Edited by Wolfgang Maennig and Andrew Zimbalist
Richard Tomlinson and Orli Bass 1 INTRODUCTION When visiting the site of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on a sunny Sunday afternoon in September 2010, at the entrance to the Olympic Green it was a surprise to find the top half of the ‘B’ was broken off and the first ‘0’ of the ‘2008’ was missing. In the Green itself were security guards, an ice-cream stand, Mickey and Minnie Mouse posing for pictures, and a person selling toy Chinese soldiers crawling forward with a rifle in one hand and a large Chinese flag in the other. One could buy tickets to enter the ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium, but the forlorn circumstances and the few people dispersed through the mall encouraged one only to leave. There were better things to do in Beijing than waste time in this dead space, located on extremely valuable land close to the city centre. Question piled upon question. Does this Olympic infrastructure represent wasted investment? What were the opportunity costs at the time of the capital investment? What are the maintenance costs? Who is paying for these costs? What are the opportunity costs of retaining the present land use rather than some higher value and revenue generating land use? Are the questions relevant in the case of China? Proceeding down this path, are these questions relevant to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)? Might it be that nowadays it is London that is the outlier – an anomaly in terms of host countries...
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