The sting of the spectacle
BY: EINAR SEVILLA
As a sports fan, I’m always torn between the effects mega-sporting events—like the Olympics and World Cup—have on me, and the effects these games have on the residents of the host-nation.
I was thrilled when I saw the new slope style skiers throwing down triple flips with big air at the Sochi Olympics, but I wasn’t too excited when reading the LA Times article about all the people in Sochi being displaced to make way for the Olympics.
Many claim that these mega-sporting events boost the host-nation’s economy, however there are some holes in that theory. Countries must invest a fortune into these events long before they see a dime of revenue from tourism or the event. Stadiums must be built, roads must be improved or created, and host-countries must find a way to support a mass influx of people entering the country at one time in one concentrated area.
The majority of the host countries for each Winter Olympics don’t know how to deal with the millions of people that arrive for the event because it is something they’ve never done before.
Sochi only has a population of 343,334 people and is 1,353 sq. miles.
In addition, many jobs are created in the construction, tourism and vendor industries, but those jobs disappear when the tourists do—leaving a majority of the population unemployed.
Not to mention all the stadiums that must be built for the games that will serve no purpose once the major event is over—just look at South Africa, who was left with 10 empty soccer stadiums.
However, most people are electrified when their country is selected to host these types of events then quickly see the ramifications of being the host-nation.
People protested against the World Cup in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Jan. 25, and instead of looking at the Brazilians’ grievances, many are talking about how the protests may harm public view of the event.
There can’t be protests in Sochi because there is a lot of government opposition to protests in Russia. I’m sure the many displaced people of Sochi would have loved to speak out against a world event that would turn their worlds upside-down.
The question must be asked: to what extent are these mega-sporting events worth having if they cause such havoc for the people who live in the host-countries?
The U.S. has tried for years now to be selected to host another Olympic games and—with the growing popularity of soccer—a World Cup, but it’s unclear if it would boost our economy or throw us into a further recession.
Perhaps people turn their cheek to the impacts of the event because of the spectacle of the games. The addition of nationalism to the games makes them more popular because every country wants to be on top at the end, and people will root for their country’s athletes with passion.
Even for me it’s hard not to get caught up in it all; I care for the well-being of people, but I cheer for the U.S. when we compete.