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Athletes compete for national honor in Olympic and World Cup games. But the road to these mega events is paved by big business. We all know who the winners on the field are—but who wins off the field?The numbers are staggering: China spent $40 billion to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing and Russia spent $50 billion for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Brazil's totAthletes compete for national honor in Olympic and World Cup games. But the road to these mega events is paved by big business. We all know who the winners on the field are—but who wins off the field?The numbers are staggering: China spent $40 billion to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing and Russia spent $50 billion for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Brazil's total expenditures are thought to have been as much as $20 billion for the World Cup this summer and Qatar, which will be the site of the 2022 World Cup, is estimating that it will spend $200 billion.How did we get here? And is it worth it? Those are among the questions noted sports economist Andrew Zimbalist answers in Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. Both the Olympics and the World Cup are touted as major economic boons for the countries that host them, and the competition is fierce to win hosting rights. Developing countries especially see the events as a chance to stand in the world's spotlight.Circus Maximus traces the path of the Olympic Games and the World Cup from noble sporting events to exhibits of excess. It exposes the hollowness of the claims made by their private industry boosters and government supporters, all illustrated through a series of case studies ripping open the experiences of Barcelona, Sochi, Rio, and London. Zimbalist finds no net economic gains for the countries that have played host to the Olympics or the World Cup. While the wealthy may profit, those in the middle and lower income brackets do not, and Zimbalist predicts more outbursts of political anger like that seen in Brazil surrounding the 2014 World Cup....

Title : Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup
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ISBN : 9780815726517
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 174 Pages
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Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup Reviews

