By Eric Law

To many nations, particularly those still developing, the Olympics is seen as one big marketing event. The biennial competition gives each host country a chance to show off its cultural, military and political importance to billions of people in a favourable way.

According to a 2009 study by Andrew K. Rose, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mark M. Spiegel, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, countries that host “mega-events” like the Olympics or the World Cup experience significant increases in trade and tourism before, during and after.

These events can boost a nation’s international reputation significantly. Studies of the Olympics held in South Korea, Spain, Australia and even Greece showed that host countries became more visible and were portrayed more positively over time in international media. Vladimir Putin openly stated that one of the main goals of hosting the Sochi 2014 Winter Games was to influence international opinions of Russia, in particular the message that Russia was growing in the world stage in a peaceful and cooperative manner.

From the first time we see our flag enter the stadium to the last time the national anthem is played, everyone is struck with Olympic fever. While the fiscal disadvantages of hosting the Games can potentially outweigh the positives, it’s understandable that many countries host the Olympics because of both its global PR value and the possible economic benefits.

(Photo courtesy of Agência Brasil)