By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

March 15 - Cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics should make sure that hosting the event fits into their strategic goals and also that they are worth it, a new report published today by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

Annecy and Munich are both set to submit their Applicant Files to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by today's deadline to join Pyeongchang who finished their document last Wednesday (March 10).

But the new report, written by Andrew Zimbalist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and published in Finance and Development, the IMF's monthly publication, said that all three bidders should carefully assess the value of hosting the event.

He writes: "The economic and non-economic value of hosting a major event like the Olympic Games is complex and likely to vary from one situation to another.

"The bidders for the next [sic] Winter Olympics - France's Annecy, Germany's Munich and South Korea's Pyeongchang - would do well to steer clear of the inevitable Olympic hype and to take a long, hard, and sober look at their regions' long-term development goals."

All three bidders are hoping that a successful bid will help promote their cities ski resorts and help increase tourism.

Zimbalist writes: "The indirect economic benefits generated by mega sporting events are potentially more important than the direct benefits, but are more difficult to quantify.

"One possible indirect benefit is the advertising effect of such events.

"Many Olympic host metropolitan areas and regions view the Olympics as a way to raise their profile on the world stage.

"In this sense, the intense media coverage before and during the Olympic Games or other big events is a form of advertising, possibly attracting tourists who would not have otherwise considered the city or region, and who may generate significant, broad, and long-lasting economic benefits."

The Professor (pictured) claimed that it is difficult to quantify whether hosting the Olympics leads to increased tourism benefits but there is no doubt that they do have benefits.

He said: "Hosting an event like the Olympic Games or the World Cup can generate significant intangible benefits for the host city or region, whose residents are likely to derive appreciable pride and sense of community from hosting the event.

"Their homes are the focus of the world’s attention for a brief but intense period.

"The planning and work required to host the event take significant time and effort - much by volunteers - and engender a considerable local and national sense of accomplishment.

"These factors are both important and valuable, even though researchers find it difficult to place a dollar value on them."

Zimbalist also predicted that - based upon the experiences of previous host cities, including London - the amount budgeted for the Games by Annecy, Munich and Pyeongchang will not be enough by the time it comes to staging them.

He writes: "Between the time a host city puts in its bid for an event and the time it takes place, construction costs and land values may increase significantly.

"Also, early proponents of hosting an event in a particular city find it in their interest to under-represent the true costs while they seek public endorsement.

"And as would-be host cities enter into competition with other bidders, there is a natural tendency to match their competitors’ proposals and to add bells and whistles to their plans.

"The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, were initially budgeted at about $12 billion (£8 billion).

"The projected cost in late 2009 reached $33 billion (£21.7 billion) of which $23 billion (£15 billion) was from public sources."

To read the full report click here.

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