A model international eventThe 2015 International Military Sports Council World Games held in Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang, closed on Wednesday. North Korea did not take part, but the game nevertheless drew its largest-ever 7,045 participating athletes from 117 countries. It set a great example of how an international sporting event can be held without spending a fortune.
The event cost 165.3 billion won ($142.3 million) in total, just 26 percent of the 619 billion won that went into the Gwangju Universiade Games for 13,000 athletes from 146 countries in July. It is not because a multi-sports event for military officials costs less than one for university students. Brazil spent 2 trillion won to hold the previous military games four years ago.
The host was able to save big because it did not build sports facilities and athletes’ quarters specifically for the games. It did not follow the usual tradition of spending lavishly on new facilities and grandiose ceremonies. The host used the existing military sports facilities in Mungyeong as well as arenas available in eight cities and counties across North Gyeongsang.
Swimming events were held in the cities of Gimcheon and Youngcheon, while archery was held in Yecheon County. Camping trailers were set up to accommodate visiting athletes. Instead of celebrities, the opening ceremony included folk performances to highlight the spirit and sentiment of the event.
Various international events like the Incheon Asian Games, Formula 1, and Yeosu World Exposition caused huge deficits for local governments, with facilities ending up white elephants. Reckless competition to host international events mostly wasted taxpayers’ money. Local governments, however, still insist on holding the big events.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would demand 13 trillion won alone to build sports facilities and infrastructure. If the facilities are not utilized after the games, they could bankrupt the local government. Other local governments should learn from the recent Military World Games and try to work together, instead of competing to host events. JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 12, Page 34