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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Mega events

“Events can be classified according to two underlying motivations - leisure and business. More specifically, leisure events may be sport or oriented and business events may be meeting (e.g summits) and conferences”  

Mega-events are short-term high profile events like Olympics and World Fairs that are usually thought of in terms of their tourism and economic impacts (Hall, 1992; Getz, 1997).  The large development of infrastructure and tourist equipment id considered a mega-event because of their organizational structure.

Yiftachel and Hedgcock thus suggest that the city’s role as a “long-term viable setting for human interaction, communication, and cultural development”. In the light of mega-event-driven development, can crate new forms of spatial exclusion and inclusion through cultural and socio-spatial. Kearns and Forrest contribute refer that the contribution on multi-level urban governance and social cohesion add a fruitful link to urban space, bringing together the production of social order and civic culture with urban design and management of public spaces.

Implementing the Euro Cup can led to ambiguous results concerning the socio-spatial transformations, they can reflect the overall state of social sustainability in urban development and planning in each case irrespective of the event-related interventions.

Manzi et al. emphasized that establishing a socially and sustainable society remains a fundamental goal of our time.

Referring to Marcuse they continue by stating that “the principles need to be clarified and the elasticity of the concept needs to be defined more effectively to produce useful practical strategies”.

We  need to try to see the highlights, evaluate the way how societies evolve and exist in urban settings is mainly influenced by the way that cities are changed through the structures of governance and their methods.

Mega-event projects are typically of such a large scale and the processes used to develop them so distant from the people who will both finance and be impacted by them, once the project is moving forward there is  no chance to predict the social consequences or to know how will react the ones who were affected.

During the last 20 years, Lisbon was the stage to a lot of mega events as European capital of culture (1994), EXPO’98, UEFA EURO 2004 and lately Web Summit 2016.

This events are the best opportunity for the hosts to increase the business opportunities and attract new capital for the city witch leads to a better position and international prestige. Although this events can improve the citizens quality of life, some negative consequences can happen: like escaping prices, lack of supply on transport, security issues or increased taxes. Thats why it is so important the local residents acceptance, to contribute with their hospitality and to enhance the sustainability of the event’s benefits (Gursory and Kendal, 2006).

Impacts

Ritchie (1984) elaborated a framework which exposes the impacts of mega-events. They are identified in six types.

Economic

Tourist/commercial

Physical/environmental

Social/cultural

Psychological

Political/administrative

Economic

The nature of the jobs created may also implicate in the social polarisation between the employed and the unemployed, relevantly skilled and unskilled, and in terms of the new flexibilisation of employment connected with the service sector employment (Roche 2000). More jobs do not necessarily have an immediate effect on unemployment rates especially if projects in disadvantaged neighborhoods are viewed as benefiting for the local unemployed work force.

Tourist/commercial

According to Law (2002), the main reasons to invest in these areas are their perceived prestige and the opportunity to raise the city profile, their association with the perceived local quality of life and the potential to enhance tourism.

Boosters, mixing the concept of economic impact with social impact, portray the trickle down effect of a more active construction and tourism leading to the creation of new jobs as social legacies.

Investments and jobs that otherwise would have taken place over a longer period of time were compressed in the years prior to the event.

Physical/environmental

Mega-events can have a regenerative effect on the creative opportunities for the building of new sporting and recreational facilities as well as the betterment of the physical atmosphere of the host city.

Furthermore, the huge numbers of spectators and authentic persons as well as tourists connected with the event usually need the building of new roads and the improvement of the public transport network to confirm their effective transportation to the sporting venues during the event. Moreover, infrastructural growth that is not directly linked to the event often takes place, such as, recreational amenities, commercial places and outdoor spaces, which aim to boost the physical appearance of the host city or area. Also it has become increasingly popular tools for responding to the urban crisis and common for mega-sporting events to be used as a catalyst for large-scale urban improvement with substantial impact on the landscape of the host cities.

