Thursday, November 25, 2010

China to Close Asian Games After Spending More Money Than London Olympics

Gz2010Image via Wikipedia
Guangzhou, capital of China’s largest provincial economy, closes the Asian Games tomorrow after a spending spree that eclipses the budget for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The two-week-long competition triggered spending of 122 billion yuan ($18.3 billion) on projects including stadiums, roads and subway lines. That compares with the 9.3 billion-pound ($14.7 billion) budget set in March 2007 for the London Games. The Guangzhou city’s expenditure was equal to 13 percent of its gross domestic product last year.
Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai are among Chinese cities vying to host international events that may help raise their international profiles and accelerate economic development. Guangdong’s council for promoting international trade has expressed interest in hosting a World Expo, which spurred $44 billion of investment in Shanghai when it was held from May to October.
“These events usually result in short-term losses for their hosts,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong. “But the impact on a city’s image is huge, and the investments will bring infrastructure improvements that will boost future growth.”
Beijing Olympics
The competition is the largest sporting event to be held in the capital of the southern province of Guangdong and the biggest of the 16 Asian games held every four years since 1951.
China’s economy has expanded almost 20 times since 1990, when Beijing hosted the 11th Asian Games, the first major international sporting event held in the nation. The country spent $70 billion on the 2008 Olympic Games in the capital, six times the previous record set by Athens in 2004.
Shanghai allocated 28.6 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) for building and operating the World Expo, and 270 billion yuan for new infrastructure, including two airport terminals and a three- year renovation of the Bund waterfront area.
Guangzhou also built a games village with an area of 2.73 square kilometers (1.06 square miles) and the 610-meter (2,001- foot) Canton Tower, which officials claim is the world’s tallest television tower.
‘World City Status’
The Guangzhou games are expected to attract 650,000 domestic and foreign visitors and spur 800 billion yuan in tourism spending, the official China Daily newspaper reported Nov. 23.
Guangzhou took actions to ensure the venues don’t become “white elephants” when the games are over, China Daily reported Nov. 7, citing a city official. The games village will become a residential community, and a dragonboat venue 74 kilometers (46 miles) from downtown Guangzhou will become a public park, the report said.
“After the Asian Games, Guangzhou’s moving toward world city status,” said Li Yongning, a professor of economics and sociology at the Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies in Guangzhou. “The investment for the games helped internationalize and modernize this city.”
Better infrastructure enhances the city’s competitiveness and helps attract foreign and domestic investments, he said in a telephone interview.
Hong Kong Bid
Beijing is searching for new ways to utilize facilities built for the 2008 Olympics. At the Water Cube, where U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals, visitors slumped from 100,000 daily in the months after the Games to “just thousands,” prompting a nine-month renovation to convert it into a water park, China Daily reported Feb. 2 and Aug. 15.
At a 4.4 square-mile area known as the Olympic Green, floor tiles are broken and wall tiles are falling off some public toilets, the newspaper reported Aug. 19.
Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, will host the Youth Olympic Games in 2014. Hong Kong, which is bidding for the rights to hold the Asian Games in 2023, plans to spend HK$44.5 billion ($5.7 billion) on the 16-day event.
Not all Chinese cities with ambitions to host global events have been successful. The nation’s sports authorities rejected an application by the northeastern city of Harbin to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, the city’s third attempt at the Games, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Feb. 24.
The city lacked the infrastructure and enough fans of winter sports, it said.

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