Just two years after surviving one of the worst natural disasters in its history, Japan is celebrating their winning bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Havingpreviously hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964, it will be the first Asian city to host the Games twice. Tokyo beat Istanbul and Madrid, who were tied for second place. Had Istanbul won the bid, it would have been first Muslim country to host the Games.
There are, however, concerns whether or not Tokyo is a safe choice. There are issues in regards to a radiation leak from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was thrilled at the opportunity and promised that Tokyo will make it “a safe and secure Olympic Games,” claiming that the situation is under control. The country also suffered from a major disaster: the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Despite these problems, Tokyo was chosen, and hosting these Olympics should bring hope to the people of Japan.
The reason major cities fight so hard to host the Games is the belief that the Olympics will bring instant fame and fortune to its host residents. This is not always true and the results have been mixed. The 2010 London olympics, for example, suffered from a severe drop in sales, businesses, shops, and restaurants lost clients. The city was a disaster post-Olympics. The Sydney Games, in 2000, didn’t have any use for their Olympic facilities after it was over, and they couldn’t keep up with the maintenance costs. The 2004 Games in Athens and then Beijing in 2008 also had overrun costs and their economy was impacted as result.
However, there are some success stories. Los Angeles, in 1984, benefitted and were very profitable because they didn’t have to outbid any other city. They also already had facilities that were of high quality, ready for the Games, and they were used after the Games as well. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics brought positive economic effects like increased employment rate, and it regenerated the economy instead of hurting it.
Even though cities have a strong desire to host the Olympics, being the host city isn’t always beneficial, especially for the residents of that city. Yes, it could increase tourism and construction, create jobs and help the economy grow, but there are also many negative economic and social disadvantages to hosting. Traffic and an overload of crowds can interrupt the residents’ daily lives and commute, some areas of the city could be blocked off, local stores lose business because clients aren’t coming in, prices rise because they want to sell as much as possible to visitors, and there can be threats of terrorism.
For Tokyo specifically, the Games could have a positive impact on the city. It could bring Tokyo $2 billion and create more than 150,000 jobs, according to some estimates. Hosting the Olympics could also provide jobs to contractors, architects, and offer full or part time jobs to service the expected crowds of spectators and participants.
On the downside, however, Tokyo will be spending a lot of money on building new structures, like the main stadium with a retractable roof, designed to seat 80,000 people. They are also creating some new sports arenas, but plan on reusing some of the old facilities that were used for the 1964 Olympics. Past Olympics show that, besides Barcelona, L.A., and maybe a few other cities, being a host city for the Olympics does not necessarily bring economic and social gain.
So will it be the same for Tokyo? Only time will tell if hosting the Olympics will bring Japan economic growth, although some of its benefits may go beyond economics. “Sport has the power to unite people,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when he received the winning offer. “We experienced that after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, when athletes came to our country and helped us. Japan needs the power of sport, we need hopes and dreams.”