  • Matt Hooper
    2019-02-26 12:37

    As of this writing, we are less than two weeks away from the opening of Winter Olympics No. 23 in PyeongChang. The South Koreans are using the games as an opportunity to put PyeongChang on the map -- and you could say that they have already succeeded in that regard. "PyeongChang" technically did not exist until 2016 -- when the city of Pyongchang ever-so-slightly changed its name in the lead-up to the games in order to avoid confusion with another, more dubious city just under 300 kilometers to its north. In so doing, the hope is to avoid the travel (and personal) nightmare endured by a Kenyan gentleman in 2015, when he was mistakenly booked on a flight to Pyongyang ... the capital of North Korea.Anyway, South Korea is just the latest in a very long line of countries and municipalities who have tried to leverage the unparalleled appeal of the world's two greatest sporting spectacles -- the Olympics and the World Cup -- in an effort to woo tourists, money, international prestige and investment, gentrification and other fabulous laurels. We've all heard the stories about bids versus hard costs, "white elephant" stadia and what-not. But does hosting one of these events pay off in the long run for the host city or country? That's what Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor and noted sports economist tries to determine in "Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics and World Cup," published in 2015.The short answer is straight-forward: not "no," but "hell, no."Let me pause and iterate that I am a good and normal citizen of both the United States and the world and love to watch both the Summer and Winter games, as well as the World Cup. From an athletics perspective, from a diplomatic perspective, from a human perspective, there's simply nothing that can match these events. Period. Got it? Not anti-Olympics or Cup. I am, however, solidly against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) -- two organizations so thoroughly, so exceptionally corrupt that it's hard for even the most nimble among us to wrap their minds around the audacity of their greed. I am solidly against spending hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars on athletic facilities that have a shorter lifespan than a carton of organic milk. I am solidly against authoritarian governments ... well, period. And I'm certainly against authoritarian governments using these games as both a tool of oppression against their own downtrodden citizens, and a public relations junket for the international community. Regardless of how you feel about the Olympics, you can come to no other conclusion than this: the games are great, and virtually everything else about them is a scandal. In the modern history of the Summer Olympics, only two cities have been able to game (so to speak) the system and come out winners -- Los Angeles and Barcelona. Los Angeles made out like a bandit in 1984, backing the IOC into a corner after two disastrous Summer Olympics in 1968 (Mexico City) and 1972 (Munich). With no one else in the bidding pool, L.A. stepped up and said they'd host BUT without spending public money and only if the IOC would cover any operating losses. Rather than building a cluster of soon-to-be-obsolete stadia, L.A. focused on sprucing up existing facilities. The result? Los Angeles wound up making money on the games. Of course, the balance of power has shifted back to the IOC since that time and the bidding wars have subsequently ramped up.Barcelona didn't make money on the games, but they did remake their city in a net-positive way -- and they managed to unveil themselves to the rest of the world as a prime vacationland (a gift that keeps giving to this very day). How did they do it? They did not bid on the games and then create a plan for hosting, as most cities and countries do. Rather, they created a transformational 20-year plan for their city -- a plan they believed would put them into position to eventually host the Olympic games in the future, if they chose to do so. Therefore, transportation, housing and recreation projects were created with the future of the city -- rather than the needs of the IOC -- top of mind. That shift guaranteed that extemporaneous projects and facilities were not constructed, and cost overruns chalked up to pressure to complete delayed projects were not a factor. (It also happened that Barcelona had suffered in obscurity under Spain's authoritarian leadership during much of the 20th century and was more than ready for a coming-out-party by the time 1992 rolled around.)Other recent games have not been remotely as successful as the 1984 and 1992 Summer Olympics. The 1976 games in Montreal were so expensive that it took the city more than 30 years to pay them off. The 1980 Moscow games were boycotted by the United States and other nations. The 1996 Atlanta games were marred by domestic terrorism. The 2000 Sydney games were a ratings flop -- and Sydney actually saw a decline in tourism in the years following the event. The 2002 Salt Lake City games were almost destroyed by corruption (remember, it was Willard Mitt Romney who parachuted into the state and saved the day). The 2004 Athens games may have been the straw that broke -- in literal economic terms -- the country (and very nearly the European Union). The Beijing games in 2008 were noteworthy for their smogginess and the extraordinary waste of money and materials that went into constructing now-empty facilities. The 2012 London games had a net-negative effect on the economy and tourism in Europe's most-visited city for several years following. The 2014 Sochi games were perhaps the worst ever -- played in a part of the world that barely experiences winter weather at all and notable for both its price tag (a staggering $50 billion dollars -- of which up to half or more was alleged to have been stolen by allies of President Vladimir Putin and nefarious contractors) and also for housing facilities so poorly constructed that they may as well have been two-dimensional. Then, there's Brazil, which hosted both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The former was a foretaste of malfeasance to come, as entire neighborhoods of destitute people were hustled out of their homes, some at gun point, and essentially scattered to the wind and out of FIFA's hair, opening up prime land for construction. Unnecessary stadia were constructed in remote parts of the country, virtually inaccessible by mass audiences (because the money that was earmarked for transportation was instead spent on things other than transportation). The 2016 games were notable for similar abuses of the poor, environmental pollution and for being so far behind the readiness timeline as to send the IOC in a somewhat frightening, somewhat humorous, full-on freak-out. So, what is the solution to these issues? Zimbalist offers several potential fixes. First, change the structure of the IOC and FIFA to ensure that power cannot be concentrated in the hands of a small group of people for years and years. Second, consider "permanent hosts." That is, Athens would be the permanent home of the Summer games, for instance -- eliminating the need to ready a new city every two years. Or, along the same lines, rotate among a fixed list of perpetually ready cities. Third, if idea No. 2 doesn't grab you, then both IOC and FIFA need to simply relax their standards for facilities. Allowing existing facilities to be utilized would drastically reduce the costs associated with building new buildings, which are often unnecessary and likely to be abandoned just weeks after the games wrap up. Any or all of these ideas could directly contribute to cost control, transparency and overall logistical improvements for these events. One thing is for certain, whether you like these potential fixes or not: Something has to be done to ensure that these awe-inducing spectacles are not overshadowed by the dubious tactics of those who manage them.

  • Sean Owen
    2019-03-10 15:59

    With Boston's disastrous 2024 bid in the news almost daily it seemed the right time to read this book. Zimbalist lays out what is broken with the system of mega sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup. One need not be an economist to follow along as Zimbalist details corruption, cost overruns and other disasters that always follow the World Cup and Olympics. Zimbalist does a great job of breaking down the Los Angeles and Barcelona games that are often touted by Olympics backers as success stories and showing that the successes here have little to do with the games themselves and more to do with how they are exceptions to the normal situation the games occur in. If the Olympics are coming to your town prepare for major disruptions, damage to local business, abandoned stadiums and a hefty tax bill that will prevent investment in things that are truly necessary. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone in a city considering a bid for these events.

