When Will an African City Host the Olympic Games?

| June 9, 2012

Will an African city host the Olympic Games in 2024? A recent report contends that South Africa will be stepping forward to compete by offering Durban as her bid city. The current Olympic economic model is not made for current economic times and most cities in the world, let alone in Africa, should bid with caution. But even with a clear view of the costs involved Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid are moving forward before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to compete for the 2020 games. Tokyo, for example, is projecting an economic impact of $37.9 billion and 152,000 jobs if the city hosts the Games in 2020.

The country mentioned most likely to support a winning African city bid is South Africa. Beyond Durban, the South African cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town are among the few African cities with many preexisting facilities that could service football, athletics and possibly be adapted for opening and closing ceremonies. Similarly exciting possibilities exist in a number of other African cities including Dakar, Lagos and Nairobi. The less developed the country the more the facility and infrastructure expenditures are likely to be. Therein lies the problem. The model of revenue distribution between the host city’s local organizing committee and the IOC does not fluctuate based on the needs of a nation. Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 2016 Games in large part because the nation of Brazil committed to make the financial expenditures without a variation in the Olympic economic model.

No matter how much revenue future Games are projected to generate, or how dramatic the economic impact, the revenue stream to the host city is not likely to be extensive enough to cover the expenditures that have to be made.The ideal for any bid city is to use preexisting facilities. But even in cities where such facilities exist, the winning bids today focus on new gleaming facilities like the Bird’s Nest in Beijing and those that will be on display in London this summer.

Outside of the usual hoopla of the Olympics, the Games also traditionally serve as the “coming out” party for the host nation. In this manner, and to this effect, the Games have served this purpose on every populated region on the globe except for Africa. For better or worse winning the bid to host the Summer Olympic Games is an indicator of a nation’s, via a city’s, arrival on the world stage. This has been particularly true since the Tokyo Games in 1964. Millions of dollars were spent by Japan on infrastructure and pageantry for the Tokyo Games in order to achieve their desire to be viewed by the world as something other than the producer of cheap transistor radios. “Made in Japan” had a negative connotation at the time. World War II was a mere two decades in the past. A particular goal of Munich in 1972 was to similarly show what post war reform had

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Category: Africa News

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