Five-Ring Circus: Do Host Cities Win or Lose with the Olympic Games?

Many cities aspire to host the Olympic Games, believing that the Games will spur local development. This article discusses the recent failed bid by Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games and argues that being the Olympic Games venue usually costs rather than making money for the city. Development related to the Games is often underfunded and overambitious, and seldom meets the goals that local organizers had hoped to achieve. In Chicago, the total cost of staging and preparation was estimated at $4.8 million, a cost that some critics claimed was grossly underestimated. Host cities must incur the cost of building Olympic-specific facilities such as pools, as well as infrastructure that will continue to return value after the event is over. Although many improvements that are made in transportation infrastructure are still utilized even after the Games, some of these improvements, such as transit links to the Olympic Village, cannot be fully utilized after the Olympic crowds disperse. At least four recent host cities are still paying off the debt incurred in preparing for the Olympics. Contrary to claims by Olympic boosters, the Olympics rarely generate a substantial increase in tourism and economic growth. The legacy of the Olympic Games in terms of improved social, environmental, cultural and economic life is debatable. Although the national governments heavily subsidize the costs in many parts of Europe and Asia, this is not necessarily true in the United States. In the case of Chicago, almost half of polled residents did not want the Olympic Games to come to their city, many because of the fear that cost overruns would be funded using taxpayers' money.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 8-13
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01153327
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2010 4:05PM