Aug 22, 2016
Some Oxford University economists looked into the real costs of the Olympic Games since 1960. The tendency is for costs to explode. In the last decade they reached on average 8.9 billion dollars, without counting the work of infrastructure, highways, stations, airports and hotels.
The study also shows that all the big projects go way over budget, with the final cost being on average two-and-a-half times higher than originally estimated. The Montreal Games cost eight times more than budgeted, Barcelona Games three-and-a-half times higher, those of the winter games in Lake Placid and Sochi almost four times higher. Next to these, the Rio Games, which for the moment are only 50% over budget, almost look good.
And that doesn’t include the economic consequences for the populations of the cities pushed by sponsors. The hotels of Sochi are deserted today, the Olympic Park of London is a “mausoleum of public money,” and the Olympic Games almost put Athens in bankruptcy. The study underlines that for a city or country, deciding to organize the Olympic Games means choosing the most costly and most risky financial projects that exist.
These facts are known, but that doesn’t prevent U.S. politicians from fighting to host the Olympics. From Mayor Daley of Chicago pushing against Rio to get these 2016 games, to Los Angeles politicians trying to win the 2024 Olympics, U.S. cities are always in the running. As everywhere else, it’s all so the politicians can funnel wealth to construction companies, insurance companies, clothing and sports equipment companies, tourism, TV channels, advertising, and of course the vendors of red, white and blue trinkets.
No matter what city wins, all will be paid for by the population, without it being consulted on the decision.