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Evaluation of Sports Tourism Event: Rio Olympics

Info: 1838 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in Tourism

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Sports tourism is a well-known growing industry that generates twelve to fifteen million international tourists per year (“World Sport Tourism Show”, 2018). It is a part of the tourism industry that involves leisure-based travel that temporarily takes part outside of the tourist’s home area. (Gibson 2006). It is used to visit destinations for a visit for specific purpose of taking part in a particular sport of choice (Inkson & 2018 pg 41). Sports tourism can be broken down into three separate categories: where tourists participate in physical activity referred to as, active tourism) watching physical activities, known as event tourism or taking part in tours or viewing of sports hall of fames, nostalgia tourism (Gibson 2006). The two destinations talked about in this essay are London, England 2010 Olympic games and the 2012 Rio de Janeiro games. These two countries show polar opposite results of hosting a mega event such as the Olympic games, where London shows many positive impacts of sustainable social development, while Rio suffers major loses in their economic impacts in sustainability.  While looking at these two destinations we can see the different effects of sustainably development at these destinations.

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The Rio Olympics held in 2016 was confronted with many unexpected surprises ranging from large financial issues, the community and environmental concerns that couldn’t be brushed away.Through these, the Olympic games, Rio’s overall tourism industry had a positive incline, helping Rio achieve a record amount of tourist in all of 2018 (‘Olympic Games Rio 2016’, 2017). Inkson & Minnaert define economic impact as; maximising income whilst maintaining a constant or increasing level of capital. Rio spent over ten years bidding and preparing for the 2016 Olympics games (Watts, J, 2016). When it came to the games, Rio knew they had three costs to consider, operational, venue, and infrastructure costs (Haddon, A, 2016)  Rio was left with tremendous debt adding up to over $1.6 billion over budget (Haddon, A. 2016). Some factors of this crisis were environmental concerns when it came to water events as well as police threatening to strike leading to security issues (Haddon, A. 2016).  Since Rio declared a financial state of emergency they had to increase taxes, resulting in loans from the government. Rather than the local community taxes going to local community infrastructure it went towards Rios infrastructure for this mega event which upset the community.

According to Pizam & Milman 2014 ‘social impact’ can be defined as the effect which tourism is contributing in changes in value systems, individual behavior, family relationships, collective lifestyles, moral conduct, creative expressions, traditional ceremonies, and community organization. In 2012, London won the bid to hold the 2012 Olympic games, a major international multi-sport event (Lee, S., Ghaye, T., & Dixon, M, 2013 pg 581). The goal of the London games was not only to make a summer memory but to create a legacy lasting a lifetime through a ‘re-generation game’ (Lee, 2013, pg 581). The London Olympic organizers (Locog) went through statistics of past countries which held the Olympics. As a result of being informed of past countries as well as considering London, a well-developed but small country. They targeted; Sport & Healthy Living, Regeneration of East London, Economic growth, Community growth and the legacy of Paralympics (Lee, 2013, pg 583). The goals were mutually supportive with the exception of the legacy of the Paralympics, but the purpose of this essay is to encompass the social impact the Olympics bring to London. (Lee, 2013, pg 583). The host city, East London was transformed into a thriving residential and commercial sector hub of London that has now been actively used (Lee, 2013, pg 581).  Increased formal and informal volunteering, 11,000 homes planned, 10, 000 jobs created and increased funding for recreational and elite sporting Lee, 2013, pg 582-583). All of these new social opportunities in London have increased the towns economic and social benefits to the host community as a result of paid accommodation, gift, food, and beverages hire fees, administration, transport and other spending at facilities. (Weed & Bull 2009)

According to Gordon Diem, sustainable development is referred to as the development that meets the consumption needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to increase their economic production to meet future needs. When looking at the 2012, London Olympics case this shows a great example of the positive social impact sport tourism can have on a country. For example, London’s use of facilities after the games, soccer stadium was transformed into a Premier League were London’s elite and recreational players have the opportunity to play at and make their profits through million-dollar TV contracts (Haddon, A. 2016).

When looking at Rio we see the exact opposite, Rio did not follow the basic sustainably principles and suffered millions of dollars through not evaluating the economic conditions before investing (Haddon, A. 2016.) One of Rio’s biggest problems was what to do with the venues after the games. For example, Rio could have upgraded a current golf course, Deodoro Olympic area to save money but instead build a brand-new golf course from scratch in a wealthy neighbourhood called Barra da Tijuca to maximize retail value profit and more real-estate properties. (Boykoff, 2016). During this time Rio declared a financial state of emergency and in order to pay for the new course ended up making a deal with a construction company to allow them to build 140 luxurious apartments around the golf course in return for building the course (Boykoff, 2016).

Both countries could benefit by following the principle of sustainably more closely for example basing Rio’s plans on the previous successes of the London Olympics it can be shown by London’s extensive research into past games and trying to build a sustainable community for future generations it made their Olympics so much more profitable. Rio could have learned a lot from the London Olympics and was told many times to follow London’s steps. By studying previous Olympics successes and failures the Rio Olympic Committee should come up with various solutions to excel socially, environmentally and economically in their Olympics. In this case Rio could have researched further into the cause of pollution in the waters as well as clean up the city ahead of the Olympics instead of pushing it back. They could have as well followed London’s foot steps to make the city rememberable and give it a sense of community by creating a Olympics village or safer environments. Looking into a economic solution Rio should not have tried to go over the top they could have saved a lot f money by refurbishing old builds and facilities instead of looking to profit off of the new areas. With Rio not following London’s success they will suffer many losses in the future. 

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In conclusion, while hosting mega events like the Olympic games can be ideal to enhance the countries identity, create jobs as well as infrastructure. Cities face difficulties trying to accurately assess the impact and costs a mega event can have on the country. This essay outlines the benefits as well the negatives hosting a mega event can have on the host community. For example, the London case studies shows how London experienced a social impact and was able to reinvent the cities. In the Rio case study, they had a negative economic impact by not researching past Olympic games and the time consuming labour and costs put int running a mega event. For example, Rio building a golf course is economically unsustainable while reinventing an existing golf course could be more economically sustainable. Overall the idea of hosting a mega event can attribute to a country’s sport tourism success but can have a down fall if it is not done correctly.


  • Abraham Pizam & Ady Milman (1986) The Social Impacts of Tourism, Tourism Recreation Research, 11:1,29-33, DOI: 10.1080/02508281.1986.11014414
  • Diem, G. N. (2013). Sustainable development. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=89474467&site=eds-live&scope=site
  • Heather Gibson (2005) Sport Tourism: Concepts and Theories. An Introduction, Sport in Society, 8:2,133-141, DOI: 10.1080/17430430500101996
  • Haddon, A. (2016, August 10). Is hosting the Olympics ever worth the cost? Retrieved November 4, 2018, from https://qz.com/753250/rio-2016-is-hosting-the-olympics-ever-worth-it/
  • Inkson, C., & Minnaert, L. (2018). Tourism management an introduction. Los Angeles: SAGE.
  • Lee, S., Ghaye, T., & Dixon, M. (2013). An economic and social legacy: Take note Rio. Reflective Practice,14(5), 581-584. doi:10.1080/14623943.2013.839449
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  • Weed, M., Bull, C., (2004, 2009) ‘Sport Tourism: participants, policy and providers’ , 1st edition, 2nd edition, UK: Elsevier Limited
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