The Global Stage

By Michael Payne

The Olympic Games are unique in their ability to present a host nation and a city to the world. No other sports event, or any other type of event for that matter, offers such a global stage. Recent host cities have begun to appreciate the true potential of hosting the Games. How a host government takes advantage of its brand identity internationally is critical in terms of future trade and investment. The nation and the city need to define the image, what it wants to tell people about itself, in the brief time it is under the spotlight. It must also develop a post-Games strategy to help build a long-term business legacy.

For any nation, the economics of staging the Olympic Games are best understood as a Herculean re-branding campaign. The aim of any rebranding exercise is to take a product with a certain image and turn this perception around. The Olympics have the effect of focusing the world’s attention, for a very brief moment, on a single city and the culture and character of the host nation.

Hosting the Olympics can be an expensive path to self-esteem – but one that, correctly managed, is one of the most cost-effective, powerful and rewarding undertakings that a government and a nation can embark on. Only once in the last twenty years, has a city got it wrong. The mistake at Atlanta was one of short-termism over long-term investment.