International Sporting Events

International Sporting Events

This page introduces the political, economic cultural factors that affect the hosting of major international events. It examines it from two perspectives. Firstly how countries are chosen to host and the secondly the implications of hosting. The bulk of the resourcing and activities are based on hosting the Olympic Games. It features a number of named events including the London (2012) and Mexican (1968) Olympics as well as the South African Football World Cup (2010), and develops the political commitment and issues it provokes including geopolitical reasons for boycotts. One named example is the 1968 Games, notoriously associated with a government massacre as well as the Black Power protests.

Enquiry Question

What political, economic and cultural factors affect the hosting of international sporting events?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Lesson Objectives:

  • To examine the political, economic and cultural factors affecting the hosting of international sporting events, including Olympics and Football World Cup events.

Teacher Notes:

Teacher notes to follow

Starter Activity - Who hosts international events? - Processes and Places

Where were the last 5 hosted

  1. Winter Olympics?
  2. Summer Olympics?
  3. Football World Cups?

Winter Olympics

  • 2018 PyenongChang, S. Korea
  • 2014 Sochi, Russia
  • 2010 Vancouver, Canada
  • 2006 Torino, Italy
  • 2002 Salt Lake City, USA

Summer Olympics

  • 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2012 London, UK
  • 2008 Beijing, China
  • 2004 Athens, Greece
  • 2000 Sydney Australia

Football World Cup

  • 2018 Russia
  • 2014 Brazil
  • 2010 South Africa
  • 2006 Germany
  • 2002 – Japan and South Korea

Student Activity - The Distribution of Host Countries for the Olympics - Processes and Places

  1. Describe the distribution of host countries for the Olympic Games from 1896 - 2016
  2. What factors do you think influences the distribution shown in the map?

Student Activity - Who can host the Olympics? - Processes and Places

Read the following text and identify the criteria required to be host nation of the Olympics. Consider both political and economic factors.

Source: Scholastic - Go for Gold!

Any city that wants to host the Olympic Games puts in its name to the IOC and is considered an "Applicant City." For the next ten months, the IOC investigates the city on several points:

1) The city must prove that it is big enough to handle the Olympics. With the games come a huge number of tourists, athletes, journalists, and politicians. They must show that they can host the games in new stadiums and venues, they must house all the people in adequate hotels, and they have to transport everyone from one place to the next with a reliable mass transit system. They also need to show that they can handle the high level of security needed at the games.

2) The city needs to convince residents that the expenses of covering the Olympics (which may be covered by raising taxes) are worth it in city improvement and new jobs.

3) The cities needs to maintain a highly positive media exposure to carry the games. Fourth, the tangible effects of hosting the Olympic games may not prove beneficial if the bid committees do not exercise proper judgment in developing the city to host the Olympics.

If the IOC decides that a city has fulfilled the three points above, the city is considered a "Candidate City" and goes into the second phase of the process. After submitting an application and an application fee, the IOC makes a final judging on which city is the best candidate for the coming Summer or Winter Olympic Games.

The costs for bidding for the games is incredibly high. Bid committees must pay an application fee (The fee for hosting the 2012 Olympics was $150,000 U.S.), to the IOC. This high fee is meant to discourage cities that are not committed to the efforts necessary to host the Olympics. Following these fees, the cities generally need to begin large construction projects like building the "Olympic village" to house the athletes, new sports arenas and stadiums, and transportation systems.

Student Activity - The Political Issues in Making a Successful Olympics Bid - Processes and Possibilities

Watch the following video based on the British governments role in putting to together a successful London bid to host the Olympics. Make notes on the political factors involved.

To what extent would agree that cultural factors as important as economic and political factors when hosting the Winter Olympics?

Student Activity - Who would host an Olympic Games? - Processes and Places

Read the following article adapted from The Economist 

Make note of the political, economic and cultural issues in hosting an Olympics games

TO TRIUMPHANT shouts of “banzai!” it was announced on September 7th that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic games. The city fended off not-especially-stiff competition from Madrid, whose chances were damaged by Spain’s sickly economy, and Istanbul, whose image was tarnished when its police spent the summer practising for the 100-metre baton-charge. It was not the strongest field of candidate cities in Olympic history. But the contest demonstrated the lengths that countries will go to for the privilege of hosting the world’s biggest sporting bash. Shinzo Abe, Mariano Rajoy and Recep Tayyip Erdogan all flew to Buenos Aires, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was voting, to make the official case for their respective countries. Tokyo had previously bid unsuccessfully for the 2016 games; Madrid had bid for both 2016 and 2012. Poor Istanbul has now been rejected five times. Why are cities so keen to host the Olympics?

On the face of it, throwing the world’s biggest party—and paying for it—is not especially appealing. The cost used to be fairly modest: London’s 1948 Olympics cost £732,268, or about $30m in today’s money. Nowadays hosting the games is a different business. The 2008 Beijing games, are reckoned to have cost about $40 billion. The Sochi winter games, cost $51 billion. Tourism may help to offset the expense, but a spike in arrivals is not guaranteed: Beijing saw a drop in hotel bookings during its Olympic summer. And the chance to spruce up a city sometimes ends up creating eyesores instead. Some of Greece’s costly stadiums now look as run-down as the Parthenon.

The main reason cities want to host the Olympics is that, perhaps against the odds, they are wildly popular with the voters who foot the bill. The IOC found that public support for hosting the games was around 70% in Tokyo, 76% in Madrid and 83% in Istanbul. Londoners, sometimes a cynical bunch, were in favour of the 2012 games. At the end of the year, with the crowds departed, eight out of ten said it was worth the extraordinary cost, even as cuts to public services began to bite. Popularity aside, Olympic bids often have other agendas. The Beijing games were intended to show off China’s spending and organisational power. London’s games were a means of bringing back to life a poor part of the capital at a speed that defied normal budgets and planning regulations. Tokyo hopes the 2020 games can gee up Japan’s lacklustre economy.

It is a high-risk game. Rio’s hosting of the 2016 games had strong local support during the bidding process, but later become a focus of those protesting against government waste (they also raged against the World Cup, which Brazil hosted in 2014. Politicians can be left looking ridiculous, or worse: Mexico’s 1968 Olympics are remembered as much for the massacre of student protesters ten days before the games as for the sporting events themselves.

Student Activity - The 1968 Olympic Flashback - Processes and Places

Watch the following video on the 1968 Olympics and make note of the political, economic and cultural issues that emerged

Student Activity - Olympic Boycotts - Processes, Places and Possibilities

Watch the following video and take notes on the reason why different countries have boycotted the Olympic Games

  1. What the are the different political and social issues?
  2. Why does the journalist (2008) suggest things might be about to change?

Student Activity - The Legacy of the South African World Cup - Processes and Places

Watch the following video and make notes on the political, economic and cultural impacts of South Africa hosting the World Cup in 2010.

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