Olympics and World Cup: The Cost of Sports and the Mistreatment of Millions

Erick Fernandez@erickgfonsportsCorrespondent IIOctober 4, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  The Olympic Stadium is illuminated during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on July 28, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th  Olympiad. London plays host to the 2012 Olympic Games which will see 26 sports contested by 10,500 athletes over 17 days of competition.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Olympics and the World Cup are two grand sporting events that bring many countries together—don't tell that to millions of people who have been (and will be) mistreated/displaced as a result of their country's preparations.

Brazil (host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics), Russia (host of the 2018 World Cup), Japan (host of the 2020 Olympics) and Qatar (host of the 2022 Olympics): You guys are in big trouble.

Karl Marx once said that religion was the "opiate of the masses"; well it appears as if sports has taken its place in recent history. The worldwide fascination and obsession with sports and sporting events in recent history has been well-documented. 

What initially served as an escape from societal problems throughout the world has become the source of problems for millions of people throughout the world. 

Countries have realized that sports have become a revenue-inducing industry (for them), so they seek to reap the profits of having a major sporting event or team in their city/country.

Numerous instances of sports-induced gentrification have been prevalent inside the United States. In New York alone it happened in Brooklyn, and it is in the process of happening in Flushing, Queens. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be displaced from their homes or jobs to create an "appropriate" venue for and around sporting stadiums and arenas.

The larger-scale gentrification, though, is happening internationally in preparation for the aforementioned events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. The injustices in Brazil were brought to the public eye this past summer.

News was made in Brazil during the Confederations Cup as there were mass protests in response to the potential displacement of about 170,000 people along with the continuous economic struggles the country is facing. 

Despite the economic struggles, Brazil will still have to pay the cost of £9 billion, which is equivalent to about $14.5 billion, for the World Cup preparation alone. That's $14.5 billion reasons to be irate about the World Cup coming to their country.

If large-scale displacement and economic injustices weren't bad enough, let's try slavery on for size. In a recent article by the UK's The Guardian, the newspaper exposes potential slave-like conditions happening in Qatar. According to the report, Nepalese migrant workers who are working on the construction of the stadiums are not being financially compensated and, in some cases, are physically exerted until extreme exhaustion and death.

It's more of the same with the preparation for the Olympics. About 1.5 million Chinese citizens were displaced because of the 2008 Olympics, and more than two million people have been displaced from 1988 to 2008.

Even with all the large-scale displacement and the whole process involved with acquiring rights to the Olympics and getting the infrastructure built, there have been only two Olympic games, according to The Atlantic, that have generated profit: the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, which were both held in Los Angeles.

In spite of the potential financial burden it can have on the city and its people, countries' governments continue to pursue the rights to host the Olympics and the World Cup—for what reason is beyond me.

Who is profiting here? Who is benefiting? The citizens sure aren't.

But hey, it's all for the love of sport, I guess.