Vancouver Games come in on budget

VANOC claims it slashed hundreds of millions in expenses to break even


If last year’s Winter Games had you worried about a looming Olympic-sized bill to pay, rest assured that won’t be the case. VANOC CEO John Furlong confirmed on Friday the Vancouver Games had broken even in spite of the financial difficulties that came with hosting them during a dicey economic climate. “We chopped hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the project,” Furlong said, noting corporate sponsorships dried up as the economy stalled. “It was very hard on morale for the team, but we did what we had to.” In the end, the provincial and federal governments ended up contributing about $187 million to the $1.9 billion operating budget, not including the cost of building the venues, the Olympic Village, transportation projects and security, which they also covered. Government studies show the Games created 45,000 jobs and generated about $2 billion in real gross domestic product.

CBC News

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Vancouver Games come in on budget

  1. And a good time was had by all. Job well done!

    • Agreed, one for the good news side of things.

  2. VANOC CEO John Furlong is a liar! These games did not come even close to breaking even. What about the security costs?
    what about the PAID volunters? WTF…. I am not against the Games I think they were great but come on do you really think we are all that stupid?

  3. In the end, the provincial and federal governments ended up contributing about $187 million to the $1.9 billion operating budget, not including the cost of building the venues, the Olympic Village, transportation projects and security, which they also covered.


    • Yeah… but then, they didn't say it didn't cost US TAXPAYERS plenty; only that they didn't spend more money than they had budgeted as their share, or than they had raised.

    • I figure every once in awhile Canada has to take its turn at this sort of thing, and I think Vancouver did a good job overall particularly when you consider the increased security and economic disaster that surely didn't figure in the initial bid. But you are very right that the 'spin' that it didn't cost us anything is ludicrous.

      Which is why I think that the Olympic Movement has had its run. To suggest these are "amateur" athletes is, by and large, ridiculous since that originally was to mean people who do their sport in their spare time after work. These days, their sport IS their work and nobody's even pretending anymore that it isn't. I personally was uncomfortable with the focus on gold (proud when we got them, mind you) since whatever tiny spark of that Olympic "come together and play" concept was effectively extinguished. I really don't see the point of spending millions upon millions of dollars every two years so that politicians can crow to other politicians–and citizens can give the finger to other citizens.

      I do spare a moment for those athletes who have been working for the future Olympics for most of their young lives, but you know, an athlete's Olympic dream always comes to an end, anyway, even if they win multiple golds.

      • I am with you on the let's-call-the-whole-thing-off thing. But Canada didn't "have to" take its turn. For reasons that will need to be patiently explained to me, we WANTED this turn. We applied, we lobbied, we competed, and — barf — we won our turn at this sort of thing.

        • Yeah, I'm a little unclear on why cities would, not only volunteer, but essentially BID on the thing myself. I mean to say, I don't understand what is in it for anybody. There is money somewhere because you know when something doesn't make any sense, it becomes clear when you follow the money. I don't know how to do that.

          • Vancouver gets shiny new stuff. Vancouver, BC and Canada paid for the shiny new stuff. It makes PERFECT sense why cities bid. It makes no sense why provinces and Ottawa agree to pick up the tab.

          • There's plenty of sense to it – the federal government has the bankroll to not have a liquidity crisis by backstopping these things. Let's say the final cost of security and venues was ~6.8 billion$ (it's in the ballpark and makes division by 34 million easy), and let's cast all this cost to the federal level for the sake of argument. Per person that's $200. Spread over the frequency of an Olympics(~every 20 years) we host that's about $10/year/person. It's peanuts. Throw in intangibles like longterm tourism boost and hosting an Olympics really doesn't seem like a bad idea at all.

          • It's peanuts.

            …is the recurring argument in favour of spending on every little and big "good idea." You get your peanuts if I get my peanuts, and — whoopsie — we start talking about federal public debt as above or below half of our GDP, and provincial and "public bodies" debt lurking around somewhere, too.

