Critical Response: Today’s World Cup and Olympics (Zirin)

I would tend to agree with Zirin in that the focus of major sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup have surpassed the spirit of sport on which they were founded. His numerous examples of recent games do an excellent job of highlighting that. If you look at what he brings up, many of these cities are bidding on games for economic reasons and in the end the taxpayers are the one covering the ridiculous losses that occur.

Is it really worth it to demolish homes and displace hundreds of thousands of citizens just to create a pristine new stadium? As big a fan that I am of watching the Olympics on television, I do not believe that the event is worth sacrificing human rights for. The above example from Brazil is only one example of displacing citizens to create infrastructure for the Games. Zirin also lists Beijing in terms of doing similar things to their people.

Beside human rights violations, the economic impact to tax payers who have zero say in whether the Games come to their city is huge. The cost of the London Games was 10 fold the original estimation and taxpayers will be on the hook for years trying to get the city out of debt. Vancouver is in a similar boat.

While the Olympics do put a city on the world’s stage for several weeks and stimulates economic activity through tourism and general spending, those bidding need to have a broader view of the potential negative impacts. Is being in severe debt and moving the poor out of their homes really worth showcasing your city for only a couple of week.


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