International Handbook on the Economics of Mega Sporting Events
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International Handbook on the Economics of Mega Sporting Events

Edited by Wolfgang Maennig and Andrew Zimbalist

From the Olympics to the World Cup, mega sporting events are a source of enjoyment for tens of thousands of people, but can also be a source of intense debate and controversy. This insightful Handbook addresses a number of central questions, including: How are host cities selected and under what economic conditions? How are these events organized, and how is local resistance overcome? Based on historical and empirical experience, what are the pitfalls for the organizers of these events? What are the potential economic benefits, including any international image effects? How can the costs be minimized and the benefits maximized for host cities and countries? How do these mega events impact the challenges of globalization and what is their environmental legacy?
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Chapter 13: Explaining and Forecasting National Team Medals Totals at the Summer Olympic Games

David Forrest, Adams Ceballos, Ramón Flores, Ian G. McHale, Ismael Sanz and J.D. Tena


David Forrest, Adams Ceballos, Ramón Flores, Ian G. McHale, Ismael Sanz and J.D. Tena 1 INTRODUCTION At the start of each Olympic Games it has become something of a sport in itself for economists to issue forecasts of how many medals each country will win. Among authors referenced below who have employed their academic work to produce public forecasts have been Andreff and Andreff, Bernard and Busse, Johnson and Ali, Maennig and Wellbroch, and Forrest et al. Each of these research groupings has succeeded in generating significant media attention, a reflection that, while the Olympic Charter might insist that competition is among individual athletes, in practice national medals totals are the focus of considerable interest and strong prestige is perceived to attach to countries that finish well. Indeed, during the Cold War, which country secured the more medals appeared to be one of the major fronts on which America and Russia fought for global reputational supremacy. Now, forecasts may be fun; but, aside from providing benchmarks for the ex post assessment of performance, they appear to offer little social utility since real outcomes are known soon enough in any case. Their real significance is therefore that they provide unusually public out-of-sample testing of underlying models which employ data from previous Games to try to further understanding of how medals totals are determined. Ideally, understanding the reasons behind the distribution of medals would yield implications for policy, both at the level of the individual country and globally (for the International...

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