Can I take more than one Olympiad

Sports policy and the Olympics

Helmut Digel

To person

Dr. phil., born 1944; Council member of the World Athletics Federation IAAF; Professor at the University of Tübingen, Institute for Sports Science, Wilhelmstrasse 124, 72074 Tübingen.
Email: [email protected]

In all likelihood, the Games will be a sporting, social and commercial success for China. The country could particularly benefit from the structural effects. However, there are also risks.


The question of the impact of the Olympic Games has a long history and has produced a bewildering variety of answers. On the occasion of the XXIX. At the Beijing Olympic Games this year, this question will be asked again and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be after the Games are over.

The history of the modern Olympic Games can be described as a success story. More and more athletes in more and more sports are taking part in them, global interest has grown continuously, the award of hosting the Games has become an object of desire for almost all major industrial nations, and it is obvious that they can also generate considerable economic gains achieve. On a closer look, however, it can be seen that the games were not always successful for the hosts. Rather, from today's perspective, some organizers have to be called losers. The cities of Tokyo, Munich, Los Angeles and Seoul are considered extremely successful organizers. The Games in Japan in 1964 are associated with the country's economic take-off. In 1972 in Munich, a new, cosmopolitan Germany with exemplary sports facilities and pioneering infrastructure presented itself to the international public. The 1984 Los Angeles games were characterized by the feature of the money turn over - for the first time substantial profits could be made. The 1988 Games in Korea are linked to the transformation process of a society towards a parliamentary democracy. The games of Montreal in 1976, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 contrasted with such a track record. In Montreal, the host's economic balance was almost a catastrophe, Sydney complained of insufficient cost recovery despite the atmospherically successful games and was unable to ensure the sustainability of the sports facilities, and in Athens the follow-up costs associated with the hosting have not yet been resolved.

The question therefore arises to what extent the high expectations that Chinese society has for hosting the Games can actually be met. The year 2008 did not start in the way that the political leadership of the country would have liked. Winter storms crippled large parts of the Chinese economy for several weeks, and the uprisings in Tibet isolated China internationally. Economic development is showing dangerous alarm signals. The inflation rate is rising and the real estate market has been shaken for a long time. The energy shortage is affecting current and future developments. Despite these rather adverse initial conditions, international experts, but not least the Chinese themselves, assume that the Olympic Games in Beijing can meet all the expectations that both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the hosts associate with these games.

If you want to put these expectations to the test, then the fundamental questions about the socio-political and economic significance of major sporting events can be of further help. There are a large number of studies in which these relationships have been examined more or less systematically and precisely. [1] The empirical findings presented in this regard are contradictory, the conclusions of most contract research work questionable. Nevertheless, with regard to the question of the usefulness of the Olympic Games in Beijing, several fields of activity can be distinguished that can be used for an answer.