This House believes South Africa should host an Olympics

 Once Rio di Janeiro has hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics, Africa will be the only continent not to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Previous Olympic bids by African countries include Cairo for 2008 (which did not get past the first stage), and Cape Town, which came third in the voting for the 2004 games behind Rome, and Athens which went on to host the games.

South Africa has a track record of successfully hosting major sporting events. Following coming second in the bidding process for the 2006 tournament, South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA (football) World Cup, the first of two under a since dropped system of continent rotation, beating out competition from Morocco and Egypt.  The 2010 tournament "set a new benchmark", according to FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke[1]. South Africa has also hosted the Cricket World Cup in 2003, and the Rugby World Cup in 1995, in which the home team was victorious. The first big sporting event hosted by South Africa after the collapse of apartheid, the 1995 tournament was immortalized by the image of Nelson Mandela handing the trophy over to the victorious Springboks captain, Francois Pienaar, while wearing a shirt and cap of the team which had symbolized white minority rule.

The death of Mandela caused the first post-apartheid South African Olympic medallist, Elana Meyer, to suggest that the time is right for South Africa to host the Olympic Games[2]. Possible venues for a South African games could include Johannesburg (which held the 2010 World Cup final), and Cape Town, which was a candidate for the 2004 games. Johannesburg and Cape Town are considered to be Alpha- and Beta+ world cities, respectively[3].

It would be best if This House Believes that hosting the Olympics is a good investment for more general arguments about the Olympics were to be read in conjunction with this debate

[1] ‘Valcke: South Africa set a new benchmark’, FIFA.com, 23 September 2010, http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/news/newsid=1306612/index.html

[2] Hammer, Joel, ‘Nelson Mandela: Call to give South Africa the Olympics as tribute’, BBC Sport, 14 December 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/25380550

[3] ‘The World According to GaWC 2012’, lboro.ac.uk, 13 January 2014,  http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/world2012t.html

 

Title 
Showcase for a nation and continent
Point 

A key reason why countries host the Olympic games is in order to boost their image abroad – China held the 2008 Games in Beijing as part of an exercise in national promotion[1].

This would also be an opportunity to change the perceptions of Africa amongst some elements in the outside world, from an inaccurate picture of a “third world” continent with no features other than poverty and violence to a more accurate depiction of a continent which, while having challenges, is having economic growth and advancing human development. South Africa is the best nation to showcase the development of Africa; it is Africa’s biggest economy and one of its most developed.

[1] Rabkin, April, ‘Olympic Games all about China, Chinese’, SFGate, 1 August 2008, http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Olympic-Games-all-about-China-Chinese-3274954.php

Counterpoint 

South Africa has held events before, such as the World Cup – did that change perceptions of Africa? A well run games can change perceptions among those who visit but it can also damage perceptions. The South African world cup also involved slum clearance as part of a campaign of “beatification”, such actions hardly showcase a nation at its best.[1]

Due to its unique history, an event in South Africa may not have a halo effect for the entire continent. A games in one city will not affect other countries, or people’s perceptions of other African countries.

[1] McDougall, Dan, ‘Slum clearance, South Africa-style’, The Sunday Times, 25 April 2010, http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&id=4bd52eed5

Title 
Economic benefits
Point 

While hosting a major sporting event is relatively expensive (although Cape Town and Johannesburg already have a number of appropriate venues for some of the events already), hosting major sporting events creates major economic benefits. London got a £10bn economic boost from hosting the 2012 Olympics[1]. This may be higher – many of these benefits are difficult to calculate; how much of a tourism boost is a result of a successful games? Barcelona however just like London had a large boost of tourism following the 1992 Barcelona Games[2]. It raises awareness of the city, and the country, and what it offers as a tourist destination.

[1] Flanders, Stephanie, ‘London 2012 Olympics ‘have boosted UK economy by £9.9bn’’, BBC News, 19 July 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23370270

[2] Davenport, Coral, ‘A post-Olympic hurdle for Greece: the whopping bill’, CSMonitor, 1 September 2004, http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/r14/2004/0901/p07s01-woeu.html

Counterpoint 

Hosting can have a significant cost – the 1976 Montreal games left the city vastly in debt which it did not finish paying off until 2006[1]. Venues may be under-used after the events, with the 2004 Athens games seeing a large number of venues as unused “white elephants” after the event[2].