  • Pinko Palest
    2019-03-25 15:56

    Should be required reading for any politician contemplating hosting bids for either the World Cup or the Olymppics, especially the latter. Also a very good introduction into how economics work and written in the most accessible of manners. Excellent

  • Brendan Monroe
    2019-03-07 10:33

    Who wants to host the Olympics? If you have any brains at all, you'll certainly decline the opportunity. But it's only recently that cities have begun pulling out of the mad race to host the Olympics. This despite the fact that the Olympics almost never give a positive return on investment.The same can be said about the World Cup, which is the more famously corrupt of the two. Perhaps this just boils down to the IOC being less blatant about taking bribes than FIFA is, but any bidding process that requires interested cities to spend tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars simply for the honor of BEING CONSIDERED, can't be considered entirely sacrosanct.The entire process is so corrupt and the provided benefits so very few that it's a wonder FIFA and the IOC have been able to run their little scam for so long. But, as Andrew Zimbalist points out, bidding for the Olympics has long been a non-partisan issue. Politicians from both sides of the aisle - all sides with regards to our more democratic friends in Europe - have gotten their hands dirty trying to bribe, bedazzle, and seduce the IOC and FIFA voters who are, in the meantime, busy stuffing their own pockets. The term "Circus Maximus" refers to the Ancient Roman custom of throwing huge, lavish spectacles to entertain - and in many cases, distract - the Roman populace. Think gladiator games in the Colosseum. And a Circus Maximus is exactly what the World Cup and Olympics have become - two grotesque, criminally expensive enterprises that exploit workers for pitiful wages and leave economic and environmental devastation in their wake. Politicians in the Western World have started to wake up to this, on account that their more democratic systems allow citizens to hold them immediately accountable. This is why Oslo withdrew from the race to hold the 2022 Olympics. Hard to spend billions to host something that over half of your citizens are against and manage to later survive their fury at the ballot box. But Oslo was in fact the fourth city to withdraw, leaving twin pillars of democracy China and Kazakhstan to battle it out (spoiler: Beijing won). This seems to reflect the new reality of these spectacles, in which the games themselves merely serve as the backdrop for what is, in fact, a coming out party for the despots of the third world. The only way for that to change and for the Olympics and World Cup to become respectable again is if their governing committees radically alter the way they currently do business. "Circus Maximus" is a devastating critique that should finally put the myth - that hosting one of these spectacles is good for country and business - to rest.

  • Devyn Duffy
    2019-03-15 13:31

    Circus Maximus is a short book filled with references to studies that are inconclusive as to whether the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup generate any net economic benefit to their host cities and nations. For example, for every tourist who comes to the games, another tourist decides to go elsewhere for the summer, and the locals decide to skip town until the games are over. The author goes into a little more detail about five hosts, including two who got it right (Los Angeles and Barcelona, who fit the Olympics into their existing plans and had most of the venues built before the bids were approved), one that was a mixed blessing (London, which pulled off a successful Olympics in 2012 with questionable benefit to the poor neighborhoods that hosted it), one logistical nightmare (Brazil, which was awarded the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics long before it had the infrastructure or economy to support either), and one absolute disaster (Sochi, whose 2014 Winter Olympics construction was so corrupted that it cost more than every previous Winter Olympics combined). From these case studies, the author concludes that Los Angeles and Barcelona were unique cities and that most prospective host cities and countries would be better off passing on hosting the games and just spending the money on projects that will directly benefit their residents.Unspoken in the book is the possibility that hosting the Olympics or the World Cup might make sense if a prospective host sees hosting the games as a purchase rather than as an investment. For example, it might make sense for Los Angeles to host the Olympics and for the United States to host the World Cup every twenty years or so. In both cases, the venues have already been built and the infrastructure is already in place, so the games would not cost much to put on and there would be no need to expect a return on the relatively small cost. On the other side, the IOC and FIFA might be better off changing their bidding process so that prospective hosts submit bids many more years in advance and start constructing the venues and infrastructure early, and then the winning bid would be the one that is closest to completion--a key lesson in the book is that a big source of problems for hosts is that their bids are approved before most of the venues are built, and then costs spiral out of control.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-12 16:49

    Good blend of economics and sports. I have been following the selection process for mega events for many years and find the economics fascinating.

