Mega-Sporting Events in Developing Nations: Playing the way to Prosperity?
Supporters of mega-sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics claim that these events attract hoards of wealthy visitors and lead to lasting economic benefits for the host regions. For this reason, cities and countries compete vigorously for the right to stage these spectacles. Recently, developing countries have become increasingly vocal in demanding that they get the right to share in the economic benefits of these international games. China, for example, has been awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics, and an African nation seems destined to host the 2010 World Cup. The specialized infrastructure and operating expenses required to host these events, however, can be extremely costly, and it is not at all clear that either the long or short-term benefits of the games are anywhere nearly large enough to cover these costs. This paper reviews other researchers' as well as our own previous work on mega-sporting events such as the Super Bowl and World Series as well as international events like the World Cup and Olympics. Independent researchers nearly unanimously find that boosters' projections of the economic impact of sporting events exaggerate the true economic impact of these competitions by a wide margin. In particular, in this paper we focus on the particular circumstances that face developing countries hosting these games. Our research suggests that in most cases mega-sporting events are an even worse investment for developing countries than for industrialized countries.
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