Friday, 28 August 2015

Owe-lympic Myths: Olympics Are a Good Investment for Host City

Today's Owe-lympic Myth:

Myth 1: The Olympics are a good investment for Toronto

Economists that have looked at the Games see no long-term economic benefit.  In a recent NYTimes story, Philip Porter, an economist at the University of South Florida who has studied the impact of sporting events was quoted saying: “The bottom line is, every time we’ve looked — dozens of scholars, dozens of times — we find no real change in economic activity.”

Another specialist in sports economics, Andrew Zimbalist, in his recent book, Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup concludes that there are "no net economic gains." The wealthy, aka Millionaire Hucksters, profit; the rest of us pay. (In fact, Zimbalist wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Boston would be "lucky" to lose the Games. May Toronto be so lucky.)

Zimbalist cites the London 2012 Games.
They spent over $18 billion (all figures in USD). They took in $5 billion in Olympic revenues, leaving a deficit of $13 billion.

In a preliminary analysis of the just-ended Toronto Pan Am Games (in so far as it's possible without final numbers yet), The Globe and Mail pointed out that while there were winners among local businesses, there were losers as well.

It was a wash.

John Barber, in his column "The case against an Olympic bid," discusses cases, then cites yet another sports economist.
“Public opinion is catching up with the economic evidence,” Stefan Szymanski, professor of sports management and economics at the University of Michigan, noted recently with respect to Boston's abandoned bid.

Yes, the public does seem to be twigging to it: Taxpayers pay. Elites profit.

There is no argument about this.

Seriously. Try to find a reputable economist who will argue against it.

*Third in an ongoing and irregular series.

Previous posts:

Owe-lympics Myths: Reuse Pan Am Venues.

Owe-lympics Myth 5: Health and Fitness Legacy.

Toronto Star and Olympics: Something Stinks

Toronto Councillors' Twitter Accounts

10 People on Twitter

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