Ah, the Olympics; a time of pure wonder and excitement! The Olympics is the time to join together as a nation and become prideful and joyous in the occasion for cheering for your team and its athletes. Every city, and every country, has joined in the race to become the next host for the Olympics and with Sochi that recently ended their hosting of the Winter 2014 Olympics, and Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics; it looks like it’ll be the next big thing.
However, is hosting the Olympics all what is cracks up to be? If we take a look at the past hosting cities and countries, you would find a deficit in their costs, and not so much as a surplus. The Olympics can be awesome and grandiose, but it apparently breaks the wallet of every city it affects.
Looking at the past 10 cities that hosted either the Summer or Winter Olympics, we can dive into their government wallet, and really take a look at how much things really cost, and where it put them after the ceremonies were over and all the Gold and Bronze awards were handed out. Let’s hope the next cities to host can learn a thing or two about saving their money instead of splurging. Or, is that what the Olympics are all about?
10. Vancouver, Canada: $1.3 Billion
The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, Canada—beating the bid with South Korea and Austria. Vancouver used some dough to set up these memorable Olympics; usually estimating a price, but going over five times that amount (security price originally stood at $200 million, but later was pushed to $1 billion). The BC Place Stadium held the opening and closing sections of the ceremony, and received over $100 million in renovations—a pretty penny to the rest of Vancouver’s overall cost.
9. LilleHammer, Norway: $1.5 Billion
The 1994 Winter Olympics were hosted in the small town of LilleHammer, in Norway. This little town out won the biddings to host the Olympics that year, from the United States, Sweden, and Bulgaria. Although 1.21 million tickets were sold for the games, it still put this cute little town in a money tailspin. The over hosting of the Olympics cost Norway a little over 7.4 billion (NOK currency)—with the including prices of security, and of course, investments. LilleHammer, however, got revenue of $2.7 million after the ceremonies—so they were able to rescue some of their expenses.
8. Athens, Greece: $1.5 Billion
The 2004 Summer Olympics had returned to its birthplace: Athens, Greece. It’s theme for the Olympics hosting was: Welcome Home—a great title, for a great hosting. However, Greece was not ready to handle the overall cost and preparation of the Olympics. Since Athens got to host the Olympics, they were able to update almost everything in their city, resulting in a new airport and subway system. Athens had estimated around $1.5 billion in costs, but had not included security and construction costs, resulting in a much higher debt. The overall upkeep after the Olympics resulted in $700 million, which put Greece in a tough situation.
7. Atlanta, Georgia: $1.8 Billion
The 1996 Summer Olympics were hosted by the United States’ very own southern capital, Atlanta. Atlanta won the bid over Toronto, Athens, Australia, and Great Britain. Atlanta was the 5th American city to host the Olympics, and the 3rd to host a Summer Olympic. Atlanta had Celine Dion sing their themed song for their Olympic hosting, and generated more than 3.5 billion people to visit the capital of Georgia. Atlanta’s wallet stretched to pay for multiple fines by hosting the Olympics, resulting in an overall pay of $1.8 Billion U.S. dollars to host.
6. Salt Lake, Utah: $2 Billion
The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was one of the biggest audience holders in Winter Olympic history. Although this Olympic season held many scandals (bidding for the final city, doping, etc), Salt Lake City still put on a pretty awesome show. The Olympic Cauldron was created for these ceremonies, which held the Olympic Torch’s flame throughout the Olympics—it cost around $2 million, and was created to resemble an icicle, standing around 12 feet high. At the end of the ceremony, Salt Lake splurged a little over $2 billion in spending—nearly one dollar of every five was paid through U.S. taxpayers.
5. Turin, Italy: $4.1 Billion
The 2006 Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy and out bid Switzerland. 40 plus new construction assignments were made for the Olympics, resulting in 11 new upgrades in State roads and a new railway transportation system. The city of Turin projected an estimated amount of $4.1 billion, which was already $3 billion over their budget. Although Italy splurged a little on their Olympic bank account, they made it one to remember.
4. Sydney, Australia: $6.6 Billion
The 2000 Summer Olympics were hosted by Sydney Australia, who outbid China, Great Britain, and Germany. Although Sydney, Australia is one of the most premiere places to visit, after the Olympics, Sydney saw a tremendous decline in tourism, which impacted them greatly. Although Sydney put on a great showon during the ceremony (they had stock horses performing intricate steps that eventually resembled the Olympic Rings), it definitely make a negative impact on Sydney’s economy. Due to the huge upkeep required after the Olympics, Sydney couldn’t keep up; they eventually had to shift funds from education and health programs to cover what the Olympics left behind. Their wallet is hurting pretty bad, considering their $6.6 billion in spending.
3. Nagano, Japan EA: $9.4 Billion
The 1998 Winter Olympics were hosted by the city, Nagano, in Japan. Nagano hosted a great Olympic ceremony that year, resulting in many new architectural structures, like the “M-Wave”, that sheltered the ice rink. However, Nagano was hit hard after the Winter Olympics, and the city fell into a recession. It’s estimated that this city is still paying off its Olympic debt, and will be until 2015. Although there is no guarantee how much Nagano actually spent hosting the Olympics (The Olympic Committee Vice-Secretary General, Sumikazu Yamaguchi, ordered the documents including the accounting spending to be burned), it is estimated that Nagano spent around $9.4 billion in the Olympics, and are still paying around $20.6 million a year for upkeep.
2. Beijing, China: $15 Billion
The 2008 Summer Olympics were hosted in Beijing, China, and was the highest grossing commercialized Olympic ceremony to date, until surpassed by the 2012 Olympics. Beijing won its bidding to host the Olympics, and out bid Canada, France, Turkey, and Japan. Beijing’s quick spending equaled that to be parallel with the same negative consequences to that of Athens’s Summer Olympics. The centerpiece of the 2008 Olympics was the “Birds Nest”, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, and alone was $423 million.
1. London, United Kingdom: $15.28 Billion
The 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted in the great city of London, in the United Kingdom. London outbid France, Spain, Russia, and the United States. The games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, and showed off its main focus of their new Olympic Park. London first estimated their spending would be around $4 billion, but quickly escalated to that of $15.28 billion; quite the jump, and quite the wallet! Their breakdown of spending was strictly organized, from the highest being building and constructing, to the very volunteers that helped plan and organize.
These past 10 major cities enjoyed hosting the Olympics and, of course, it’s a great honor. However, their wallet is severely damaged by the end of the ceremonies. These cities are still paying off their spending, and are using taxpayers to help along the way. Although these ceremonies are quite luxurious and glamorous, it leaves a pretty big hole in their wallet.