A record drop in Chinese stocks and tumbling global markets had government officials, investors, companies, stockholders and numerous others fearfully tracking numbers on Monday. Some said it was too soon to panic, however, and cited a range of economic measures that could rebuild confidence in the world's second-largest economy. One of them? The 2022 Olympics.
Beijing is set to become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, after it won a bid against Almaty, Kazakhstan, in July for the 2022 Games. After the 2008 Summer Olympics were held in China, bilateral trade between China and South Africa, Saudi Arabia and South Korea increased significantly. Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, some speculate that anticipation of those games could encourage investment if they can generate sufficient levels of interest.
Yet by most measures, the Olympics are not as much of an economic boon for host countries as proponents of the games argue. Countries spend billions on infrastructure and preparations that "seem fertile ground for economic expansion and strong investment performance," noted a 2013 report on investment opportunities from the Olympics, compiled by Fidelity Investments. But "mega-sporting events usually leave the host nation with budget overruns and massive debt, and event-driven investment strategies have rarely succeeded," it concluded.
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Qingwen Dong, a professor of media studies at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, told Al Jazeera America that China's state-run media has conveyed a pointed message about the 2022 Olympics: "China can be the best host, and the event will be very successful," he said.
The 2008 Olympics helped boost trade with developing countries, Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst of Chinese business in Africa, told Al Jazeera America. The 2022 Games could have a similar effect, he suggested, as long as the Winter Olympics generate similar levels of interest -- which, so far, it does not appear to be doing. After Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the response was muted, if apathetic compared to the 2008 Summer Games.
The budget for the 2022 Olympics would be $3.9 billion, with $1.98 billion earmarked for operations and $1.92 billion for infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reported. Six new venues would have to be built. A high-speed rail line from Beijing to nearby Zhangjiakou was slated for construction regardless of whether the Olympics would be held.
Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported that the 2022 Games would attract $56.4 billion in investment. "We will create unparalleled development opportunities, not just in China but for the world," Vice Premier Liu Yandong said during China's bid to the International Olympic Committee in July.