Commonwealth Games: can Africa afford the games?

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The Commonwealth Games Federation recently awarded the hosting of the 2022 Games to Durban, South Africa. This will be the first time the Games are hosted in the African continent. The paper looks into whether tangible benefits for hosting mega-events are less or more important than intangible benefits. In investigating this issue, the paper takes a political geography theoretical stance for its ability to provide normative ideological content for explaining intangible and tangible values for hosting Commonwealth Games. The paper looks at pros and cons for investing in mega-event infrastructure and also looks at the cost of hosting the Games for cities. The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi budgeted $240 million for the entire Games, but the actual costs after the Games were found to be $1.7 billion. Similarly, in 2014 Glasgow, the cost of the Games was calculated at £575 million ($690 million). The paper looks at whether South Africa as the 2022 Commonwealth Games host can afford the games. It also considers the impact of the Games on national identity, national pride and patriotism here identified as novelty values that preserve social cohesion, a social attribute that has to be in place to build a robust economy. The paper concludes by noting that the success of the Games will depend on deliberate investment in catalytic facilities in areas that will be sustained post event. The amount of novelty value generated out of the Commonwealth Games will depend on how successful the Games are and on how the communities are able to interact with the facilities post event.

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    • Table 1. The history of Commonwealth Games
    • Table 2. Categories of sporting events