Bidding for the world’s major sporting events is an expensive business, as Australia found out in its failed attempt to host the FIFA World Cup.
It appears that the Governing bodies are aware that many Governments in tough economic times simply can no longer justify the cost of spending tens of millions on bidding to host an event that is then going to cost them hundreds of millions to stage. These are costs that are hard to justify when in modern times, just like the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup which rotate on a quadrennial basis, there is an global economic downturn happening every four years.
The first to realise this is the International Olympic Committee who last month revealed that cities bidding for the Olympic Games for a second consecutive time would not have to start from scratch, and could now pay less than first-timers.
IOC President Thomas Bach told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper “We cannot expect from bidders, some of whom may be bidding for the second time, to start the whole process from scratch. We have to reduce the planning costs there.”
His comments came on the back of the announcement that Budapest had pulled out of bidding for the 2024 summer Olympics in late February. Their withdrawal was the fourth by a city originally putting their hand up to host the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will vote in September to decide which city will host the Games, and now there are just Los Angeles and Paris in the running.
Both cities have hosted two Olympic Games previously. Paris bid unsuccessfully for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. While Los Angeles hosted the the 1932 and 1984 Games. Los Angeles stepped in at the last minute after Boston pulled out as the United States’ first choice in 2015.
The process is extremely long-winded and cities bid over a two-year period, submitting their candidacies in three parts. They host an IOC inspection team and spend tens of millions of dollars to promote their plans in the hope of landing the world’s biggest multi-sports event.
The problem is, as the Olympic Games has expanded in terms of the sports participating, this has restricted the number of cities capable of hosting the Games. Many European cities have pulled out of the bid process citing fears over the sheer scale of the Games and the relative cost.
Bach has obviously taken heed of the reasons given and has announced that approval of Olympic venues would also be easier in the future if cities had already held specific major sporting events. He was quoted as saying that “What we will do, starting from the 2026 winter Games bid process, is that every venue that has hosted a world championship or a World Cup (sports) event will be considered as approved.”
This is all very well, but what Bach’s comments also show is that from now on there will only be a number of cities in the World capable of hosting the Olympic Games. It will be immediately beyond the reach of many, as they would not already have in place the facilities to host a World event. As most are sure he does not mean that because a city has hosted a World Skateboarding event, it is suddenly in the mix for the Olympic Games.
Bach, since becoming IOC President has been keen to grown the number of sports in the Olympic Games, and in 2016 the IOC agreed to re-admit Baseball and Softball to the Tokyo 2020 Games. There was no surprise in this as both sports are huge in Japan. London had looked to include these two sports, and the plan had been that the Oval cricket ground would be the venue, however the problem was no matter how they configured it the pitchers mound was always on the middle of the cricket square. So Cricket won out over Baseball. Also coming into the Olympic program in Tokyo are Karate, Skateboarding, Sports Climbing and Surfing.
Those close to the IOC have also revealed that the President would like to see the Games extended beyond the current two weeks of competition to possibly as a long as a month, with athletes returning home once their event is over. This would ease the cost of building accommodation for such a large contingent of athletes. Rumours have also suggested that the Paralympic Games would dovetail into the Olympic Games over that month. Meaning that once the Olympic Games finished with the Athletics stadium the Paralympians could move in.
One problem that Bach cannot avoid, but is going to somehow have to help the host cities overcome is the fact that many Government projections on the revenue generated by hosting major sporting events have been proven to be unsubstantiated. In recent times these figures have been exposed as more of a ‘guesstimate’ rather than actual solid predications. The projections are based on a formula of how many visitors the event may attract, and on average how much they spend on accomodation, food and drink during their stay. It is only after the event that many host cities, or host countries, have discovered that the real expenditure fell well short of the expert’s predictions.
The Commonwealth Games may well find that it too has to take a similar approach to the IOC and look to a limited number of cities to play host to their quadrennial games. In March, Durban in South Africa was stripped of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games due to Financial constraints. This was a city that had previously considered bidding for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games!
Now Edmonton, which lost out to Durban, is one of the favourites to become host, although there has been interest from the United Kingdom, Australia and Malaysia. In Malaysia Kuala Lumpur would play host again after last having the games in 1998. In the UK it has been reported that Birmingham, Manchester, London and Liverpool were all interested in hosting the games. While in Australia, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have all been mentioned. Whereas all the other states received strong Government support it was the Lord Mayor of Perth who was the first to speak up for the Western Australian city. Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, said in March that if the Government of Western Australia were to bid for the games, she would support it. “An event of the scale of the Commonwealth Games would further enhance Perth as a world-class city and destination and greatly stimulate the economy, the city of Perth would definitely support the WA Government if it was to put forward a bid to host the Games.” Since the election new State Minister for Sport Mick Murray has stated he would talk to the new Premier Mark McGowan about Perth bidding.
Perth hosted the Commonwealth Games back in 1962, and has a new Athletics which has replaced the one gifted to the state for by the Federal Government for those games. Whether it would be large enough to host such an event is questionable. The new Perth Stadium would be open by 2022 and the Commonwealth Games could be an ideal vehicle to showcase the new stadium.
If such events are to be limited to Cities that have hosted World events, then it is important that Perth gets on the sporting map now in order to be a part of things to come. As in years to come it looks as if only the chosen few will get the blue riband events.