Will the Brisbane Olympics stack up? The Federal Parliamentary Library investigates

The latest federal budget refers to “$22.5 million for the Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games 2032 – Business Case Development”. It’s a shame that we didn’t spend some of that money prior to deciding to bid for the Games, to determine whether it would be worthwhile to host them. Consider that a new Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper, authored incidentally by a past QEW contributor Rod Bogaards, raises big questions about the desirability of hosting the Olympics. Here’s one of the key points in the paper:

…there is considerable uncertainty as to whether the benefits of the Brisbane Olympics in 2032 will outweigh the costs to the community, even with the ‘New Norm’ changes. This suggests the need for any prospective host government to undertake a careful assessment of costs, benefits and risks before committing to host the Olympic Games.

We know that a careful assessment of costs, benefits, and risks wasn’t done for the Brisbane Olympics prior to bidding, something I noted in a previous QEW post which Rod cited in his paper (on p.21).

Of course, we won the Games, and I don’t want to continue to be a killjoy, but I remain concerned that as a strictly economic proposition the Olympics doesn’t stack up. I suspect we’d be far better off taking a fraction of the money we’ll spend on the Olympics and funding upgrades of local sporting clubs and school sports facilities instead. In my view, you have to place a very large value on its potential boost to national pride, and engage in arguably wishful thinking regarding the long-term tourism impact, to convince yourself that the Olympics makes sense to host. Let’s cheer on the Green and Gold team at the Olympics for sure, but why not let some other host city with gullible decision makers pay the bill?

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com. Also please check out my Economics Explored podcast, which has a new episode each week.

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1 Response to Will the Brisbane Olympics stack up? The Federal Parliamentary Library investigates

  1. Douglas Tobin says:

    …presuming that the Olympics are about sport and not kickbacks on a massive (campaign funding with a little left over for the organizers) scale, you’d be right! It doesn’t make sense in this day and age. However if a political party gets to administer billions to build new stuff, then the temptation is just too much for these poor guys on $300k a year! $6k a week don’t go far these days, right? Anybody… anybody?

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