After hosting the most expensive World Cup, Brazil will hold the 2016 Olympic Games. The country has spent over $10 billion on the World Cup, and the Olympics will require even more construction. Brazil will have invested roughly $43 billion for the combined month-and-a-half of sports, which translates to spending almost a billion dollars a day hosting these two mega events. The citizens of Brazil may be disappointed what they are getting in return for their investment besides stadiums.
For the Olympics, Brazil is planning to reuse the World Cup stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador as well three stadiums from the 2007 Pan-America Games. Brazil, like other host countries, have found that many Olympic sports are not popular and struggle to adapt their venues. There are some exceptions: The field hockey stadium for the Olympics may be converted into a soccer field and community center. Even though soccer is very popular in Brazil, the World Cup stadiums are struggling to find teams with a fan base that will fill the venues. Last September, media sources such as Bloomberg reported that the $285 million Amazonia Arena may become a prison processing center after it hosts its four World Cup matches. Otherwise, there has been very little discussion on what will happen to the World Cup stadiums after the event.
AECOM, an international development firm, has been working with Rio on the reuse of the Olympic Park. So far their are plans for turning the handball court into four schools, but most of the development will be controlled privately by the Rio Mais Consortium, which plans to build apartment blocks, offices and shopping malls. Donald Trump may get in the action and build three mirrored glass towers (pictured above). The main concern is that the Olympic park is 95 percent publicly funded and 40 percent of the Olympics budget, but is located on a peninsula next to some of the wealthier 5 percent and is only accessible to 13 percent of Rio’s 6.32 million residents. The fears of residents of favelas near Olympic Park are slowly being confirmed. Residents such as Elias Serafim believe that “After the games, they will build princely condominiums for beautiful and wealthy people – not for the ugly and poor like us.”
The intense competition over World Cup and the Olympics bids creates white elephants and drives up costs because each bid tries to outdo the other. Up to $100 million has been spent on a bid and the bids themselves are based on facilities and guaranteeing financing and security and not looked at as a long-term business investment. The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles is hailed as the most successful financially and that is because there were no other bidders because of Montreal’s financially disastrous Olympics. Even then, the International Olympic Committee agreed to Los Angeles’ demand that it should not have to bear any financial obligations. Very little thought is put into the legacy of these events and it assumed that Olympics and World Cup will be a catalyst for growth. Allen Sanderson and Samantha Edd along found that the Olympics do not lead to an increase in construction, tourism, and financial services and if:
“. . . the Olympics did not lead to that growth . . . the host cities should have chosen to construct facilities most needed that might lead to substantial economic growth, and pursue other ways to attract more tourist and people to the area such as renovating historic area, and building new facilities such as attractions and schools.”