Are major sporting events worth hosting?

Despite a bid that's "not fully compliant", Birmingham looks set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. But do international sports events bring more problems than benefits to their hosts?

Sidney Pinsent
30th October 2017
London's Olympic Stadium has been given a new lease of life as the home of West Ham. Image: Wikimedia Commons

London – 2012 Olympic Games

The justification in bidding for London 2012 was to encourage greater participation in sporting activity, especially in children, and to regenerate the East End of London in particular. Five years on, the legacy promised has caused debate. Some of the facilities used during the games are now open to the public, like the velodrome and aquatic centre, with the Olympic Stadium as West Ham's home ground. Realistically though, the Olympic Park is a desolate area, with little activity happening. Additionally, participation levels for sports clubs have shown little increase since the games. Although the games themselves were enjoyable, the legacy promised is clearly yet to be fulfilled.

Rebecca Johnson

Vancouver – 2010 Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics were the third games held in Canada, and one of the most ecological and green in the history. One of the main goals for the Vancouver Organizing Committee was to build environmentally friendly facilities. Once the Olympics were finished, the villages for the athletes were used as the models and examples of sustainable living in the country. But the Olympics in the beautiful Canadian city was not only about building eco-friendly constructions. The games encouraged people to help during the preparation and become volunteers. More than 70,000 locals became volunteers throughout the games, and it created a lot of job positions in the market.

Egle Vaitekenaite

Olympic Flame at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, with mountains in the background

The Olympic Flame burning during Vancouver's Winter Olympics. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Delhi – 2010 Commonwealth Games

When hosting a major sports tournament the organisers want to show to the world the great things about their cities, right? Well considering Delhi is one of the poorest, most congested and smelliest capitals in the world I’m sure they wanted to keep athletes away from the reality when they went 40 times over budget – that’s £7 billion. 400,000 people from slums were relocated without proper resettlement, 70 workers died in construction and those who survived were paid as little as £1 a day. All this under the control of politicians and contractors who have since been charged with corruption. Oops.

Sidney Pinsent

Beijing – 2008 Olympic Games

The Summer Olympics of 2008 took place in Beijing, the capital of China. The most expensive and at the same time the most watched Olympics in history created controversial opinions in the public. More than 30 new stadiums were built, the main subway of Beijing was doubled, and the new terminal was added to the airport. But while the great infrastructure and perfect facilities for the games were created, the preparation had its downsides as well. Unfair treatment of immigrant workers, the forcible removal of millions of people and big pollution was created. This event had both positive and negative impacts on the metropolitan city.

Egle Vaitekenaite

Beijing's Birdsnest Stadium under construction

Beijing's Birdsnest Stadium under construction. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rio – 2016 Olympic Games

State corruption, money laundering, Zika virus, security issues, pollution, and infrastructural nightmares… You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in thinking that the reputation of Rio de Janeiro as an Olympic host city didn’t get off to the best of starts. But it looks like it didn’t get off to the best of ‘ends’ either; just six months after the games, we were flooded with reports of the looting of Maracana Stadium, the water in one of the practise pools turning orange, and the whole Olympic Park being reduced to a ghost town. The summer games were meant to bring Rio to new heights, both athletically and also on the world stage, but as the impoverished favelas continue to overlook the neglected structures that cost the city so much, it’s difficult to see what Rio really gained from winning that Olympic bid back in 2009.

Emma Bancroft

Qatar – 2022 World Cup

The popularity of sporting events continues to increase, with events like the World Cup and Olympics attended and watched by millions. However, although these events can positively boost the economies of the host countries, they may not always be as positive as they seem. Take Qatar for instance, who are hosting the 2022 World Cup. The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International highlight the “serious exploitation” of the migrant workers hired to build the infrastructure, with migrants workers being vulnerable to systematic abuse. More needs to be done in order to ensure major world sporting events don’t contribute towards enabling poor behaviour.

Aida Daniel

Artist's impression of the main stadium for the Qatar 2022 World Cup

An innovative stadium is planned for the 2022 World Cup, but questions have been raised over the safety of its construction workers. Image: Wikimedia Commons

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