The Olympic curse

I love sports and I love cities. Which means that the Olympics should be a match made in heaven for me. But it isn’t, anymore.

Instead of reading about the sports, lately I have been reading about the impact of the Olympics on the hosting city. They say that the Olympics leave ‘A Legacy’: city improvements that benefit the city and locals afterwards.

But that is just marketing bullshit. I have learned there is no such thing as legacy.

Through the years the Olympic Games became a curse for hosting cities. And Rio will top the bill.

According to the organization the total cost of the Olympic Games in Rio will be about 11 billion dollars. This involves the investemens in infrastructure and operational costs.

According to the economist Andrew Zimbalist the Games will cost around 20 billion dollars. Twenty. Billion. Dollars. For the record: specialists have more believe in the calculation of Zimbalist.

For that amount of money the people of Rio will get some white elephants, infrastructure that is useless after the Olympics and will cost loads of money to maintain it. A famous white elephant is the Bird’s Nest in Peking. After the Olympics the stadium hardly facilitated events.


Apart from the white elephants The Olympics also broke their promise to invest in infrastructure and to reduce water pollution.

Barcelona was host city in 1992 and is considered as the last city who had significant post-game advantages of hosting the Olympic Games. Today people still benefit of investments in infrastructure that were done for the Olympics. Since than all the cities who candidated said they wanted to act like Barcelona but none of them succeeded.

The only ones who are getting better from the Olympic Games in Rio are the rich people and some smart private companies. Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, claimed that this was untrue. But Rio On Watch refuted this with facts.


Rio On Watch reports about what is happening in the communities of Rio. I’ll give you just one fact. From the 450 kilometer of bike paths they build, less than 1 kilometer runs through a pover neighbourhood.

Just take a look at their homepage and you will be shocked. Prominent keywords are fights, threats, violence, poverty, guns,… Rio is bleeding.

Economist Jeffrey Owen said that there is no scientific study that shows emperical evidence of significant impact caused by Olympic Games (or any other megasportevent). Legacy? Yeah right.

This week I posted a blogpost about a mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, who’s nickname was ‘Mayor of Hapiness’. To me, Eduardo Paes is ‘The Mayor of Unhapiness’.

The Olympic Games won’t heal Rio, they will just make the problems worse. And they made the world aware of the problems. Maybe that is the ‘positive’ thing about it.

The Guardian said:

As part of its Olympic bid, the state of Rio de Janeiro committed to expand and upgrade the system so that 80% of sewage is treated. There has been progress but it has fallen far short of this goal.

And Politico wrote that the international press in general ignores these problems. They were pretty harsh on the journalists:

Journalists ponder whether athletes and tourists will be safe, without reflecting on why Rio’s crime and violence rates are so high in the first place, or questioning what effect an expanded force of 85,000 security officers will have in a city where killings by police are a common occurrence.

Before the 2014 World Cup, thousands of families were removed to clear the way for infrastructure. At least eight construction workers died during preparations, a newly constructed overpass bridge collapsed and killed two people, activists were preemptively arrested, protesters were tear-gassed — the real answer to “How Brazil silenced its critics” — and Brazilian taxpayers were left with an enormous bill.

On Inside The Games you can read:

Eight-five thousand security forces are expected to be deployed during the Games. But concerns remain over their accommodation and to what extent the financial crisis affecting the State Govenment will hinder their activities.

It makes me sad that such a beautifull sporting event can cause such harm to a city.


After the Olympics Rio will have no more money. And many people no more city.

 Follow Cities in Capitals on Facebook!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s