Heralded as the next emerging economic powerhouses, the BRIC nations also wear less seemly badges. Brazil was criticised heavily this week for its (lack of) Olympic preparation ahead of the 2016 games in Rio. IOC Vice President John Coates said: ‘The IOC has formed a special task force to try and speed up preparations. It is unprecedented for the IOC but there is no plan B.’
By being described as worse than the notoriously late Athens games, Brazil joins its contemporaries in failing to deliver on the world stage. While no project the size of an Olympics is without setbacks and difficulties, the problems of corruption and ill-conceived delivery shown at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Beijing, Sochi and now Rio Olympics raise serious questions.
As the world becomes more globalised the disparity between rule of law and best practice on one hand and rhetoric and kickbacks on the other is growing more pronounced. Events such as the Olympics and the Football World Cup are bridges to growth, global investment and sporting legacy. They are chances to be seized but they are too often passed up. In turn, the givers of these chances rely more on hope that somehow recent economic success can translate into successful project delivery.
There have been success stories (Chinese infrastructure, South African tourism) but the opportunity to attract long term investment often leaves with the last team bus. Worst of all, host-countries that are oppressed, poorly constructed or fiscally skewed affirm, rather than dissolve, bad characteristics – for example Sochi appeared to celebrate not condemn corruption in Russia.
It is right to award such chances to emerging states but if the management is shoddy and the infrastructure token, then their legacy is a sham and they do the Olympics, and themselves, a disservice.