The author implies that the Sydney Games

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The Olympic Effect

Since their beginning in 1896, the modern Olympic Games have been the gold standard of athletic prowess. Olympic competitors are the best in the world, and no trophy compares with an Olympic gold medal. Increasingly, however, the athletic competitions have been matched, if not overshadowed, by the fierce competition between cities and nations vying to host the Olympics. The amount of money and prestige at stake is so great that the phenomenon has been given a name: the Olympic effect. Although it is primarily an economic force capable of affecting the business climate of the host community for years before, during, and after the Games, the Olympic effect can also exert a powerful influence on the environment and society of the host community.

The economic impact of the Olympic Games is complex. Preparation for the Games usually generates vast investments not only in the stadiums, tracks, and other sports venues, but also in local highways, hotels, and airports. Thousands of jobs are created and billions of dollars are spent: Australia spent $2.1 billion for the Sydney Games in 2000, and Greece spent at least $11 billion only four years later. Long-term effects are generally positive, as the Games tend to improve the international image of the host city. While tourism is generally thought to increase during the event, the region hosting the Games may actually experience a drop in tourism and retail income, as people try to avoid the crowds, traffic, and price hikes they expect to find in the host city. Some Utah ski resort operators experienced a 20–30 percent drop in visitors during the Salt Lake City Games.

The environmental repercussions of the Olympic effect are also mixed. On the one hand, in the years following the Sydney Games, also known as the “Green Games,” participating communities developed recycling programs, emphasized renewable energy sources, and built or extended mass transit systems. Salt Lake City, for instance, built a 21-kilometer TRAX light rail system. Some, like Sydney and Beijing (2008), have also made notable efforts to clean up their municipal environments. Sydney actually built most of its Olympic venue over a reclaimed toxic waste dump that had once blighted the city. To clear its polluted air, Beijing has converted much of its energy production from coal to natural gas, and implemented new smokestack and vehicle emissions guidelines. Medical researchers estimate that the benefit to Beijing residents’ health will amount to many billions of dollars over the coming decades. On the other hand, the Games create enormous consumption of fossil fuels and strain the waste disposal systems. The Winter Games in particular often result in accelerated development of important wildlife habitats.

Social aspects of the Olympic effect are varied and include a growth in civic pride. But the biggest social impact of the Olympic effect is a predictable one: a sharp growth in public interest in those sports highlighted during recent Games. In the United States, this can best be seen in the ice sports. The figure skating drama between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in 1994 played a part in piquing interest, as did the gold medal of Tara Lipinski in 1998. American successes in speed skating and hockey have also inspired interest. The result has been a 50 percent increase in the number of ice arenas in the United States in the last 15 years. Dallas, Texas, built eight between 2000 and 2002 alone. Related sports such as speed skating, hockey, and even curling have seen a tremendous growth in interest. Even southern cities like Tampa Bay, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia, now have hockey teams.

When the modern Olympic Games were first held in 1896, they were conceived as a celebration of the human body and the human spirit. This has not changed. But now the Games are something more. They profoundly shape the lives of people who never set foot inside the arenas. They are the paramount international pageant, turning the spotlight on cities, nations, and people, prompting them to find the best in themselves and hold it up for all to see.

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The author implies that the Sydney Games

AnswerChoose the correct answer.Choose all that apply. Correct Partially correct Incorrect Don't Know

  1. A
    Correct Answer
    Led to the discovery of a toxic waste dump
  2. B
    Correct Answer
    Caused a great deal of environmental damage
  3. C
    Correct Answer
    Led to an increase in environmental programs
  4. D
    Correct Answer
    Cost less to host than most other Olympic Games
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