            Buy your own peanuts, would you please?

          • But who will gather the peanuts? Let's say a particular good idea is felt to be a good idea by 1/3 of the population or so. Let's say that third of the population is willing to cover the other 2/3s share even. Who would collect these peanuts. You certainly don't want to have to collect them by massive door to door campaigns, you'd lose a large chunk of the peanuts to collection expenses. Telemarketing's even worse as even people interested would often hang up before they got to hear if it's something they might be interested in. And this doesn't even address the question of "what if what your peanuts were donated for doesn't happen? where do all those collected peanuts go to now?" Government is the right place to make these decisions. Hosting a large event periodically is good for tourism, good for keeping Canada in view on the world stage, and in the case of the Olympics, good for encouraging active lifestyles amongst Canadians. Regarding peanuts in general, it's up to the government to balance them in a way that most people are happy with what they're getting. you don't want to pay for any more olympics, i don't want to pay for any more optional joint replacements or childcare programs, someone else doesn't want to pay for an air force any longer, it might just come close to balancing out.

          • Government is the right place to make these decisions. No, it has ended up being the default place to make those decisions.

            Hosting a large event periodically is good for tourism, Then let the city halls and the chambers of commerce of Vancouver and Whistler foot the bill. The taxpayer in Winnipeg just got fleeced for those peanuts.

            good for keeping Canada in view on the world stage, which is an essential, why, exactly?

            and in the case of the Olympics, good for encouraging active lifestyles amongst Canadians. Now you're trying too hard. Getting Canadians to sit in front of the teevee for extended periods to watch other people slide around fast on ice and snow is somehow encouraging an active lifestyle? Puh-leeze.

          • Do you have a better suggestion of where to make these decisions? You still haven't addressed how exactly one goes about collecting those peanuts through private financing in an efficient manner.

            The city of Vancouver did pick up a substantial portion of the tab for the games. The kind of debt load that organising a major event incurs is difficult for a city to take on on its own. I recall Vancouver's debt rating was lowered with the burden they did take on. Can you imagine adding another 6 B$ on top? As for the fleecing, is every taxpayer in Winnipeg as outraged as you though? or do some portion of them feel it was worthwhile?

            Keeping Canada in view on the world stage is not necessarily essential, but perhaps desirable. The impressions you make on other countries can have far reaching benefits – or not. I have a difficult time defending this point ;)

            But i don't have a difficult time defending the active lifestyle point – the olympics raises the profile of many sports that usually you can't get people to give a crap about. It's an opportunity to see them in action for a couple weeks every four years and inspire people that 'hey, that looks like fun'.

          • I heard recently that Portugal wants to demolish the enormous stadia it erected for the European Football Championship it hosted in 2004 because it can't afford the maintenance cost.

            Surely there is a better way to attract tourists than by building massive monuments to leisure and recreation that must be scrubbed and shined for decades after the fortnight frolic has come and gone.

            Toronto is currently just a long-jump away from hosting the Pan-Am Games–no, you're not the only one who's never heard of them. As part of the propaganda to try to make the price-tag more palatable, Torontonians were soothed with the promise that the athlete's village would be converted to low-income housing after the event. Of course, similar assurances about the Vancouver Olympics had to be retracted when construction costs uncharacteristically outpaced their projections. Now Toronto, in an effort to keep the city's priorities decidedly off-track, is pinning the price of its Pan-Am pool onto the students at U of T. Analysts say that although it is unfair to make kids pay for a pool they will never use, it is an encouraging sign to see students in Toronto, for once, learning a lesson.

          • Well there are any number of other good universities out there. If the students of the U of T truly are outraged at the cost being foisted onto them by a university that has other options to pay for a new pool (which sounds a pretty reasonable position), they can enroll elsewhere. This is difficult for current students, but an easy option for future ones, which is when the full levy kicks in. It's not the city that's pinning the cost on the students, it's the university. And the students are free to decide whether the benefits the U of T offers are worth forking over an extra couple hundred in tuition each semester for a pool they will probably never use.

