Before any Olympic Game, the media revel in doomsday prophecies that never materialize. Today, the day before the opening of the Rio games, we did a fact-based analysis of whether these Olympics will be troubled. We conclude they will be a success.
Cities, not countries, organize Olympic Games. We thus quantified the cities’ hosting ability from 1948 till 2016. Rio is at the lower end of the spectrum, but not glaringly so.
We define hosting ability as a function of:
- Organizational skills
- Economic power
Organizational skills is quantified as the GDP/capita in the city since it has been shown that high affluence is strongly correlated with work being carried out in a structured and well-planned manner.
Economic power is quantified as the total city GDP since those are the resources at hand to improve infrastructure (public transport, stadiums, living quarters). (Sometimes central government adds to this resource.)
Below is a graph showing the results. We made each city’s bubble proportional to the number of athletes since the size of the games affects the complexity of hosting them.
We conclude that Rio is fairly well positioned. The city has the economic power, even with the current recession. The organizational skills are at the low end, but above Seoul which successfully hosted the games in 1988.
While latter year games all have been hosted in cities with higher organizational skills, there is also a learning curve within the IOC that should partially offset this.
We conclude that the games will be a success, but may suffer on the margin from poor organization.