  • Evan
    2019-02-26 16:37

    Had some interesting stuff, but felt like haters are going to hate throughout

  • Kevin
    2019-03-25 15:46

    Well researched and very interesting. The book is definitively one sided, but it's up front and unapologetic about it.

  • Caleb
    2019-03-06 13:36

    I'll admit it. I picked this one to zip through one more book before year's end. And I got what I deserved. A just-ok book by an academic on how bad an economic deal hosting the Olympics and World Cup is. It's all of 160 pages but you still feel like every key fact is repeated three times by that point. His research and findings seem sound and true, but it goes on far too long and he lacks the storyteller's touch that would fill it out with context. Instead, he just repeats facts and that gets wearisome. He also had the unfortunate issue of writing this in 2014 before the Sepp Blatter fiasco and other things blew up which all corroborated his thesis but all he could do was hastily add a postscript and then edit around the edges of some chapters to point to the postscript, which only added to the feeling of being repetitive.

  • Jill Jaracz
    2019-02-26 17:42

    An interesting read about the economics and current issues with hosting mega sporting events. Short read--more Olympics than FIFA--and so doesn't get too deep into all of the issues, but it's a good read for getting an overview of the situation.

  • Darren
    2019-03-22 18:49

    The figures bandied about are astounding, yet so may be the claims about potential economic benefit. What is this about? The World Cup and the Olympics and how pumping in massive amounts of money might not be as advantageous, to the sport at least, as many involved parties will have you believe.The author takes a hard look at these two landmark sporting events that seem to be tainted by money, bringing with it often scandal and horse-trading in the shadows. Even the most sports disinterested person must have seen news articles about FIFA and the difficulties some of its senior officials have faced and the intriguing allegations that stand behind them. The mainstream media has hardly been silent about the stratospheric costs involved to host the modern-day Olympics either. During the bidding stages many politicians and those with a vested interest make fine words about the economic benefits the event will bring and how it is clearly going to be a win-win for everyone. Unfortunately, it appears this is far from always true.Throughout the book, the author provides a lot of interesting information to sustain his arguments and it really draws you in. It is astounding that some countries are spending over USD100 million on the bidding process alone for a major event. It is certainly a good payday for consultants and sadly, as reports show, some of the money has found itself falling either directly or indirectly into the pockets of some influencers along the way on many occasions. Some of the figures mentioned make it seem to be Monopoly money. The U.S.-hosted World Cup cost “several hundred” million dollars to host in 1994. By 2010 it jumped to USD5-6bn in South Africa and four years later in Brazil it came in at USD15-20 bn. Clearly the public can’t be trusted with a detailed figure, but it seems inconceivable that this amount of money can be spent on a sports event. Hold on to your hat! The author speculates that the Qatar 2022 World Cup, already steeped in controversy with many things such as the working conditions for those building the stadia, could break the budget with USD220bn or more. No, that is not a misprint. It is not USD22bn but USD220bn! The Olympic Games are no different: first there’s a call for bids from host countries and cities and at each stage various fees (USD150,000 here, USD500,000 there and so on) is paid to the IOC to whittle down the group. Lots of lobbying and representation is carried out that can be a profitable enterprise for some.The author gives many examples of where the promised upturn in tourism due to a major sporting event has failed to materialise, often it goes the other way and by a quite sizeable figure. Each positive argument presented is knocked down by the author with apparent ease. Why is he a relatively lone voice, questioning the delights of the Emperor and his new clothes?It is a very engaging book. Depressing in many ways such is the greed, avarice and wastefulness of the whole process for what is a game of sport at the end of the day. Read it and prepare to see your blood pressure rise and your jaw to drop in the process, even if you believe you know about the apparent waste already. There is a lot to read… not that it will change a few well-pampered souls from rushing to dip their head in a well-provisioned trough!

