Sydney 2000 Olympics

Hosting a major international event requires long-term planning. It is not only the management aspect that plays a vital part, but long-term benefits need to result from the event as well. Thus every host of a major event needs to consider what a vital aim of the event could be. In order to do this, the economy of a place needs to be considered carefully and a strategy needs to be set up in order to create a legacy. This essay will in a first part identify and explore the economic criteria the host of a major international event would consider in committing to host the event. This will be done by looking at some general concepts and take into consideration the examples of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth games and the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The second part of the essay will then analyse the perceived legacy of such an event and suggest where the perception may differ from reality. Considering the same examples, with a major focus on the Sydney Olympics, will explore this.

When considering hosting a major international event, the economy of a country plays an important role. The organisers of the events need to be aware of any economic weaknesses and strengths that exist in society. The economic climate does have an effect on goods and services available, and unemployment, interest rates, and inflation play an important role. A mega event such as the Olympics can bring massive economic benefits to a region. The aim of staging a mega event like the Olympics is to assure a long-term legacy. Every infrastructure build for such an event should have a long-term legacy, in order to have a major aim after the event is over. “The location of Olympic venues should also take into account social criteria, i.e. should encourage the regeneration of less developed and less affluent parts of cities, thus acting as agents for the lessening of exclusion” 1 The New South Wales Government did this by constructing the Olympic Park in the Homebush Bay area, situated in the eastern part of Sydney.

By building the core sports facilities in this degraded area, the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) achieved to regenerate and redevelop the contaminated site. Homebush Bay had a very diverse industrial history, brickworks and abattoirs were still present and considerable planning was necessary to rehabilitate the site for the Olympic use. First of all the area needed to be identified as being able to benefit from such an enterprise, after that other factors needed to be considered. For example, the organisers needed to make sure that the place was accessible, meaning that transportation needed to be considered. There are 6 very important elements that any host of a major international event should consider:

* Supplying new and/or redeveloped housing and venues

* Identifying and creating opportunities for employment and business growth

* Increasing public transport and accessibility without interfering too much with everyday life

* Improving the design of the urban environment, by creating new exciting venues, protecting heritage sites, and securing safe, well located public domains

* Protect and improve the natural and cultural environments

* Encourage efficient planning and encourage investment, job creation and business confidence 2

By strategically taking into consideration all elements, the host of a major international event will be able to enhance the economic position of its country, to improve local heritage, and to increase national pride.

Today Homebush Bay has become a major part of Sydney, a new urban centre, with new residential properties, shops, entertainment venues and lots more. By identifying the need of economic development of this area, the NSW government was able to regenerate a major part of Sydney. This clearly illustrates how important it is to consider the economy of a country in order to get the best possible results of staging a major event.

Another example of urban regeneration was illustrated by the Manchester Commonwealth games in 2002. “The aim was for the hosting of the Games to provide the catalyst for the whole scale regeneration of a large area of the city.” 3 East Manchester had faced many economic problems since the last thirty years, de-industrialisation had a devastating effect on employment, and a catalyst to regenerate the area was increasingly needed.

The Commonwealth Games presented a major opportunity, and so a new business area was developed, a retail centre, a four star hotel and new housing developments were supposed to create over 9000 jobs. 4 Metro-link lines were created to secure simply and quick access to the city centre, and today the stadium attracts the Manchester City footballs fans to come and bring the area alive for every home game. But it was not only this infrastructure, which helped to regenerate the area, and give local people a new sense of pride and confidence. Volunteer programs, including people from all different backgrounds, increased skills and social inclusion, thus creating benefits for each individual. Without staging a major event such as the Commonwealth games, Manchester would never have been able to invest and focus so strongly on this remote part of the city.

It is obvious that when considering hosting a major international event, the economic surroundings play a crucial role. Since a major aim of hosting an event is to bring benefits to a place, it first needs to be identified what kind of improvements are needed. And this is done by considering unemployment, housing problems, wages, infrastructure, transport but as well local behaviour and the general mood of a population. Without improving and increasing the confidence and pride of the local people it is impossible to achieve a major success. In order to successfully stage a major event, four very important economic aspects need to be considered.

First there are the social and cultural aspects, which include an increase in community pride, in community participation and the introduction of new and challenging ideas. Secondly, there are the physical and environmental aspects, which include, an increase in environmental awareness, improvement of transport and communication, urban transformation and renewal. The third aspect is of political nature and consists of increasing international prestige, promoting investment and developing administrative skills. And the fourth and final economic aspect considered when staging a major event is tourism, which includes increased tourist visits, destination promotion and leads to job creation. 5

Having now identified different parts of economic aspects that need to be considered and analysed before, during and after staging a major international event, one very important factor has not been mentioned: funding. In order to stage a mega-event every host of a major international event, needs to secure a massive amount of funding and sponsorship. Since an event can boost a place’s economy, there needs to be a considerable amount of investment. And in order to secure funding money, the funding bodies need to be convinced, first of all, of the possible economic benefits of such an event. In addition to this, in order to host a mega event you need to be aware that things could go badly wrong, and you make a loss. Thus, a country needs to have sufficient resources in case this happens. So the first thing to do, is considering whether the country can actually afford to risk staging a major event.

To summarize all this, it is easiest to briefly mention all the different aspects that need to be considered when staging such an event. Although asked to consider mainly the economic aspects taken into consideration, I think it is vital to briefly mention the basic steps that need to be taken into account. Based on information about the planning process of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, these are first of all the securing of funding and the creation of a management board and structure. Venue construction and selection is then taken into consideration in conjunction with accommodation and residential development for tourists, athletes, media and staff. The development of transport includes improving airports, railways, buses, road access and parking possibilities. Measures to minimize congestion and damage to the environment need to be taken into account. An estimation of the population living in the area at the time of the event needs to be evaluated, and finally, security, in terms of crowd management and health and safety, are central to planning such a major event.

Having considered some of the economic aspects the host of a major international event needs to take into consideration, the perceived legacy of such an event and in how far this reflects the reality will be analysed next. In order to do this effectively, the main focus will be put on the legacy of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. According to McDowell (1999) all events, whether small or large-scale, have a range of impacts on their host communities. These impacts can be both positive and negative. “Great emphasis if often placed on the financial impact of events, partly because of the need of employers and governments to meet budget goals and justify expenditure, and partly because such impacts are most easily assessed” 6 In addition to the financial impacts of events, there are cultural, political and social impacts as well.

Events have the power to increase local pride and confidence, to generate social inclusion, to make people aware of the history of their country or community, and to build networks all around the world. According to Getz (1991)”The legacy can take many forms: financial, as in the creation of a $125 million fund for youth sports created by the Los Angeles Olympic Games; or physical, as with the sport facilities left by the Olympics and the monuments, parks, and transportation infrastructure created by world’s fairs. It can also be psychological, environmental, or cultural in nature.” 7