Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PART I: The Benefits of Hosting the Olympic Games, Pan American Games or Commonwealth Games

A country can truly call itself sporting when the majority of its people feel a personal need for sports.  ~ Pierre de Coubertin,
father of the modern Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee is now accepting bids for the 2020 Olympic Games…. And Oh! how I’d love to see Canada put in a bid!  I’m well aware that there are some people that feel otherwise and today’s blog is dedicated to YOU.  In fact, this is such a heavy topic I’ll be continuing with it on Thursday. 
Every 2 years, for 2 weeks all that is wrong in the world seems to be on hold, while the world watches the Olympic Games.  That is the power of sports!  

Sports brings together people of all decent while discouraging discrimination.  It is a testament to the will of man and the realization of effort.

The benefits of hosting the Olympic Games or any major championship are often marred by the cost of staging such an event.   Oppositions are quick to site the expenses involved while completely disregarding the fact that hosting a major championship allows for belabouring city concerns to finally get taken care of in an expedient fashion.
For example Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games.  As a result, commuting concerns are finally being put into place (like a shuttle that goes from Pearson Airport directly to downtown)… The flow of traffic and commuting options in Toronto will significantly improve as a result of hosting the Pan American Games... a project that should have been taken care of 15 years ago…
In truth the benefits of hosting a major games are so monumental that if you could put a price tag on it, the current expenses associated with hosting such an event, wouldn’t cover it.  Indeed, the benefits far exceed the costs… but no one pays attention to it.  As an athlete it irritates me to see people petition so loudly against Canada hosting the Olympic Games or Pan American Games, yet will be the first to sing with Canadian pride when we are on the podium. Where was the Canadian pride before, when we needed it most?!
The hosting of a major championship provides an increase in GDP, drives an increase in jobs, economic gains for small and medium business while showcasing a city to the world.  Tourism has been shown to increase substantially during and long after a championship.  It becomes an elevated tourist destination.  The influx of tourists provides more revenue gains for the hosting and nearby cities.
For example the hosting of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games will result in Major Economic Benefits to the City of Toronto.
·         $1.4 billion in Capital Investment:
o   12,467 jobs
o   $67 million in tax revenue
o   $837 million Labour Income
o   $1.1 billion to city of Toronto GDP

·         $106 million in Operational Spending:
o   1,679 jobs and
o   $299,00 in municipal taxes for the City of Toronto
o   $84.1 million in value-added to the City of Toronto GDP

·         19.5 million in Visitor Spending
o   222 Jobs
o   $9.3 million in labour income added through the incremental tourist spending
o   $42,000 in tax revenue generated by the incremental tourist spending
o   $13.8 million to the City of Toronto GDP

    Additionally, the visibility of high performance athletes in a large cluster can’t help but inspire youth.  I remember when Canada hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and I, not even an athlete at that point, made a commitment to achieve excellence as I watched our Canadian team do so well in Victoria...  And I still live and breathe this commitment!  Don’t ever underestimate the power of inspiration, provided by hosting a major game!
    As mentioned hosting a major game attends to the improvement of various city infrastructures.  Likewise, it provides facilities.  And in Canada, God knows we are struggling.  I’ve been in third world countries with better facilities than our best National Team Training Centres…. Seriously!  Asking for great performances without the means to train is like asking for blood from a stone. 
     The development of an elite athlete is a long term process.   The lasting effects of the Calgary Olympic Games can be seen in our spectacular performances in VANOC.  And while not everyone who endeavors to be an elite athlete will achieve it, they are more likely to have a lifetime committed to healthy lifestyle, which thereby makes them less likely to be a burden to our health care system… Moreover, such facilities are not exclusive to elite athletes, but become pillars in one’s city for recreation… Like I said before we shouldn’t be focusing on getting more hospital beds but getting less people needing hospital beds (Number 1 cause of death in North America is lifestyle related!) 
     Hosting any major games isn’t just about dollars and cents; it’s about making a better Canada… far beyond the podium!

Desiring a change in how Canadians view sports,

Nicole W. Forrester
Olympian, PhD Candidate
Canadian Olympic Committee Member
2015 Pan American Games, Athlete Advisory Council Member

*On Thursday I’ll review previous major games failures and successes.*


Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole nice essay. Good luck with your pHD, what is your thesis for the pHD? And do you plan on competing in Toronto in 2015?

Nicole Wendy Forrester said...

Thank so much! I'm glad you liked it! My dissertation topic is “Good to great in athletics; how and why some athletes make the leap and others don’t.” I am interested in how athletes who've performed relatively good are able to make that shift of being phenominal and be among the best at what they do while sustaining it.... As for Toronto 2015, I'd like to be presenting the medal not competing. ;) I'll be around and quite involved, just not as a competing athlete...

Great questions and all the best to you!