Plan needed for after OlympicsThe Olympic Games bring enormous prestige and opportunity to the host country. The international spotlight shines on the city and country during the Olympic period as sports fans from around the world watch the various events.
During the Olympics, the economy can benefit from the construction of sports facilities and the tourism boom. Even social order and behavior can be upgraded as a country prepares to greet visitors from all around the world.
But these benefits come with a huge price tag. The 1976 Summer Olympics left the city of Montreal almost bankrupt with a debt of $1.48 billion. It took the city 30 years to pay off its Olympic-related debts, causing Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the “Big O,” to earn the nickname “the Big Owe.” The excessive expenditures of the 2004 Athens Olympics have been criticized for being a major factor in bankrupting the whole country. In short, the Olympics can be magic for a country, but they can also be a curse.
But hosting major international sports events does not necessarily have to be so damaging and extravagant. Norway economized by recycling existing venues as they prepared for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. A development committee studying the post-Games use of venues was created five years before the games.
As a result, the Lillehammer Games became a role model for hosting sustainable Olympics. The sustainability projects brought environmental and modernization to the city and nearby areas that went on making money as public attractions and tourist destinations for winter sports. Careful budgeting and thorough preparations for life after the Games are essential for maximizing the benefits from hosting the Olympic Games.
South Korea’s Pyeongchang has four years left before hosting its hard-won 2018 Winter Olympics. Government and municipality spending for building roads and sports venues has already committed 12.85 trillion won ($12.1 billion), and the bills will rise as the big day nears.
The city that strived so hard to win the bid, however, has no post-Olympics plans, with no department and no people working on what to do with the sports venues and tourist accommodations after the Games. It looks like the city could end up with huge debts and white elephants. To prevent the Olympics curse, the organizing committee must draw up a sustainability plan to use the momentum to boost the local cultural, sports and tourism industries. An Olympics boon does not just fall from the sky.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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