It's clear there's potential for a lot of good to come from hosting events like the World Cup and the Olympics. But as public costs race into the billions, and at the risk of government upheaval and exacerbating human rights issues, one still has to ask, is it even worth it?
For some countries, University of Richmond law professor Andy Spalding says, the answer may be no.
Consider Oslo, Norway, which entered a bid for the 2022 Olympics. It's one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International, it has a favorable position in the global marketplace, and the government infrastructure is strong. That left only economic considerations, but Norway's citizens didn't support the use of public funds to cover the infrastructure costs. Oslo was forced to withdraw its bid.
But Spalding isn't as quick to dismiss the potential for nations like Brazil. If a nation can use the platform to establish long-term, positive institutional reforms and improve its standing in a global marketplace, it makes the endeavor worthwhile, even at an economic costs.
In fact, Spalding argues that a push to let developing countries host could give more countries the chance to take advantage of the global platform and follow in Brazil's footsteps. It's those countries that have so much more to gain than gold medals and shiny new buildings.
This story appeared in the summer 2015 issue of Richmond Law, the University of Richmond School of Law alumni magazine. It's one of those stories that seems like it could be a bit dry and technical, but after talking to the people involved, I can't help but be fascinated by the subject.