Making the Homeless disappear at the World Cup
The issue of how much an international sporting event will benefit the host city and country is a familiar one to Vancouver, after our recent encounter with the Olympics. Many of the same issues are being raised in South Africa around the World Cup. I had hoped that the South African authorities would resist the temptation to hide poverty and homelessness in South Africa during the World Cup. While as far as one can tell from afar the World Cup is being welcomed with enthusiasm in South Africa there are serious doubts about whether it will bring long term benefits to match the costs associated with bringing the event to the country. Realistic assessments of the cost vs benefit of international sporting events on the countries where they're held have shown they seldom live up to the promises which are made when the events are first awarded. They also often have the unfortunate side effect that in addition to being net negatives to the countries economy, the authorities in a desperate attempt to take advantage of the public relations opportunities "beautify" the country by sweeping the poor and homeless off the streets. It seems the tournament is popular, but it remains an important question for South Africa, as it is still for us in Vancouver, whether the event brings any lasting benefit.