  • Dеnnis
    2019-03-13 15:36

    Книга для чтения по четным годам, когда большинство населения планеты (согласно заверениям Томаса Баха, президента МОК) бросает все и садится смотреть Олимпиаду или чемпионат мира по футболу. После нее ваш взгляд на самые большие шоу на земле неминуемо поменяется. Автор — специалист в области экономики спорта, консультант нескольких спортивных ассоциаций, компаний, лиг и команд, бывший сотрудник United Nations Development Program и US Agency for International Development. Первый вариант Circus Maximus вышел в 2015 году, быстро стал бестселлером, и через год Brooking Institution Press выпустил второе, обновленное и расширенное издание. Коммерциализация спорта высших достижений ни для кого давно не секрет, однако этапы и детали отхода от принципов де Кубертена и сдачи одного за другим высоких идеалов остаются в основном за кадром. Что, впрочем, неудивительно: как еще можно превратить мероприятие, за право проведения которого в 1984 году боролся лишь один город — Лос-Анджелес, в престижнейший трофей, на который спустя 20 лет претендовало уже 11 стран? Cегодня Международный олимпийский комитет и ФИФА являются единоличными хозяевами Олимпиады и Кубка мира по футболу соответственно. Когда имеешь дело с монополистами, то неизбежно переплачиваешь. Чтобы поток заявок на проведение и спонсорство не иссякал, МОК и ФИФА регулярно перетрясают игровое поле — например, первая организация разводит зимние и летние Игры, а вторая отменяет принцип ротации континентов проведения чемпионатов. Эндрю Зимбалист утверждает, что играть по таким правилам могут только те, кому не надо отчитываться за потраченное. Так оргкомитет Игр в Нагано просто сжег всю бухгалтерскую документацию, а сочинские Игры побили все рекорды расходов (свыше $50 млрд). Чемпионат мира по футболу 2022 года в Катаре, по предварительным подсчетам, обойдется в $200 млрд — в 10 раз дороже, чем бразильский World Cup 2015. Особенно шокирующим является анализ эффектов от мегасоревнований: после сеульской Олимпиады 1988 года практически ни одно из заявленных оргкомитетами ожиданий не воплотилось в жизнь.

  • Michael
    2019-02-27 12:37

    In this book, Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist surveys the literature on the impacts of hosting the Olympics and the World Cup Finals on the local economy. Zimbalist is an expert on how the business and economics of sports such as baseball; here he branches out to provide context for the two to four week massive events. The book offers a combination of reviews of the academic literature, detailed discussions of individual and noteworthy events (Barcelona and Sochi Olympics and the Brazil World Cup Finals), economic inefficiencies related to the bidding process, and some examples summarizing how cities and countries get themselves into the bidding process. While cost overruns averaging 270% are eye-rolling but widely known, Zimbalist shows how just bidding for the Olympics can often run $100 million or more -- and is nearly always done by private businesses looking after their own interests, not the long-term public benefit. He provides compelling and detailed evidence that the local economic activity during the events themselves are nowhere near to making up the costs of hosting the events -- only around 10-20% with very generous assumptions. The conclusion is clear: any economic benefits of hosting the Olympics or World Cup Finals can only be a result of long-term impacts, such as improved region-wide infrastructure, housing, or tourism. The book is timely given that Boston has been selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In many places, however, the book appears to have been rushed to publication and could benefit from a strong editorial cleanup. Some of Zimbalist's points are made repeatedly with virtually identical language in multiple places in the book. Economics arguments about (im)perfect information and the principal agent model are introduced in the last chapter, given little context, and out of character with the popular tone of the rest of the book. The book is nonetheless enjoyable and informative. It should be required reading for any potential host community.

  • Egemen Onen
    2019-03-03 17:30

    A bit too major event-sceptic but contains useful datasets and historical information about the subject.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-23 16:53

    A short book, but a dense, well-researched one. Zimbalist offers a compelling case for why mega-sporting events are bad economic deals for the host cities. He explains the reasons for notable exceptions like Barcelona ("a central feature of the Barcelona experience is that the plan preceded the games, and hence the games were put at the service of the preexisting plan, rather than the typical pattern of the city development plan being up at the service of the games") and Los Angeles ("“Following the political debacle in Mexico City, the horrific terrorist acts in Munich, the financial catastrophe in Montreal, and the extensive boycott of Moscow, the Olympic brand was markedly diminished. The only candidate to host the 1984 Summer Games was Los Angeles").He shows how hosting the Olympics does not increase tourism as often expected and exacerbates the upward redistribution of wealth (particularly with regard to gentrification of neighborhoods). He explains the flaws of the ex ante job growth forecasts, noting the many flawed assumptions they make.He ends the book with suggested reforms for both FIFA and the IOC.The last line of the book is a resonant end: "In most cases, the electorate has been willing to settle for circuses, and the promise of bread. When the electorate demands bread itself, as it has in Brazil, then politicians will be forced to take notice." Here's to that!