[1] Davenport, 2004

[2] Smith, Helena, ‘Athens 2004 Olympics: what happened after the athletes went home’, The Guardian, 9 May 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/may/09/athens-2004-olympics-athletes-home

Title 
National “feel-good factor”
Point 

Hosting very large sporting events is a great way to advertise a nation, and create a national feel-good factor. When London hosted the games in 2012, a successful event with a successful home team, there was a significant national “feel good factor”[1]. This can bring the benefit of bringing a nation together; particularly important for multi-ethnic countries such as South Africa, it will bring all ethnicities together in a shared experience helping to justify the label of ‘rainbow nation’. As Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula argues “Sport is said to be a national religion in South Africa. In recent years it transcends race, class, language and geographical location.”[2]

[1] Hart, Simon, ‘Feelgood factor at London’s Anniversary Games next weekend as a new start for drug-tainted athletics’, The Telegraph, 20 July 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/10192473/Feelgood-factor-at-Londons-Anniversary-Games-next-weekend-seen-as-a-new-start-for-drug-tainted-athletics.html

[2] Mabalula, Fikile, ‘South Africa: Remarks By the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Honourable Mr Fikile Mbalula At the National Press Club Briefing On the 2013 Afcon At the Csir International Convention Centre’, AllAfrica, 16 January 2013, http://allafrica.com/stories/201301170342.html?page=3

Counterpoint 

The Athens games did not create such a buzz. Many seats were empty in the games. This was in part a result of the poor performance of the host nation as Greece underperformed for an Olympic host nation, not entering the top ten of the medals table (in a games when South Africa only won one gold medal, that of their men’s 4x100m freestyle relay swimming team). Clearly this is a risk any host nation would take; the feel good factor comes from the national team doing well, not simply hosting the games.

Title 
Hosting only affects one city and one country
Point 

Unlike a World Cup, which spreads the benefits more evenly, an Olympic games is focused on one city, generally one which is a major international city. It was expected prior to the games that 90% of economic benefits to the UK of the 2012 games would go to London[1].

It is dubious that there would be such big benefits for the continent. South Africa is seen by some in the outside world as somewhat aloof from the rest of Africa due to its particular history, its history of apartheid being rather different from the normal course of African decolonisation. It is doubtful that the 2010 World Cup boosted perceptions of the entire continent.

[1] Grobel, William, ‘What are the London 2012 Olympics worth?’, Brand Valuation News, April 2010, http://www.intangiblebusiness.com/Brand-Services/Marketing-services/Press-coverage/What-are-the-London-2012-Olympics-worth~3072.html

Counterpoint 

Some Olympic events are held outside the main city. The football tournament uses venues across other cities (in the London 2012 games, Coventry, Cardiff and Manchester were amongst the cities hosting matches), and, being landlocked, Johannesburg would have to host the sailing at another venue. Sailing being held in another city is not unusual, in 2012 the sailing was held in Weymouth and in 2008 in Qingdao.

Training camps are typically held across the whole nation, too.

The national morale boost typically permeates far wider than just the host city, including the impact in favour of a more sporting culture in the country. 

Title 
Cost of hosting
Point 

The Olympic games is an expensive thing to host. The 2012 games in London cost nearly £9bn[1]. This cost largely falls on the taxpayer. These large events are notoriously difficult to budget accurately, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics having gone vastly over budget with suggestions that it could cost up to $50 billion[2].

It is too expensive to host for rich countries as it is – South Africa has a large problem with wealth inequality as it is, and is below the world average GDP per capita[3]. Although it is unlikely to reach such expense the $50 billion for the Sochi Olympics is twice the yearly South African health budget of ZAR 232.5bn.[4] South Africa would be better served using the money to combat HIV and poverty.

[1] Gibson, Owen, ‘London 2012 Olympics will cost a total of £8.921bn, says minister’, The Guardian, 23 October 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/oct/23/london-2012-olympics-cost-total

[2] Kollmeyer, Barbara, ‘Russia’s in-perspective price tag for four-times-overbudget Sochi Olympics: 18 Oprahs’, Marketwatch, 27 November 2013, http://blogs.marketwatch.com/themargin/2013/11/27/russias-in-perspective-price-tag-for-four-times-overbudget-sochi-olympics-18-oprahs/

[3] The World Bank, ‘GDP per capital, PPP (current international $)’, date.worldbank.org, accessed 24 January 2014, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?order=wbapi_data_value_2012+wbapi_data_value+wbapi_data_value-last&sort=desc

[4] ‘Budget 2013’, PWC, 27 February 2013, http://www.pwc.co.za/en/assets/pdf/budget-speech-summary-2013.pdf

Counterpoint 

Everything costs money. While the costs are significant, the money spent will regenerate parts of cities, create an image of the host country as a place for business, and create a long lasting legacy through the venues and infrastructure built.

