Vol. 49, No. 7, 1453-1470, doi: 10.1177/0042098011415436.

Abstract: “This study estimates the impact of the London 2012 Olympics announcement on property prices. Using a self-constructed dataset of a sample of property transactions, it is estimated that properties in host boroughs are sold between 2.1% and 3.3% higher, depending on the definition of the impact area. A similar investigation based on radius rings suggests that properties up to three miles away from the main Olympic stadium sell for 5% higher. It is estimated that the overall impact on the price of properties in host boroughs amounts to £1.4 billion, having substantial social and financial implications for existing residents.”

Andrew Rose and Mark M. Spiegel, Mark M. “The Olympic Effect.” The Economic Journal, June 2011, 652-677, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02407.x.

Abstract: “Why should countries offer to host costly ‘mega-events’ such as the Olympic Games? We show that hosting a mega-event increases exports. This effect is statistically robust, permanent and large; trade is over 20% higher for host countries. Interestingly, unsuccessful bids to host the Olympics have a similar impact on exports. We conclude that the Olympic effect on trade is attributable to the signal a country sends when bidding to host the games, rather than the act of actually holding a mega-event. We develop an appropriate formal model and derive conditions under which liberalizing countries will signal through a mega-event bid.”

Robert Baumann, Bryan Engelhardt and Victor Matheson. “The Labor Market Effects of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.” Working paper series, International Association of Sports Economists, (September 2010).

Abstract: “The local, state, and federal governments, along with the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee, spent roughly $1.9 billion in direct costs related to planning and hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In this paper, we investigate whether these expenditures increased employment. At the state level, we find strong evidence it increased leisure related industries in the short run and potentially in the long run. However, the results indicate it had no long term impact on trade or total employment.”

Li Zhang and Simon Xiaobin. “City Branding and the Olympic Effect: A Case Study of Beijing.” Cities, October 2009, Vol. 26, Issue 5, Pages 245-254, doi: 10.1016/ j.cities.2009.05.002.

Abstract: “City branding is a common practice adopted by many cities in the context of intensified urban competition for mobile resources, markets, opportunities and attention. This paper examines the effectiveness of efforts to brand Beijing, the capital city of China. Based on an analysis of official branding strategies through the Olympics, and an attitudinal survey of peoples’ understanding of Beijing, the paper investigates to what extent the current campaign has caught the city’s good attributes. The paper finds a mismatch between the identity and core values as branded by the city government, and the realities as experienced by visitors and residents. The paper argues that the Beijing Olympics could only have limited impacts on the city’s brand.”

Evangelia Kasimati and Peter Dawson. “Assessing the Impact of the 2004 Olympic Games o n the Greek Economy: A Small Macroeconometric Model.” Economic Modelling, January 2009, Vol. 26, Issue 1, 139-146, doi: 10.1016/j.econmod. 2008.06.006.

Abstract: “This paper examines the impact of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games on the Greek economy. Using a small aggregate macroeconometric model we find evidence to support the view that the Olympics is an event that could successfully boost the economy of the host city by generating benefits that outweigh the preparation cost. Consistent with recent literature in this area, whilst the impact effects are quite strong during the preparation phase and the year the Games took place, the long-term economic legacy effects appear to be quite modest.”

John R Madden. “The Economic Consequences of the Sydney Olympics.” Current Issues in Tourism, 2002, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 7-21doi: 10.1080/13683500208667904.

