REGENERATION AND PLACE
Final assessment: essay writing
Subject: Drawing on previous examples of major sporting events and festivals, critically discuss the assumption that London will benefit from hosting the Olympic Games.
Word count: 2370
Mega sports events like the Olympic or the commonwealth Games, the Football World Cup or the European Capital of Culture always have big and beautiful aims, like for the last one, according to the European Commission ‘highlight the diversity of cultural wealth in Europe and the ties that bind us as Europeans’ (toutel’europe.Eu, seen on the 4th january 2012). But nowadays, countries and cities bid to host these kind of events with more pragmatic objectives where art, culture and sport can be considered as tools of ‘place marketing and urban regeneration’ (MATHESON, 2010). But even if these aims are respectable, the history shows that the results are not always as expected. While London is going to host the Olympic Games in the summer of this year, it could be interesting to observe some examples of the past and to see how the London authorities are using this important experience. That is why, the aim of this essay is going to critically discuss the assumption that London will benefit from hosting the Olympic Games by drawing on previous examples of major sporting events and festivals. To deal with this subject, the essay is divided in 3 parts. Firstly, we will talk about what authorities look for when they bid for hosting major sport events and festivals, followed by a section which will draw upon the lessons learned from previous initiatives, and finally we will examine if London authorities seem to have taken into account these lessons. I. The expected aims when hosting mega events
As noted by L Davies (2011), ‘over the last two decades there has been a new trend emerging within sport, which has seen a shift, from investment for the sake of sport to investment in sport for good’(p1). This shift, which has also been seen within art and culture, is a new emerging trend generated by the context of globalization. According to the metaphore of ‘‘commodification’’ of cities noted by Elias Beriatos and Aspa Gospodini (2004), ‘mobile capital and tourists are the highly flexible consumers, cities are the product, and local government, organizations and institutions are the manufacturers, the marketers and the retailers’ (p188). In a ‘highly competitive market’ (irbid), sport, art and culture are then a piece of factors used by the last kind of actors to improve their product, by making it different and meeting the needs of the consumers. More concretely, sport, art and culture have been more customised to address urban regeneration objectives (L Davies, 2011) because a lot of governments, sporting and non-sporting organizations believe that a wide range of economic and social benefits can be conferred by this to individuals and communities. This can be then used to revitalize declining urban areas (irbid).
The important term of legacy needs then to be introduced. Indeed, this word for which numerous authors explain that it’s a widely contested and certainly misunderstood concept, has become overused in all major sporing events from the bid to the planning of the event and post-event period. For L Davies (2011), this term represents: ‘the wide range of outcomes commonly associated with and expected of major events, ranging from physical elements including sporting infrastructure and urban and environmental development, through to wider socio-economic improvements to an area such as enhancing skills and workforce development, community relations and social capital’ (p.1).
According to MATHESON (2010), the presentation of short-term impacts to bid and to host major events are not sufficient anymore. Nowadays, the city and the host country need to prove the investments can be sustainable with the creation of legacies, whether to win the right to host the event, to...