Public Anger in Japan Over Olympics Reflects the Unpopularity of Hosting the Games | Best Countries


For example, in 2019 the committee ruled out Stockholm’s bid to host the winter games in 2026. It selected instead Milan and the Alpine ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo because public support was stronger in Italy. Four other countries bowed out of the bidding process because of underwhelming domestic support to host the Olympics.

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Losing interest

That sense of promise was short-lived.

Urban planning scholar Eva Kassens-Noor and I analyzed 21 million tweets to gauge public interest in the Rio games. We found that while the sporting events may have been popular, the International Olympic Committee generated far more negative than positive sentiments. The tenor of those tweets suggests that the public saw the IOC as self-serving and lacking an interest in helping the host city.

What’s in it for hosts

A scaled-back Olympics would still generate plenty of broadcast revenue. The IOC earned $4.5 billion for the 2018 and 2020 Olympics, a powerful incentive to maintain the event. People around the world will still be able to watch the competition on television or on other devices, possibly with crowd noise added for effect. But that money largely flows to the International Olympic Committee, not to the place hosting the event.

Local organizers have historically benefited most not from ticket sales but from what spectators spend on hotels, restaurants and their travels around the city and country. The decision to ban foreign spectators precipitates trip cancellations and refunds owed for 600,000 tickets.

A brighter future is possible

Even if Tokyo’s Olympics turn out to be the debacle residents seem to fear, I don’t think it will necessarily damage the Olympics’ credibility for other potential host cities.

Each of these cities has hosted big sporting events before. The challenge is to do it again, only better.

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