September 16, 2019
 In Mitigating Negative Impacts on Host Cities

Country: Finland
Delegate Name: Lauren Groulx

Several years prior to the start of each Olympic Games, the IOC selects a host from a list of bids submitted by cities around the world. In recent years, the negative impacts of hosting the Olympics has discouraged cities from submitting bids‒in the bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, five potential host cities withdrew due to a lack of local support. Finland would like the IOC to acknowledge that the supposed “benefits” of hosting the Olympic Games, such as job creation, increased revenue for the tourism and hospitality industries, increased international trade, and infrastructure improvements, all come at a significant cost to the host city and its country.

Revenues generated by the Olympics do not cover the expenditures required to host the Games. Most revenue generated by the Games is kept by the IOC, and economists have found that hosting the Games does not have long-term positive effects on a country’s GDP. Additionally, the costs of building the new facilities (or improving existing facilities) required to host the games is substantial. The IOC requires host cities to provide 40 sporting venues, at least 40,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic village, a media center and media village, and transportation and parking facilities to make movement between these venues possible. These expensive, specialized facilities have limited post-Olympics use and impose costs on host cities for years to come. Cost estimates prior to the bidding process often fail to include the “investments” made by host cities into this infrastructure. Every Olympics since 1960 has run over its budget, with the average overspending being 172% in inflation-adjusted terms.

Finland would also like the IOC to recognize that any increase in tourism to host cities is neutralized by the decrease in normal tourists. These normal tourists report avoiding host cities due to Olympic congestion, high prices, and security issues. Another important issue related to host cities is the displacement of local residents. To accommodate the construction of facilities required to host the Games, residents of host cities may be forcibly moved. Before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 1.5 million Chinese citizens were forcibly relocated. A further negative impact on local residents is the spread of COVID-19. After the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in Japan.

To mitigate the negative impacts of hosting the Olympics, Finland proposes that the IOC allow hosts more flexibility in using pre-existing sports facilities and impose a budget on the bidding process. We also believe that the bidding process should be audited by an outside entity to increase cost transparency for the residents of host cities. Finland is open to the possibility of limiting the host city applicant pool to those cities with sufficient existing infrastructure.