Going for gold

Local Development Benefits from Staging Global Events
Two major international sporting events take place this summer, with the Olympic Games in Beijing and the European football championships in Austria and Switzerland. The question on many policymakers’ minds will be less about medals on the track or pitch, but whether holding such major events can make or break the cities that host them?
For many, the answer depends. Events can be risky affairs, with the huge expense of holding some of the biggest events making them affordable to just a handful of global cities. Even big cities can find the burden hard to bear, such as the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which left the city with expensive facilities that have no use, and a big bill to pay into the future.Still, the competition to host them is as intense as the event itself. Just look at the battle royal between Paris and London to host the 2012 Olympic Games. China’s bid to organise this year’s summer Olympics committed the country to one of its most ambitious construction projects since the building of the Great Wall two millennia ago, with a massive investment of $20 billion in environmental and infrastructure improvements. In soccer, South Africa hopes that being the first African country to host the World Cup, in 2010, will give the country a showcase and an economic boost.Sport is not the only hook for major events. There are also WTO summits, the Bali meeting on Climate Change, or a major fashion week in Paris or Tokyo. These mega events are not entirely gilt-edged, and merely bidding for the Olympic Games or other such events is a costly exercise.Still, for the OECD report, Local Development Benefits from Staging Global Events, revenue from the event is not the only goal, but also innovation and community development. Organising an event can create solidarity and purpose, building confidence, advertising and more. Kiev, for instance, which was the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, used the occasion to promote Ukraine’s European identity.There are long-term spin-offs that make the enterprise worthwhile. Take the Turin winter Olympics in 2006. The city in northern Italy used the games to jettison its industrial city image and rebrand itself as a vibrant cultural capital. It now attracts more international gatherings, including the 2007 Winter Universiade.Staging a mega event is not all fun and games, not only because of the risk of losing money but also the political stakes. Security measures add to a venue’s cost, especially when it brings political protests, like Seattle’s WTO meeting in 1999 or indeed the tussles over the Olympic torch as it passed around the globe in 2008. Returns are possible, of course. The Scottish government estimated the cost of holding the G8 summit in Edinburgh in 2005 at £60 million, but the value of worldwide media coverage was assessed at over £66 million.ISBN 9789264042063©OECD Observer No 267 May-June 2008



Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017