  • Jessica
    2019-03-21 18:46

    No to Boston 2024! I was already against my city, Boston, bidding for and potentially hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics but this book strengthened my rage against the mega-event. Nothing good can come of it. This book is an excellent analysis of Olympic and World Cup events throughout history with in-depth case studies of a few examples of best and worst case scenarios. The author's personal views never come into the writing, it is a very careful look backed by hard evidence of the ways in which mega-events can be damaging to a city physically, financially, and environmentally and the purported short and long term benefits generally do not come to fruition. Anyone interested in learning more about the Olympics and World Cup events which are increasingly becoming more corrupt and more harmful to a city and its residents should read this short but thorough economics survey. The writing though at times technical is easy to understand and found myself quoting unbelievable statistics from it out loud to my partner as I read it. A must-read for all Boston residents in 2015 and any city leaders throughout the world considering hosting a mega-event. At the end of the book Zimbalist suggests reforms for FIFA and the IOC which are quite reasonable and a nice touch that these events need not be abolished but do need a serious overall.

  • Eric
    2019-03-25 16:49

    Disclosure: I won an ARC as part of a Goodreads giveaway.This was a pretty quick read and I love the scholarly layout i.e. summary of the argument and thesis statement as well as chapter breakdowns in the introduction. I always find that really helpful and lets me know right from the start where the author is going and what perspective he's taking. I don't like being blindsided halfway through by the author's opinion.This is clearly a well researched book and he goes into some depth in his chosen examples as to what happened in economic terms and why the expected returns didn't materialize. Its written in a style that is easy to follow and pretty much anyone should be able to understand what he's saying.On the whole, I don't think anyone will be surprised by his conclusions. I think its fairly well understood that benefits of hosting mega-events are often misstated don't materialize. This book is an interesting explanation for why that is, but there were no earth-shattering revelations. I think this is a book that needed to be written though if for no other reason than people continue to make the case that there are economic benefits to these events. As the author points out, these people are usually the ones that stand to gain from hosting.

  • Lachinchon
    2019-03-10 17:32

    Circus Maximus is a short but sufficient analysis of the pitfalls of a city or country hosting the “mega-events” of the Olympics or World Cup. If you have ever seen photos or videos of the unused and decaying stadia of former Olympic sites, the white elephants as Zimbalist calls them, then the conclusion of the book should come as no surprise: these events are most often economic disasters. There are success stories – LA in 1984 and Barcelona in 1992 – and Zimbalist gives them their due, but also shows the uniqueness of each that is ordinarily not replicable for other sites. Make no mistake, this is an economics text, not a novel or pop star biography, and although Zimbalist intends and succeeds in addressing the book to a general audience, it retains a certain dry textbook narrative. The book has a number of relevant and helpful charts and graphs, but is not weighed down with numerical minutiae or intricate economic formulae. It can be read in a day or two and it is well worth the time.

  • Wisconsin Alumni
    2019-02-25 10:32

    Andrew Zimbalist ’69AuthorAuthor Andrew Zimbalist looks beyond the headlines of two of the world’s most beloved sporting events: the Olympics and the World Cup.In the expanded and updated edition of his bestselling book, Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup, Zimbalist tackles the bogus claim that the cities chosen to host these high-profile sporting events experience an economic windfall. He now takes aim at the outrageous FIFA scandal, Boston’s bid for the 2024 summer Olympics, and the criticism surrounding the 2015 Women’s World Cup.Circus Maximus focuses on major cities like London and Barcelona that have previously hosted these sporting events to provide context for cities like Tokyo and Rio de Janerio, which are currently bearing the weight of exploding expenses, corruption, and protests. Zimbalist offers a sobering look at the Olympics and the World Cup outside of the echo chamber.

