17 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Olympic games not a cheap dream

Turkey’s bid to host 2020 Olympic Games openly contradicts the government’s latest call for less spending. Still, if the country manages to win the multi-national race to house the games, the construction sector will enliven, some say
The main venue for the 2012Olympic Games in London is seen in this file photo.

The main venue for the 2012Olympic Games in London is seen in this file photo.
Some Turkish ministers have broached the idea of cutting back on spending in light of increasingly negative economic forecasts but the country could be gearing up for a spending spree if Istanbul’s dream of landing the 2020 Olympic Games comes true.

If Istanbul, which has failed to win the bid to host the games four times in the past, is selected to host the games, the country would need to spend billions over the next nine years to be ready for the Olympics, the world’s largest multi-sport event.

“Turkey has the power and financial capacity to host the games,” Serdar Bacaksız, board member of Limak Holding, a Turkish group active in several businesses, including port management, energy and construction, told the Hürriyet Daily News by phone Monday.

Evaluating the candidacy of Istanbul to host the games, Bacaksız said, “Istanbul already needs major investment in infrastructure, sport facilities and transportation.” Such a target as 2020 might accelerate the process and bring dynamism to the metropolis, he added.

London, which has been readying to host the 2012 games, allocated nearly $15.1 billion for the preparations, according to official data from the London Olympic Authority, or ODA. Beijing invested approximately $40 billion for the glamorous games it held in 2008, while neighboring Athens spent nearly $11.2 billion for the 2004 games. In the last three Olympic Games, hosts have spent an average of roughly $22.1 billion for the event.

The return of the investment would be great as the reputation of Istanbul and Turkey would benefit from the “shining visibility” of the games, said Bacaksız, adding that a city that has long had negative associations due to films like “Midnight Express” might at last receive a public makeover.

The economy of the city would benefit as most of the construction work would be run by Turkish companies, creating new jobs. “It would be a real boost for Turkey’s construction sector.”

The London games are expected to net the British capital an estimated 2.1 billion pounds in revenue, of which 400 million pounds will affect areas outside of London.

The games, which will require 70,000 volunteers and 7.9 million spectators, will provide 20,000 construction jobs this year, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.”
‘Investment for nothing’

“Turkey’s candidacy for is a result of the country’s economic performance,” Rona Yırcalı, the board chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, told the Daily News, adding that Turkey’s economic outlook and political stability were “way better than before.”

Because the infrastructure investments will stay in the country after the games, “we should take it as investments for nothing,” he said. “Turkey could also increase its tourism revenues with it.”

Tourists spent about $6 billion in Sydney in 2000-2001 after the Australian city hosted the games in 2000.
Istanbul has made several previous bids for the Summer Games. The city was a candidate for the 2000 games, but lost in the voting. It sought to bid again for the 2004 Olympics, which were held in Athens, but failed to become a candidate city. It became a candidate for 2008 but lost to Beijing. The Turkish city’s most recent bid was for the 2012 Games but it failed to become a candidate; the 2020 bid will be its fifth bid.
A lack of infrastructure and insufficient public transportation might push Turkey to spend more than others, İnan Demir, the chief economist of Finansbank, told the Daily News.

On the other hand, the low cost of labor and affordable construction materials could lower the budget, he said.

“One way or the other, it would boost the country’s economy for sure,” he said, noting that some countries hosted the Olympics ended up with public debts, so Turkey should be careful about the volume of the investments.

For example, there is 10 percent chance that the United Kingdom might end up losing 517 million pounds by the end of the games, according to a study titled “The Economic Impact of the Olympics” by Dr. Adam Blake of the University of Nottingham.

Rome, Madrid and Tokyo are among the other official candidates to host the 2020 games. The winning city will be chosen Sept. 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires.

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