Joshua Keating over at FPBlog has a blurb which mentions some studies on the economic benefits (or lack thereof) of hosting the Olympics. I have to feel that this misses the point, however. Perhaps China and Brazil really did host the Olympics because they expected it to be economically beneficial overall (I doubt it, but maybe so). But when the USA tries to host the Olympics (or the winter games, or the world cup, or just about any major sporting event you care to name) I get the sense it’s really being driven by a combination of fans seeking convenience, locals seeking prestige, sports federations seeking to raise awareness and interest, and various specific industries and businesses such as local caterers and construction companies looking for profits.
It is absurdly unrealistic to view an application to host these sorts of sports events as a result of monolithic state coolly completing economic cost-benefit analyses; it’s a much more realistic picture to see it as a result of advocacy groups arranging for their neighbors to foot the bill for something those groups want.