          • And who, pray tell, pinned the costs on the university?

          • While i haven't followed it closely, i would assume the university had to say 'yes, we'd like to be responsible for this swimming pool after the games and will put 30 M$ towards the construction costs and pay to operate it after the games are over'.

          • Toronto should learn how to dream big. Why Pan-Am? If you have to spend money, you might as well spend it on something which gets more attention and return. But then Toronto can't handle the international biggie, remember G20? If you can't handle that, how much more Pan-Am, not to mention the Big O. Pray for the maturity of your retarded anarchists, or wish that those who will stop them from rampaging (ordinary concerned citizens) are way ready, instead of being indifferent just waiting for the police to do their job. Also, kindly wait until we have a breather before you bid for one? I hope I am not inciting an earful which may burst my already damaged eardrum

          • Why Pan-Am?

            Because Toronto already lost two bids to host the Olympics, and two other bids to host the Commonwealth Games. In the words of former Ontario premier, and former member of Toronto's Olympics bid committee, and chairman of Toronto's Pam American Games bid, and current Chancellor of the University of Toronto, David Peterson, "we had to win one" and we had to shed our "loser mentality".

          • I don't think Toronto is ready to bid for anything, it has losts its balls and oommph. It is only good in protesting and whining. You might as well save all that money and wait for the right time and right attitude.

          • Save?!

            Surely there is somewhere a public-sector benefit package with room for more largesse.

          • Hey Justin:

            "Analysts say that although it is unfair to make kids pay for a pool they will never use, it is an encouraging sign to see students in Toronto, for once, learning a lesson."

            For once? Back in the 80's, in my small region of Ontario, a college and a uni both did major rec-centre improvements, and dinged students with an annual fee for 5 or 6 years. We heard the same thing back then, too. In the end, everybody sucked it up, and survived.

            But hey, they'll probably pull the Pan Am games anyway, because the new mayor is trying to kill the transit line that was supposed to whisk athletes to the very place we speak of.

          • Let's hope so.

            Do you think a two-week event justifies a major construction project like a transit line?

            Would you build an addition onto your house because your in-laws are coming for a weekend?

          • The Transit Line plan just made it a wise decision to put the pool there, not the other way around. So your "house addition" example is off the table.
            My apologies if i implies the transit was being built to serve the pool.

            Instead, we're going to build subways. Sometime in the next 20 years.

          • Good. So you agree that the Pan Am Games should conform to Toronto and not vice-versa?

          • I'd prefer they confirm to standards somewhere else, frankly. Probably 95% of people here don't even know what it is we won the right to host…

            But I'm fine with building pools, tracks and the like. This city is actually pretty short or rec facilities, especially once you get out of the downtown. If the only way we're ever going to spend the money to do this is to host the world's B-Team athletes, then so be it.

          • Maybe the city could build a half dozen community pools to, you know, encourage an active lifestyle among its residents, rather than one single Olympic-sized behemoth? Just sayin'.

          • In an ideal world, sure. But with the new mayor, notring new that costs money is going to happen for a few years.


          • Which, somehow, brings us back to the Pan Am Games…

          • Yeah, so maybe there's hope. He likes to save money, but doesn't mind throwing away 138 million already spent on the transit plan. Maybe he'll axe the Spam-am games too. But only if the money'a already spent.

          • Surely you're not arguing that millions and millions already spent therefore require spending millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions more? In all cases?

            You would, I hope, allow that "throwing good money after bad" might sometimes be a useful phrase?

  4. Breaking even is so rare in Canada that when it does occur it is front page news.

    • Well, I saved a ton on money last month, unless you include food, housing and heat..

      If you figure all that stuff in, I broke even. See how bad the math looks for this?

