There may, as this paper argues, be a ‘feelgood’ factor in hosting sporting mega events, but as others have pointed out “Simply put, working-class people do not benefit from the Olympics. They’re told that they’ll benefit from the Olympics when they’re in the bidding stage, in an attempt to get the local population on board, but the benefits are always overstated.”
The uneven outcomes often hit our most disadvantaged. There is plenty of evidence where disadvantaged communities have lost out as the result of hosting an Olympics.
- Some 1.5 million residents were displaced for Beijing 2008;
- Favelas were flattened for “white elephant” stadiums, which sit empty after events end, destroying the homes of 77,000 people and accelerating policing, ahead of Rio 2016;
- Residents were evicted to facilitate Olympic development in East London for 2012;
Time will on tell what the impact of the Brisbane Olympics has our local communities. Sure, the city will get some nice updated sports infrastructure, but in communities where families struggle to get by day-to-day it is difficult to see how they will even be able to afford a ticket to watch Olympic events at these new stadiums, let alone benefit in any real meaningful way.
Regardless, those pushing for the Olympics and other mega-events will try to legitimate them via a raft of statements about social and economic benefits for all.
There is no denying that hosting the 2032 Olympics might bring a lift to some unmeasurable metric like ‘national pride’, but more so seems like a magic trick – look at my right hand and ignore what my left hand is doing. While people are cheering, others are running away with the loot.
If politicians want to leave a legacy from their time in office, then they should start by addressing some of the seriously pressing social and economic issues that exist, rather than trying to hoodwink us with another sporting mega-event.