Hosting the Olympic Games is not merely a sporting endeavor, but is an undertaking that is fraught with political, socio-cultural and economic pressures. Aligning these pressures with reputational issues for the multitude of event stakeholders, most notably the bidding city, if not properly managed as a mega project, can create a "perfect storm", which could result in poor decision making, destructive loss of reputational capital for stakeholders (particularly the host city) and potentially the delivery of a failed Olympic Games.
Mega project management, and particularly the management of mega events, deserves special attention in the context of reputation. This is because they come under considerable public scrutiny. For example, the Olympic Games require public sector support and fiscal involvement, without which a city could not bid to host the games (Mules and Dwyer, 2005:350). In fact, due to rising costs of hosting the games, coupled with the growth in interest at an international level, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cannot, more than ever, risk failure in the delivery of an Olympic Games. Consequently, the IOC decided that governments must act as financial guarantor when a city bids to host the Olympics (Lenskyj, 2004:370).
Factors which have historically impacted negatively on the reputation of Olympic stakeholders, the IOC and host cities in particular, include bribery and inequity in the bidding process, human rights issues, international terrorism, poor fiscal forecasting, deficiencies in infrastructure development, optimism-bias, the promise-performance gap and games boycotts. On the positive side have been a limited number of games that have demonstrated successful delivery of the games, profitability and medium to long-term regional sustainable infrastructure development, with corresponding gain in reputational capital to the host city.
This paper thus examines reputational issues which have encompassed the Olympics of the past by examining lessons from a longitudinal survey of documented Olympic Games since 1960. The outcomes of the research carry significant lessons for future Olympic host cities, most immediately London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, and have broader implications for all mega sporting events.
- Olympic Games
- Host City
- Mega Projects
- Mega Events
- Reputational Capital