Before you read any further, take a moment to imagine what it would be like if an Islamic Arab country hosted the Olympics. Forget the manufactured controversies and stereotypical assumptions about such a place. Now imagine that the nation is not Saudi Arabia but Dubai—a city in which women race camels and drive cars, in which Muslims and Jews worship alongside Christians, where non-Muslim expats outnumber locals and everything from hookahs to mixed martial arts bouts are as commonplace as ever.
Now imagine the city hosting the Olympics.
This will not, in fact, happen. On April 8, 2010, Dubai’s ruling sheik, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced that his country would host the 2020 games instead. This followed intense competition from a wide variety of nations—including Brazil, Turkey and South Africa—for the chance to host in 2020.
Dubai’s bid has since proven profitable. Since the announcement, Dubai’s tourism industry has seen a boost in visitors, and with it a spurt in hotel development and other private sector investment. But while the Olympics would certainly provide a boost for Dubai, hosting the games is not merely an “investment.”
For starters, no piece of infrastructure could have that effect on a city of 2.5 million. The Olympics, in fact, would be a massive undertaking for the Persian Gulf state—as it has been for Beijing, which spent $40 billion on its 2008 games, and London, which commissioned an off-the-books transit system to accommodate the influx of tourists. But are these cities any less impressive than Dubai’s planned 8.5-billion dollar stadiums and a staff of 60,000?
And have we learned nothing from the 2008 Beijing games? As China’s GDP grew by 12 per cent the year after they hosted, its infrastructure has since been laid to waste. The Chinese government has spent the past three years digging itself out of massive debt—from which it could not recover without instigating widespread panic—and a recent government report reveals that a third of rural villages no longer have any running water.
Dubai 2021. Rich, luxurious and one of the most beautiful countries in the world
Dubai’s Olympic stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies, is in the process of being built for the games. It will reportedly be built on a man-made island off of Dubai emirate. The stadium itself will be 175 metres high, and its roof will reportedly be so large that it could cover all of Manhattan (including Central Park) with a blanket. Other features of the stadium will include a retractable roof and a retractable pitch, which can be rolled out onto the field.
In light of Dubai’s newly announced plans, we beg to ask: What is the true value of the Olympic games? And can host countries afford them?
The Olympics began in Greece in 776 BC. For thousands of years it was held every four years and was only open to male participants. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896 with 241 competitors.
In recent years, the Olympics have become a symbol of wealth and prestige all over the world. A few dozen of the most wealthy states in the world now stage them, and they are often attended by wealthier countries than the host ones themselves. “The games for which many countries still dream, but few can afford to host” is how the New York Times described it in 2008. At that time, Dubai was still months away from announcing its plans to host some sort of Olympic-like sports event.
Some other host countries have run into major problems financing the games. Here is a list of the most expensive Olympic games in history:
Tokyo, Japan, in 1964: $1.7 billion (in 2015 dollars)
Athens, Greece, in 2004: $4 billion (in 2015 dollars)
Beijing, China, in 2008: $8.8 billion (in 2015 dollars)
Sochi, Russia: $51 billion (in 2015 dollars)
The first and the last were reportedly financed with public money. The two others allegedly involved massive government corruption. This is a problem that other potential host cities have worried about. Paris, for example, appears to be the only city that succeeded in getting its bid rejected by the IOC due to an unwillingness to take public money.
Montreal officials worried that the organizing committee and “a few individuals,” would abuse the public money poured into the games to benefit themselves. The report of an inquiry into this by Quebec’s corruption unit is due in July.
But right now, no one is checking on the bill for Brazil’s games.
A massive international sporting event can be a wonderful economic boon for a city or country.
The Olympics is a sporting event that takes place every four years on an international calendar. It has been an event for almost 100 years and can have more than 10,000 athletes competing in it. The Olympics was given to the city of Athens, Greece in 1896 after the Greek War of Independence. Barcelona became the first city to host the Olympics twice; appearing in 1924 and then again in 1992.
Today, there are two types of games that are held during this event: summer and winter games. Summer Olympic Games typically last from July to August but some like Athens or Paris will go up until September or October while Winter Olympic Games usually take place from November to February/March with some going up until March or April as well.