As shown in the Economics page, hosting the Olympics is an economic disaster for cities, leading to significant cost burdens and lasting debt. Paying off such costs requires either reduced services or higher taxes—both of which can damage small and local businesses, whether from the supply side or the demand side.
And, as shown in the Tourism page, promises of a boost in tourism from the Olympics frequently fail to materialize, and locals avoid downtowns and Olympic areas out of fear of overcrowding. We, in Boston, remember this well from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, as the city, particularly the North End, became a ghost town. Locals left, expecting to face overcrowding, and convention-goers largely stayed in their hotels when they weren’t at the stadium. The Olympics replicates and exacerbates this dynamic. For one, it is a multi-week affair, much longer than a party convention. Moreover, Olympic-goers get shepherded through long security lines, keeping them away from the local businesses nearby.
Moreover, with increasing commercialization of the Olympics, the top priority for the IOC is the protection of its corporate sponsors and its own brand, and restrictive trademark laws and prohibitions on “ambush marketing” help ensure this. Whereas large IOC corporate sponsors like McDonald’s and Coca Cola will be able to capitalize on Olympic tie-ins, small businesses face severe fines if they attempt to do so.
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