By Helee Shukla
International community events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, elicit waves of mass tourism to its host country, calling for intensive expansion in its infrastructure and hospitality sectors. However, these countries must tread lightly as the long-term financial implications of these global events can be fatal.
Many of these implications arise from accommodating the surge of incoming people into the host country. To put this into perspective, Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host country, holds a GDP of $180 billion this year, yet has spent an astounding $220 billion over 12 years on the World Cup. A small portion of this amount was dedicated to constructing seven new stadiums, with the rest towards transportation and hospitality services. Additionally, people have pointed out how these expensive utilities are not serving the intended number of people.
“Throughout my trip to Qatar, I went to five matches, and three of them shared the same stadium,” junior Nicholas Prada said. “As far as the infrastructure, these stadiums were beautifully built and accompanied with many staff members to ensure your safety and passage. As far as costs go, I have no idea how Qatar will recuperate because, as seen on TV and through my first-hand experience in the stadium, there are many empty seats. When they reveal the attendance, it feels nowhere close to the actual number of people in the stadiums.”
While these infrastructure advancements certainly streamlined hosting the World Cup, the majority of them will serve no purpose in Qatar’s day-to-day economy and quality of life, considering that the country only holds 300,000 permanent residents.
Artwork by Saffah Azeem
Hundreds of hotels, stadiums and highways will either go unused or be scrapped and sold. If the former, then Qatar may need additional expenditures to maintain them.
Historically, organizing such events has taken a considerable toll on the respective hosts’ economies. The 2004 Olympics in Greece left it $14.5 billion in debt, with some arguing it contributed to the country’s, at the time, ongoing government-debt crisis.
Contrastingly, the UK, a financially stable nation, enjoyed a billion dollars towards its yearly economic output after only one year of repaying its debt from the 2012 Olympics. However, the boroughs that did not see advancements to the metro, living spaces and parks amid East London’s Olympics-centered infrastructure projects have suffered an increased gap in median earnings.
It appears that less developed nations do not reap the nationwide economic benefits that developed countries do. Instead, wealthier nations’ negative financial implications lie in gentrification and worsening the class divide.
“However, these countries must tread lightly as the long-term financial implications of these global events can be fatal...”
Likewise, as expansive residential projects kickstart to provide housing for competing athletes in France, current and prospective homeowners may be threatened by increasing property prices. The country commenced construction of an 86,000-acre town to house athletes in St. Denis, one of Paris’s poorest suburbs, for the 2024 Olympics. It is advertised to these athletes as offering lavish office spaces, luxurious hotels, and a grand exhibition center. For low and middle-class homeowners, however, these advancements entail an estimated 15% increase in property costs.
Rapid infrastructural innovation in preparation for hosting global events engender a spike in federal debt and a trough in wealth distribution. In situations where the economy prospers, the individual suffers, posing the question of whether hosting these mega-sports events will ever truly advance a nation.