GC2018 has been hailed as one of the most successful Commonwealth Games ever. With over 6000 competitors from 71 nations participating in a range of sports from athletics and gymnastics through to mountain biking and lawn bowls, it’s certainly been a fantastic and enjoyable spectacle. But if you live or work in the Gold Coast, you might have a different view. The influx of visitors and increased traffic, let along the years of construction that preceded the Games, may have given you a jaundiced view. So, is it really worth hosting a major sporting event? Let’s find out about the advantages and disadvantages.
Global recognition: Hosting a major sporting event will undoubtedly raise the international profile of the host city. The worldwide TV audience for GC2018 has been estimated to be 1.5 billion and the Games have brought in over 100,000 visitors. There’s no doubt that hosting the Commonwealth Games has generated global recognition and increased tourism for the Gold Coast and wider Queensland. It’s also true that the effects are likely to be felt well into the future.
Improved infrastructure: Hosting major sporting events also brings in its wake improved infrastructure for the host city. Queensland and the Gold Coast have benefitted from the development of three new competition venues as well as major upgrades to a further seven facilities. These will provide important sport and community facilities to Queenslanders for many years to come. In addition, the city has seen improvements to public transport as well as general public works.
Legacy programmes: Nowadays, host cities of major sporting events are required to produce comprehensive legacy programmes that detail the long-term economic and social benefits for residents and the local area. This is an important step forward as it does away with the problems apparent after the 2004 Athens Olympics which saw few of the Olympic facilities being put to good use once the Games finished.
Cost: Hosting a major sporting event is a very expensive affair. The cost of hosting GC2018 to Queensland’s taxpayers is in the region of $2 billion or some $300,000 per athlete. And the price for Russia hosting arguably the biggest global sporting event – the 2018 FIFA World Cup is an incredible US$10 billion.
In this context, we also have to mention the cost of developing a failed bid for such sporting events. For example, England missed out on hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup, but that failed bid cost the country £21 million to put together.
Is It Worth It?
Certainly, the benefits can be huge. The improvements in facilities, transport and public works programmes will have long-term benefits on the health and wellbeing of local communities. What’s more, the increased visitor numbers spending significant amounts of money will have a great impact on the local economy. However, it’s the global exposure and the long-term effect on tourism that probably has the greatest impact. You only have to look to the example of Beijing to see what a difference successful event hosting can have on your global brand. Prior to the 2008 Olympics, Beijing was treated with suspicion on the world stage due to China’s poor human rights record. The phenomenal success of the Games, however, turned that around.
Is it worth the fantastic cost? Well, probably on balance the benefits outweigh the costs, especially over the long term. But that’s assuming, that you’ve made a successful bid in the first place of course, otherwise it’s an entirely different story!