It has been over a year since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The exact figures have not yet been released and probably won’t be for quite some time yet; however, most experts close to the situation expect that the cost could rise above $20 billion. The Rio Games came just two years after the 2014 World Cup that cost Brazil roughly $15 billion to host. Many people questioned the morality of FIFA and the IOC for awarding the expensive events to a city in turmoil. Morality issues aside, one must look at the nation itself when it comes to placing blame. Clearly, there were more important things that Brazil could have spent $35 billion on such as their crumbling infrastructure, educational issues, and public services to name a few. Regardless, countries are still going to fall into the trap of believing that hosting world events like this will help establish them as a world power, when instead it pushes them farther from it.
It Wasn’t Always This Way
The Olympics were not always a means to show how powerful you were as a nation, but instead, they were a sideshow to much more important and exclusive events like World Fairs and Imperial Exhibitions. Since the Games were not the focal point early on, it was easier for host nations to stick to their budget when preparing for such an event. Things changed in 1936, when Berlin decided to make it a big spectacle. Adolf Hitler became the first world leader to systematically connect the Olympics with the political ideology of cementing itself as one of the most powerful countries in the world. Since then, the costs have grown, which is ironic, because the countries selected to host the events have become smaller and less powerful than years past.
The next World Cup is set to be held in Russia, and after that, Qatar. The first problem with this is that FIFA refuses to work with the IOC to strategically distribute the world events. Russia, more specifically Sochi, just played host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, which cost a record-breaking $55 billion. Now, the world power will need to foot the bill to host the world’s biggest single-sport tournament just four years later. That still doesn’t even compare to the fact that Qatar was awarded the following World Cup. In 2014, it was estimated that about 3.43 million people attended the World Cup in Brazil, which is nearly one million more than Qatar’s entire population. Unlike Brazil and Russia, Qatar does not have any notable professional sports associations; therefore, the newly constructed infrastructure will become abandoned immediately following the completion of the event. Seems worth it, right?