Research Weekly - The Cost of the Olympic Games
Last week, Zions Bank reported the findings of an Oxford University study outlining spending trends at recent Olympic Games. The study indicated all Olympic Games over the past 30 years have cost at least $1 billion, an expense that may be financed by a combination of taxpayer money, government funding, and private contributions. The most expensive Olympics to date were the 2014 Winter Games hosted in Sochi, Russia, and cost a staggering $22 billion. Comparatively, the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games cost a mere $2.3 billion.
Of perhaps equal interest is the percent for which each of the Olympic Games exceeded budget. Over the past 40 years, most cities have surpassed their Olympic budgets by 50% or more; however, several host cities have been able to keep a tighter rein on their spending including Salt Lake City, Vancouver, and Beijing, which had cost overruns of 24%, 13%, and 2% respectively. The most astounding overspending was Montreal’s 1976 Summer Olympics which went over budget by a shocking 720%.
Hosting the Olympic Games may be viewed as a challenge due to the massive costs involved, however, the benefits can be understated as not all are immediately or directly visible. Once the excitement of the Games has passed, host cities have the opportunity to reap economic payoffs from outcomes such as revitalized cities, improved infrastructure, and repurposed venues. In addition, for Salt Lake City, the Olympics were just one more way to put our state on the map and attract both visitors and businesses to our doorstep.