EADI: C2S Policy Paper "Mega-Events and Megaprojects"

Mega-events are events with a global audience. They vary in type and organization, but the focus here is on those that have an itinerant character, occurring regularly in different places, and are awarded through a bidding process. These include the World’s Fair, the World Cups of various sports, regional athletic contests (e.g., Asian Games) and the Olympic Games. Since the second half of the 20th century, mega sporting events have surpassed other types of mega-events in terms of frequency and financial investment, a development linked to increasing media coverage and global reach. Drawing on evaluations of past experiences of megaprojects and mega-events, this paper highlights important issues related to financial sustainability, governance and impacts. The core question is how to maximize the positive effects of mega-events and avoid losses and increased social tension?

There is vigorous competition for hosting a mega-event, which is widely perceived as an opportunity to market the city and the country at the international scale. Mega-events started taking place in the South only recently, with two exceptions: the Olympics were held in Mexico City in 1968 and in Seoul in 1988. This new trend raises issues in the specific context of fast-growing cities in developing countries, namely the relevance of allocating funds to build sport facilities and world-class infrastructures whereas the basic needs of the urban population are not met, at least for a sizeable proportion of residents (Pillay & Bass, 2009).

By Aurélie Varrel and Loraine Kennedy

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