Immediately after that I finished my Masters in International and European Politics, I went to Brasilia to do an internship for the UN Research Center, UNDP International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG).
It was there, I started my research about legacies, or the long term impacts, on countries which are hosting sport mega events, such as the Olympic Games and the Fifa World Cup. These are enormous events which require a huge amount of planning, infrastructure and hospitality facilities. I started in 2012, Brazil was then about to host, not just one, but TWO of these mega events, and I was curious to learn more about how these events usually impact a country and thereby how it could be predicted that it would impact Brazil. At that time, Brazil had recently overturned the UK as the world 7th largest economy, poverty had fallen and inequality improved. Brazil was doing really well in these regards, however, since then, the situation has changed dramatically in Brazil which is now in a serious economic crisis and a volatile political situation. And the outcome of these events? I was in Brazil during both the two sports mega events, and for sure Brazil and Rio de Janeiro managed to deliver the events well, and on time, even though the infrastructure and facilities around the Olympic Games were partly criticized for not keeping up the usual standard.
Though, whether the legacy in Brazil is positive or negative is a contested issue. Certainly, a lot of people suffered enormously due to these events, since many families lost their houses in forced evictions (http://www.rioonwatch.org/?tag=forced-evictions). As commonly happens, the budget was enormously over spent, and many of the promised infrastructure projects were scraped due to a lack of money. Some people argue that there will be a long term positive effect with an increased amount of tourism. On that issue, we will see.
In my conclusion and personal view, I believe sport mega events are not worth the investments and the huge sums which are being spent on them. Particularly not in countries with urgent social problems, such as a need for improvement of health care and education, which I believe should be given priority ahead of sport events. Curiously, both Brazil and Russia, which are both hosting two of these sport mega events with only a few years apart, are also countries with a known high corruption. Some people might be gaining of hosting these events, however it’s doubtful it is the general public. The more you learn about these events, the planning, cost and implementations, the harder it is to be positive about these sport mega events which tend to promise a lot of improvements which are rarely fulfilled, and on the back of it, forced evictions, people working under slave-like conditions and social “cleaning” such as moving homeless and street children, seem to be a given outcome.
It was predominantly my curiosity about the social impacts of these events, which made me start the research and to continue even after I left Brasilia. I remained in contact with IPC-IG and was interviewed about my research on their website in 2012. In 2013 I got in touch with a magazine for Brazilians living in Ireland and wrote a series of articles for them about my research. Later in 2013, I moved back to Rio, in order to be close to the heart of these events. Since then I have been given presentations in Brasilia for the UNDP research Center IPC-IG, in São Paulo for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, and in Rio de Janeiro in the Danish Culture Institute and at various occasions for university classes visiting Rio de Janeiro. On the back of my presentation in São Paulo, I had a meeting with UNICEF Brasil and upon request wrote a report for them regarding the impacts for children and adolescents from sport mega events.
In 2016 I worked with IPC-IG again. During a couple of months around the Olympic Games, I was employed as part of their research team, working on a research project about the sport centers Víla Olímpicas which the prefeitura of Rio de Janeiro runs in 22 locations, mainly favelas, in Rio de Janeiro. The research team visited the Vilas and conducted interviews in order to map out the actors involved, and learn about the structure of the Vilas and their impacts on the local community. I really enjoyed the experience and to be part of a team as suppose to conduct research by myself.
IPC-IG has been following my work over the years and below are a number of links to their website about my research and presentations I have done.
Number 1. Presentation Feb 2012, can the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games help promote Inclusive Growth in Brazil? (note the different economic and political landscape in Brazil 2012 to 2016..)
Number 2. Interview about my research in the Pressroom of IPC-IG, what are the motivations for countries wanting to host sport mega events and what are usually the economic outcomes for the host country?
Number 3. A text about my starting point of my research and whether hosting sport mega events can have a positive impact on poverty reduction and decreasing inequality.
Number 4. Presentation in Brasilia IPC-IG about the Social and Economic Legacies of sport mega events in Brazil, 2013
Number 5. Link to my slides during my presentation in 2013
Check out the links if you wish, and Thank You for Listening!