While South Africa is not rich as the UK, Greece or Australia, its GDP per capita is around that of Brazil, which is hosting the 2016 Games. 

Title 
The Olympics are not South Africa’s ‘national sport’
Point 

South Africa in part hosted the World Cup because football is the national sport of the country. Sports Minister Fikile Mabalula has declared “In African popularity, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) surpasses even that of a multi-sports event like the All Africa Games.”[1] While there is football in the Olympics other sports that South Africans support such as Rugby are not represented. In the 2012 Olympics South Africa was well down the medal table at 23rd.[2] While it makes sense to make a big investment for intangible benefits for a sport the country loves it makes less sense for the Olympics.

[1] Mabalula, 2013, http://allafrica.com/stories/201301170342.html?page=2

[2] ‘Medal Table’, BBC Sport, 13 August 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/medals/countries

Counterpoint 

Football is also Brazil’s national sport, and Brazil was similarly placed (22nd) in the medal table in 2012. The Olympics need not be hosted just by the countries that are most competitive in the games.

Bibliography 

‘Medal Table’, BBC Sport, 13 August 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/medals/countries

Davenport, Coral, ‘A post-Olympic hurdle for Greece: the whopping bill’, CSMonitor, 1 September 2004, http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/r14/2004/0901/p07s01-woeu.html

‘Valcke: South Africa set a new benchmark’, FIFA.com, 23 September 2010, http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/news/newsid=1306612/index.html

Flanders, Stephanie, ‘London 2012 Olympics ‘have boosted UK economy by £9.9bn’’, BBC News, 19 July 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23370270

Grobel, William, ‘What are the London 2012 Olympics worth?’, Brand Valuation News, April 2010, http://www.intangiblebusiness.com/Brand-Services/Marketing-services/Press-coverage/What-are-the-London-2012-Olympics-worth~3072.html

Hammer, Joel, ‘Nelson Mandela: Call to give South Africa the Olympics as tribute’, BBC Sport, 14 December 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/25380550

Hart, Simon, ‘Feelgood factor at London’s Anniversary Games next weekend as a new start for drug-tainted athletics’, The Telegraph, 20 July 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/10192473/Feelgood-factor-at-Londons-Anniversary-Games-next-weekend-seen-as-a-new-start-for-drug-tainted-athletics.html

Kollmeyer, Barbara, ‘Russia’s in-perspective price tag for four-times-overbudget Sochi Olympics: 18 Oprahs’, Marketwatch, 27 November 2013, http://blogs.marketwatch.com/themargin/2013/11/27/russias-in-perspective-price-tag-for-four-times-overbudget-sochi-olympics-18-oprahs/

‘The World According to GaWC 2012’, lboro.ac.uk, 13 January 2014,  http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/world2012t.html

Mabalula, Fikile, ‘South Africa: Remarks By the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Honourable Mr Fikile Mbalula At the National Press Club Briefing On the 2013 Afcon At the Csir International Convention Centre’, AllAfrica, 16 January 2013, http://allafrica.com/stories/201301170342.html?page=3

McDougall, Dan, ‘Slum clearance, South Africa-style’, The Sunday Times, 25 April 2010, http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&id=4bd52eed5

‘Budget 2013’, PWC, 27 February 2013, http://www.pwc.co.za/en/assets/pdf/budget-speech-summary-2013.pdf

Rabkin, April, ‘Olympic Games all about China, Chinese’, SFGate, 1 August 2008, http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Olympic-Games-all-about-China-Chinese-3274954.php

Smith, Helena, ‘Athens 2004 Olympics: what happened after the athletes went home’, The Guardian, 9 May 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/may/09/athens-2004-olympics-athletes-home

The World Bank, ‘GDP per capital, PPP (current international $)’, date.worldbank.org, accessed 24 January 2014, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?order=wbapi_data_value_2012+wbapi_data_value+wbapi_data_value-last&sort=desc

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