Abstract: “This paper assesses the economic impact of the 2000 Olympics. It draws on economic modelling I undertook for Arthur Andersen (financial adviser to the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games).The analysis is undertaken with a large-scale multiregional computable general equilibrium model, so as to take into account both the positive and negative flow-on effects of Sydney staging the Games. The effects of Olympics construction and operating expenditure, and of spending by Games visitors and additional tourists are modelled over a 12-year period, under specific assumptions regarding the Australian labour market, capital supply constraints and Australian government policy on foreign debt. Olympics expenditure not funded by Games revenues is modelled as being met by an increase in New South Wales state tax revenues (via a larger revenue base and slightly higher tax rates than would otherwise be the case) and a substantial diversion of government expenditure from non-Olympic to Olympic items. Simulation results indicate that NSW activity is 0.3% higher over the 12-year period due to the Games, but there is little effect on the other states. However, the final outcome is sensitive to the degree the Olympics promotes tourism from overseas and the labour market reaction.”

Georgios Kavestos and Stefan Szymanski. “National Well-Being and International Sports Events.” Journal of Economic Psychology, 2010, Vol. 31, Issue 2, 158-171, doi:10.1016/j.joep.2009.11.005.

Abstract/findings: “The widely proclaimed economic benefits of hosting major sporting events have received substantial criticism by academic economists and have been shown to be negligible, at best. The aim of this paper is to formally examine the existence of another potential impact: national well-being or the so- called ‘‘feelgood” factor. Using data on self-reported life satisfaction for twelve European countries we test for the impact of hosting and of national athletic success on happiness. Our data covers three different major events: the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship.

We find that the ‘‘feelgood” factor associated with hosting football events is large and significant, but that the impact of national athletic success on happiness, while correctly signed, is statistically insignificant.

Mark Falcous and Michael L. Silk. “Olympic Bidding, Multicultural Nationalism, Terror, and the Epistemologiccal Violence of ‘Making Britain Proud.’ Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, October 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 2, 167-186, doi: 10.1111/j.1754-9469.2010.01073.x.

Abstract: “This paper excavates the entanglement of British nationalist identity politics with sport, terrorism, place re-imagining, mega-event bidding, and corporate neoliberalism. We focus on London’s 2012 Olympic bidding and the coalescence of corporate, state, civic, and sporting interests surrounding the national (re)imaginings that characterized the bid. We open with a critical reading of the bid narratives explicating how selective assertions of Britishness were envisioned through the motifs of harmonious multicultural unity, ‘youth,’ and passion for sport. We focus on how these narratives offered up ‘idealized’ multicultural citizens and harmonious diversity as a reactionary form of nationalist ‘pride politics’ (Fortier 2005). We subsequently juxtapose these narratives with a critical reading of English press and political discourse in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 bombings — the day after London was awarded the Olympic games. This juxtaposition reveals the tensions and ambiguities between assertions of inclusive civic nationalism — that apparently transcends ethnic difference — and the geo-politics of the ‘war on terror’ within Britain’s post-imperial self imaginings. Specifically, we tease out the place — and ambiguities — of the 2012 olympics within these imaginings reading the London games as an exemplar of a soft-core ideological spectacle informing selective nationalist narratives within the the context of unfolding neoliberal politics.”

Darren McHugh, “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of an Olympic Games,” Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=974724 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.974724. (August 2006).

Abstract/findings: This paper attempts to estimate the net benefit to Canada of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Two particular classes of problems in Olympic CBA are studied in detail. The first is the unique nature of project dependency in an Olympic Games, and this is surmounted by the classification of Olympic-related costs and benefits as “Event-related” or “Infrastructure- related”, with rules for handing each in the context of a CBA for an Olympic Games. The second is the estimation of net benefit of three types of “Olympic Outputs”, namely the Olympic Spectacle, the Olympic Halo (the feelings of pride engendered in the residents of the host city), and the tourism induced by an Olympic Games. One key result of the paper is that a correct accounting of induced Olympic tourism shows that the net benefit of this tourism is substantially less than its widely touted “economic impact”. Although a detailed estimation of infrastructure costs and benefits is outside the scope of the paper, their contribution to the net benefit of the Games under the proposed project accounting rules is clearly negative. The net benefit of the Olympic Games is therefore also substantially negative when the estimates of Olympic benefits from this paper are combined with published estimates for event costs.

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