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A look at spending on recent Winter Olympics

October 2, 2014

Why are so many cities saying no to the Winter Olympics?

It’s all about the money.

The $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, has scared everyone off.

Concerned that the Olympics would be a financial burden, the Norwegian government pulled the plug Wednesday on Oslo’s bid for the 2022 Winter Games.

Three other cities had already withdrawn — Stockholm; Krakow, Poland; and Lviv, Ukraine.

Munich and St. Moritz stayed out of the race after voters in Germany and Switzerland rejected proposed bids in referendums.

Only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, are left in the race. China and Kazakhstan are both economically strong and run by authoritarian governments.

There is no official or definitive cost comparison between games. Spending on venues, infrastructure, capital investments and operating costs are all counted separately or in different ways.

Some are considered direct Olympic costs, others as indirect.

An organizing committee’s private operating budget — met by television and sponsorship revenues, ticket sales, merchandising and other sources — can be a fraction of the public spending on facilities and urban projects.

A look at some of the spending from recent Winter Games:


SOCHI 2014

The first Winter Games in Russia broke records for all Olympics, winter or summer, although the precise figures are hard to know.

Sochi built virtually all Olympic venues from scratch in a bid to turn a decaying Soviet era resort into a winter sports center and year-round tourist destination.

The $51 billion figure includes long-term infrastructure projects, such as roads, railways, hotels and tunnels. The exact breakdown is not known, amid reports of cost overruns and corruption. The original cost of building venues had been estimated at about $12 billion.

The local organizing committee’s operating budget — the cost of running the games themselves — was around $2 billion. Russian organizers said in June the games posted a provisional surplus of $261 million. The government had provided organizers with $420 million in subsidies.



The official organizing budget was about $2 billion. Total costs were put at around $6 billion, including expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler. Organizers said they broke even on their operating budget.

Vancouver’s biggest problem centered on a project to turn the athletes village into a downtown waterfront neighborhood. Hit by the 2008 global financial downturn, the city only sold the final units this year and never banked the $100m profit it had expected.


TURIN 2006

The operating budget was $1.4 billion, and organizers reported a final shortfall of $32 million. Overall spending, including construction, was estimated at around $3.6 billion. The $100 million luge and bobsled track built for the Turin Games was dismantled this year because of high operating costs.



The organizers had an operations budget of $1.3 billion and reported a surplus of about $100 million. The U.S. government spent about $600 million helping the local body. An additional $1.1 billion was earmarked for roads, bridges and infrastructure improvements.



The full costs have never been confirmed, though overall spending was estimated at around $10 billion.

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