Hence, the host officials may see mega-sporting events as a chance to fund and expose long-term projects, which would differently stay in the pending file for many years. Portugal, for instance, achieved the privilege to host the 2004 European Football Championships ahead of favorite Spain even though it owned insufficient stadiums and transport facilities. Offering the tournament to Portugal was seen as a way of supporting the country’s football, overall sporting development and companies paid to sponsor tournaments, to have their names on team shirts, in stadium to greater degrees of exposure. .

The phasing of a mega-sporting event, possibly poses extra ecological problems, mainly when provisional buildings are constructed for the necessities of the event. At the Atlanta Games, for example, the temporary nature of facilities for four sporting disciplines at the Atlanta Olympic Games, which were demolished after the event due to their limited use by the local community. In this situation, the practices of disposing of such material, which cannot be recycled, fail to qualify as ecologically sustainable development.

New and renovated facilities and public spaces are the most visible legacies left by a mega-event. Often claimed as a social benefit for community use, these venues can turn into highly specialized sports facilities (Chalkley and Essex 1999) and unlikely to be used by the wider community. Some permanent facilities might even have to be torn down after the event when their low demand and costly maintenance become apparent. Public areas can be revitalized and returned to the community.

Eventually, when the infrastructure projects accelerate, other public works can be delayed or replaced. Besides, when a huge amount of state funds are channeled into one metropolitan region, this often results in insufficient infrastructure projects in suburban zones and in other regions.

After World Cup Brasil 2014, the infrastructures were abandoned and most of the space are completely broken and unsustainable for the government.  The option for such projects is generally a political one, since the cost of the often extensive event-relevant infrastructure is mainly guaranteed by local governments. That is why its really important to predict what to do after the event ends.

Social/cultural

For instance, mega-events the size of the Olympics can growth the local interest and participation in sporting activities, they can strengthen district traditions, quality of life and values, and growth local pride and community spirit. Improved sports participation can make an important contribution to the quality of life of both the individual and society. However, increased sport participation can begin to understand and comprehend the socially situated nature of their work and prepares a sense of well-being through fun and joy, guiding to self-fulfillment and prosperous, and motivates social interaction and interrelation for those who may feel socially excluded.

Mega-sporting events can be interpreted as a need to counter balance the optimist discourse also contributes to transforming the image of the host city. Moreover, organizers need to be careful to ensure that negative psychological impacts do not occur due to unusual security. The history of the elimination of prostitutes and beggars, the vagabond and protesters as well as the increment powers of police to detain suspects show the endeavors of the organizers to show a good aspect, comfortably forgetting the civil liberties issues at stake.

Current research on the nature of social impacts of mega-events tends to be fragmented and focused on cause-effect manifestation with little attention given to the broader process that resulted in the hosting of the mega-event. An extensive analysis on the academic literature of mega-events and related material produced by civil groups was provided in order to present seven lines of investigation. The points identified were: openness, accountancy and community participation; land, housing and accommodation; employment, training and business development; recreation, leisure and accessibility; transport and the urban fabric; human rights and civil liberties; and taxes and social budget. Each impact was illustrated with examples observed in past mega-events as a form to constitute a typology to assist in the research of the social impacts caused.

Applying a common recourse of urban leaders, it can be said that a mega-event is not capable to solve ‘all of society’s problems’ by itself (Lenskyj p.79). However the opportunity to engage several segments of the society, public and private sector should be better addressed to discuss the city’s most pressing problems. Host cities can only produce and benefit from lasting social legacies if they are an integral part of a long-term urban strategy that is not dependent on the mega-event for its implementation (Essex and Chakley 1998, Raco 2004).

Psychological

Investment in roads and public transport are often the largest part of the event budget. Improved and expanded underground lines, new buses, roads and the new traffic engineering linked to the renovation and construction of roads have a great distributional effect. In Barcelona railway tracks that acted as a physical barrier to the seafront were placed underground and there was an improvement in the connection between the railway that served distant parts of the province and the underground system. Although the overall analysis of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was one of mixed results, new roads, underground and suburban trains were deemed the main positive legacy for the city (A.T. Kearney 2005). The decision not to invest in urban freeways and major public transport in Atlanta seriously jeopardized its image during the 1996 Olympics (Chalkley and Essex 1999). Transportation problems and traffic congestion were widely reported.

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