In 776 B.C in Olympia, Ancient Greece, an event took place. Unknown to them, the event would remain etched in history as one of the world’s greatest and most celebrated sports events thousands of years to come. It was the first event of the now popular Olympics.
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On the debut, the first event was a sprint where the winner earned himself a leaf from the olive tree, being accorded a deity-like status by the poets and being recognized as a hero for the rest of his life (Witt & Martin, 1987).
Later, other sports were introduced. The first pair to join the Olympics were boxing and wrestling.
The modern Olympic Games can be traced back to 1892 when Barron Pierre de Coubertin a renowned educator from France proposed that the popular ancient Greek event be revisited and with more zest. In 1896 the first modern Olympic event was opened in Athens by seven countries.
In that event, American James Connolly emerged the winner of triple jump and was awarded a medal which was the first medal in modern Olympics (Short, 2003).
Also, the American flag was hoisted accompanied by the Star Spangled Banner a tradition for honoring the winner and his country that was maintained to date.
In 1900, the event was hosted in Paris, France. This witnessed the first inclusion of women. The first woman to earn a medal was Great Britain’s Charlotte Cooper who won in tennis singles. It was here that the first person to win more than a single medal was witnessed.
It was United States’ Alvin Kraenzlein who won a total of 4 medals. The next games were hosted in St. Louis in 1904. These witnessed the first staging of boxing in the competition (Getz, 1991).
There was a continuous staging of the event after every four years until 1916 when it failed to take place as a result of the then continuing First World War.
In 1920, the official Olympic flag was unfurled. Its five rings had colors which were similar to at least a single color present on a flag for every country.
During the 1920 event which was hosted in Antwerp, several countries including Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria were barred from participating in response to their alignments during the world war.
Due to WWII, the games were not hosted in 1940 and 1944. Since then, the event has been staged after every four years in different countries.
Having started from a humble background, the Olympic Games now boast the largest audience including hefty amounts of money invested in preparation for the games. For instance, Japan broke the first expenditure record during the preparation for the games in 1964 by spending $3 billion.
Given such importance attached to the games, one is left to wonder whether such hefty expenditures are worth it.
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Questions such as, are there benefits associated with the games to justify the hefty sums used in preparation? Also, is there any importance in participation that countries should put in too much money to send their participants?
To answer these questions, this article will highlight the importance of the Olympic Games one by one and hence oppose the fact that the Olympic Games should be discontinued.
The first importance of the Olympics is its promotion of positive values (Ritchie, 1988 and Roche, 1992). While the world is currently made with material possession, the Olympics offer a platform upon which honor plays the central role.
According to sources containing information on the ancient Greek athletics that later transformed to world Olympics, the winner of any event was not rewarded with any material possession. All they competed for was an honor.
A wreath of olives, heroic status and deification were all that there was to compete for. However, the competitors did their best just for such humble rewards. This is a clear indication that human values such as honor are promoted through this popular event of the Olympics.
To date, any winner of an event has the flag of his country raised, and his national anthem played. During such moments, most athletes are seen shedding tears as their national anthems play. This is a clear indication that these games give honor to the individual athlete and his country.
Olympic Games promote peaceful co-existence. During the Hellenic period, there was an increase in the emergence of city-states. Unfortunately, the states were characterized by unending feuds and wars. However, during the Olympic Games, hostilities were forgotten.
The states put aside their enmity and fought for honor through organized sports. This is one reason that made the Olympic Games withstand the test of time (Montanari & Williams, 1995).
Olympic Games offer a platform for economic growth (De Groote, 1997). These can be classified into two; short term and long term economic impacts. Short term economic impacts include direct impacts, indirect impacts, and induced impacts.
Direct impact involves the committee’s efforts through purchasing of goods and services from the citizens.
This is done in preparation and during the games. Indirect impact results from the visitors who pay to receive necessary services and in some cases goods from the citizens of the hosting nation. Induced impacts arise from the effects which eventually occur after the direct and indirect impacts.
In preparation and during the games, there is an influx of visitors including the athletes, the media, spectators, organizing committees et cetera (Medlik, 1996). Their presence increases earnings through the purchase of goods and services.
The Olympic Games account for numerous long term economic impacts. These include an increase in the recognition of the hosting nation and town (Kotler, Haider, & Rein, 1993). This comes about as a result of extensive media coverage that markets its touristic features.
Also, other long term impacts such as improved infrastructure and communication accompany the Olympic games. In preparation and during the games, road networks are developed to enhance communication around the hosting town and nation.
However, the visitors do not go away with the improved infrastructure. Instead, the local people are left with world-class facilities to enjoy. With such good roads and communication, there is a likelihood of an increase in business activities.
These improved roads and communication networks attract local and international investments. In Sydney 2000 for example, the city witnessed a $3 billion business outcome.
This was accounted by $600 million in terms of new entry business investments, an estimated $2 billion in contracts to maintain the infrastructure after the games et cetera. The city also attained an international exposure amounting to an estimated $6.1 billion (Short, 2003).
Tourism is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Olympic Games. The local tourism industry does not only benefit during the games but also after the events. This is attributed to the increased exposure to the world and hence potential markets.
This promotes sports tourism which increases the host nation’s revenue.
Sports tourism is, “…any form of active and passive involvement in sporting activity participated in casually or in an organized way for non-commercial or business/commercial reasons that necessitate travel away from home and work locality” (Fayos-Sola,1997, p.23).
In the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the country accounted for approximately $6 billion which was from inbound tourist expenditure. Without mentioning spectators, the number of participants is large enough to promote the tourist industry of any given nation.
For instance, there were 10,332 participants from 197 countries during the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. In Sydney 2000, there were 11,116 participants from 199 countries. The former attained 34% of its revenue from television rights. The total was increased to 40% for Sydney 2000 (Short, 2003).
With such great amounts of money used for television rights and participants coming from more than 190 countries, the exposure that a country gets during the Olympic Games is great This impacts positively on the local tourism industry.
In conclusion, the Olympic Games are a necessary event that offers a country great opportunities for economic growth.
This includes instilling of positive human values, economic benefits such as the creation of employment and an increase in revenue due to the purchase of goods and services and other contracts.
Furthermore, it leads to improved infrastructure and communication network designed to host the visitors and which later remains to the benefit of the local people. Also, the event leads to exposure of the country to the entire world leading to an increase in tourism.
Given the positive impacts, it is important that the event is promoted further so that more and more people can benefit from them. As a result, the Olympic Games should not be discontinued.
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Fayos-Sola, E. (1997). Conference Report: The Impact of Mega Events. Journal of Travel Research, September, 243-4.
Getz, D. (1991). Festivals, Special Events, and Tourism. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Print.
Kotler, P., Haider, D.,& Rein, I. (1993). Marketing Places. New York: The Free press (Macmillan). Print.
Medlik, S. (1996). Dictionary of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann. Print.
Montanari, A., & Williams, A. (1995). European Tourism: Regions, Spaces and Restructuring. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Print.
Ritchie, B. (1988). Assessing the Impact of Hallmark Events: Conceptual and Research Issues. Journal of Travel Research, 23(1), 2-11.
Roche, M. (1992). Mega-Events and Micro-Modernization; On the Sociology of the New Urban Tourism. British Journal of Sociology, 43, 563-600.
Short, J.R. (2003). Going for Gold: Globalizing the Olympics, Localizing the Games. GaWC Research Bulletin 100, 21.
Witt, S. & Martin, C. (1987). Measuring the Impacts of Mega-Events on Tourist Flows. AIEST Conference Report 37 (28), 213-221