  • Gaspar
    2019-03-14 15:51

    This is a Great book to understand the economics and the perverse incentives that exist behind the scenes of the Olympic Games and the World Cup. The book tells a story based on reality and facts and is one about the legacy of the debt burden, broken promises, the new higher cost of living for the middle and lower classes and the high maintenance expenses for the newly built facilities after the Games. It would seem that the only beneficiaries are the corporations that built the facilities and charged for their services and of course the members (and their families) of the Olympic and World Cup CommitteesIt also tells the story about the lavish life style and corruption that lurks in the Committees, both in the Olympic Games and the World Cup.The book is very easy to read, is very short and with great statistics about revenues, TV right fees, etc.A true and definitive guide to the Olympic and World Cup Real Costs and economics.

  • Carter Hemphill
    2019-03-06 15:55

    The Economist magazine recommended this book and given how short the book is (170 pages), I purchased the e-book. I had read articles about the troubles about the Olympics and World Cup, but this book does a great job in explaining why there are few cities today which want to host these events. They are extremely costly and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA have absurd requirements which inflate considerably the cost of these events. I was a volunteer at the Nagano Winter Olympics and I had heard about the absurd rules and the extreme expectations of the IOC members while I was at the Games. This book suggests that the excesses have ballooned to ridiculous proportions.It's a short book but it will leave a lasting impression about the need for reform at IOC and FIFA.

  • Aman
    2019-02-22 16:37

    A short and timely polemic by a respected sports economist on the economics of sporting mega-events, the book goes on to demolish point by point, every claim associated with these great modern spectacles (from monetary to 'legacy'). The book is short, dense and remarkably well researched though a little repetitive at times (I noticed a number of sentences repeating every other chapter). However, on the whole it makes a convincing case for its thesis. It definitively changed my view on these so called mega-events - I can't in good conscience support any city/country hosting them as they are designed now. This very conclusion was something I went into the book hoping to avoid coming too - but the case is well made. Well made indeed.

  • Brandt
    2019-02-28 12:37

    This a concise and well sourced look at one of the biggest scams in the world--the mega sporting event in the guise of the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Zimbalist cuts through the crap and exposes these events for what they are--diversions of public funds that could be better spent bending the public and all of the corruption and graft that goes along with it. He even tries to propose solutions that would make putting on the games more equitable to the hosts, but given the roadblocks he exposes in this volume, they aren't likely to happen.

  • Nick Ieronimo
    2019-03-19 11:47

    Good story poorly writtenI found the book to be interesting but poorly written. It was overly repetitive, it was poorly edited with many similar points being made over and over again. It also didn't flow properly, without a logical flow to the points being made. Frankly it looked like an interesting article that has been padded out to become book size. Lastly the author points to all the problems faced by the IOC and FIFA but offers no solution to how to fix them.

  • Scott Lundy
    2019-03-03 16:32

    This was an excellent and concise look at the economic effects of hosting mega sporting events, such as the olympics and world cup. The author concludes that hosting such an event is a bad investment for host cities/countries, except in a very narrow set of circumstances. Overall, I found this book to be persuasive and informative. After reading this book, I have to say I'm relieved my hometown Chicago lost out on its bid to host the 2016 olympics.

  • Rashmi Tiwari
    2019-02-23 16:36

    This is a research-heavy, academic look at why hosting large events like the Olympics and the World Cup take huge economic tolls on their host cities. I read it because I live in Boston and am ardently against the Olympics coming here (please, please go somewhere else) and it added some infuriating depth to my position.A niche read, to be sure, but I enjoyed it despite the sometimes data-heavy prose.

  • Kyle
    2019-03-04 15:44

    A solid review of the economic case for and against bidding on a World Cup or Olympic Games.

  • Pat Arnold
    2019-03-04 13:41

    Really good book to understand the true cost of hosting Olympic and World Cup. We've all seen photos of the neglected buildings, but no clear understanding of how did it end up like that. This book goes into detail the bid process, who paid for what, who actually benefit for hosting it, how the system is just thrive for corruption.

  • Beth
    2019-03-03 11:57

    This book could have been called "Andrew Zimbalist Ruins the Olympics." Even if you are a dedicated sports fan, it is hard to dispute his argument that sports mega-events are usually a bad deal for the citizens of the host city/country. It's a well-written book and a fairly quick read.

  • Diane Henry
    2019-02-24 17:57

    Via npr