News / Economy

    Rising Cost of Olympics Begs Question: Why Host?

    Rising Cost of Olympics Begs Question: Why Host?i
    X
    February 04, 2014 8:40 PM
    With the Winter Olympics beginning this week, the world’s attention is turning to Sochi. But when the athletes and tourists leave, Russia will have spent more than $50 billion to stage the games. As the costs soar, VOA’s Brian Allen explores the benefits and pitfalls of hosting an Olympics.
    Brian Allen
    With the Winter Olympics beginning this week, the world’s attention is turning to Sochi. But when the athletes and tourists leave, Russia will have spent more than $50 billion to stage the games. As the costs soar, it is worth noting the benefits and pitfalls of hosting an Olympics.

    When the Olympic flame arrives in the seaside town, all eyes will be on seven brand new facilities along the coast, and a new, world-class ski resort in the nearby mountains.

    For 17 days, the world’s best winter athletes will dazzle and inspire.

    But when the last medal has been handed out and the closing ceremony is over, Russia will be left with a monumental problem: paying off the most expensive Olympic Games in history.

    The issue of exorbitant Olympic expenses is nothing new. The 2004 Summer Games in Athens cost an estimated $11 billion, partially contributing to the country’s on-going debt crisis.

    Sochi, RussiaSochi, Russia
    x
    Sochi, Russia
    Sochi, Russia
    Spending soars

    The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, believed to have cost about $40 billion, included construction of the mammoth Beijing National Stadium - nicknamed the Bird’s Nest - which now sits mostly unused.

    Six years later, the cost to stage the Sochi Games is estimated to top $50 billion.
    Given the skyrocketing costs of the Olympics, the question is: why host?

    Bob Sweeney, who leads DC2024, a group aiming to bring the 2024 Summer games to Washington, D.C., said, “Great cities gotta do great things, and this is the greatest of great things in the sports world.”

    Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor of sport management at George Washington University, explained that hosting is about more than money.

    “For each host city and each host country, they have their own objectives - what are they looking to get out of it? So for Sochi, they wanted to build a first-class ski resort, and to let people know Sochi is part of Russia, and that it is a summer and winter destination," she said. "For London, they wanted to redevelop the East End. When New York was bidding, it was primarily to get a new stadium for the [NFL's New York] Jets and Giants [American football teams]. They knew this would be the catalyst to get it built, and there would be some funding coming in. Every country and host city has a reason for doing it, and they aren’t all the same.”

    Delpy Neirotti added that determining the actual cost of hosting an Olympics is difficult to quantify. She estimated the actual cost to put on the games is "only" about $3 billion, and includes expenses such as transportation and security.  

    “That, unto itself, is paid mostly by Olympic sponsorship and broadcast dollars. The other additional amounts that are being thrown around, that’s all civic development," she said. "Think about the four-lane highway that went up to the mountains, or the high-speed train, and the seven new venues that are in an area of Adler that never existed before. If you didn’t have to build all of that infrastructure, your Olympic budget would be very reasonable.”

    Strategic planning

    Furthermore, Delpy Neirotti said the Olympics do not necessarily have to be a huge financial burden - as long as host countries plan ahead appropriately.  

    “Often time you receive money that may have been slated for 10 years in advance, and you move that government money up," she said. "I think if you do it right, you don’t have to outlay that cash. You can secure it from sponsors, the broadcast rights, and money that is earmarked for the community at a future date.”

    She added that the onus is on the IOC to select the candidate city with the most responsible plan.

    “The International Olympic Committee needs to take a closer look on analyzing the corruption factors, the quality of life factors, and really understand that even though a country may say, 'It’s great. We can do it. We want it,' is it really good for the International Olympic Committee to burden this country with this responsibility," asked Delpy Neirotti.

    Sochi, she said, is not an example of “hosting the right way.”

    “Sochi is an outlier. It’s very rare that the International Olympic Committee gives a Winter Olympics to an area that doesn’t [already] have a ski resort,” she said.
    The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are projected to come in at $14 billion, far less than the summer games in Beijing and what Russia has spent for Sochi. Traditionally, however, these early projections increase right up until the opening ceremony.

    • Russian speed skaters train at the Adler Arena Skating Center ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov practice their routine at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • A woman poses with the Olympic rings in Olympic Park as preparations continue for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • Hidenari Kanayama of Japan completes a training run in the men's luge singles ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • Canadian short track speed skaters and brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin watch a replay of their training on an iPad at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • A Russian security forces K-9 officer patrols with his dog near the finish area of the Alpine ski course ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • Rosa village is seen from a gondola prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • Olympic workers ski through a tunnel on the way to the Alpine ski course ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • A competitor takes a jump past a giant matryoshka doll during a Snowboard Slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • U.S. snowboarder Ryan Stassel takes air off a jump during slopestyle snowboard training at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • Speed skaters from the Netherlands train at the Adler Arena Skating Center ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • Players from the Swedish women's national ice hockey team take part in a training session at the Shayba Arena in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.
    • An Olympic worker overlooks the Caucasus Mountains from the Alpine ski course ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    February 04, 2014 7:50 PM
    The staging of the Sochi Olympics is an example of absurd extravaganza, "the feast at the time of plague", the straw that broke camel's back in impoverished outdated Putin's Russia on the brink of economic and financial collapse with national currency plunging into many years' low.

    by: Bill from: Canada
    February 04, 2014 7:42 PM
    Perhaps it is time to award the Olympics to one site for two successive periods, so that the cost could be spread over two games. The other alternative would be to build a "permanent" site.

    by: ashley macisaac from: canada
    February 04, 2014 7:38 PM
    They r wonderful events..however when people.have this money to spend..why is anyone.ever starving in this world?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9093
    JPY
    USD
    104.27
    GBP
    USD
    0.7612
    CAD
    USD
    1.3233
    INR
    USD
    67.329

    Rates may not be current.