  5. Welcome to the usual unofficial Olympic event: sleight-of-hand accounting. An Olympics can no more report a deficit than a man can have a baby.

    • "and in the distance, another small peice of concrete slaps against the empty floor of the Big O.

      And nobody is there to notice.

  6. I agree it is so expensive, but other than security expense (We were all glad no one was taken hostage, dead – just like Munich, or heinously bombed), most of the big expenses are capital expenditures – which are still there even after the Olympics. By the by, none got pickpocketed even when it was literally packed like sardines in the street. Back to capital costs, in business, no one in his/her right mind expect to recoup capital costs in two weeks (life of the olympics) or a year not even two or five. As for Vancouver's Olympic athletes village, the problem lies on the hard headedness and visionless outlook of the current Mayor Robertson and his party – ironically belonged to a party named "Vision". How would one like to buy a Condo not knowing that when big repairs or maintenance comes up, who will be paying for the portion of those units that are allocated as social housing? Will the city hall pay for their portion (Duh! – it will take forever and a lot of headaches, if they even pay), or are the people who owns the 'none' social housing portions swallow all the expenses? It has never been between rich and poor. Most of the buyers who backed out from the deal were just like you and me, who works hard to earn a living the hard way. Unfortunately, the mayor and his ilks use that to drive a societal wedge instead of admitting his or their short sightedness. They could have sold all the units as is, then develop a social housing area somewhere for way a lot cheaper. That way they could house more people in need instead of tokens, and ending up losing a lot more. As for the rest of the country, BC has been a contributor to the have not provinces and the country as a whole. When you look at the past, how much BC receive back federally (so little compared to the rest of the provinces) do you really grudge us the Olympics? We have never received equalization payments, but If you are so put off with what we received, by way of Olympics, you are very welcome to visit and enjoy those facilities – and so much more – with us. After all, BC is for all of Canada. Welcome to Beautiful British Columbia where everywhere and everytime is a "high".

    • thank you for the kind invitation to visit , but please lets have a small reality check. Most Canadians cannot afford to go there and visit. Thanks anyway

      • There are many campgrounds around, just bring your tent and yourself in. If you stay in the suburbs, the hotels are still reasonable. Even in cities, the hotels are priced just as in Toronto, one can even find good deal if they contact the hotel directly with no intermidiary. From or to the airport, one does not need taxis as there is a skytrain that connects it to the neigboring cities. You can actually use one bus ticket for transfer, as long as it is within two hours, on skytrain, or sea buses. Our food is actually very reasonably priced, and if you know where to dine, it is actually cheap. It is only expensive when you move here, as the rent and the price of houses are sky high. As for travelling in shoe string it is actually quite affordable and possible. All the facilities that has been built for the Olympics have been in full operating use.

    • The largest expenditure by far was security. Full stop. It was something north of 1 billion dollars. That money is gone with nothing to show for it. Capital costs were out of control which were made even worse as much of it was financed though dodgy hedge funds that went belly up and the taxpayer had to step in a foot the bill. Oh and by the way, excuse us if we don't take you up on staying in a sopping tent so we can admire what's left of the Olympic Village. The games were a nice diversion for a couple of weeks but please don't try to tell people it was a break even deal. Cheers.

  7. The security costs are mostly accounting entries since we as taxpayers are already paying the salaries of al the police and military on site. The military would be off playing war games somewhere at our expense if they were not at the Olympics so even their expenses are largely non existent.
    All in all it was a good deal for B.C. and we will reap benefits for decades to come.

    • You're forgetting the thousands of private security officers hired and brought in.
      Also, didn't the athlete housing project just go into bankruptcy?

    • Keep the rose colored glasses on if you wish. The largest expenditure was security. Thousands of police, RCMP, military were moved to BC, some staying for months. These people were all payed overtime. In the case of Quebec RCMP, they demanded and got four star hotel rooms. A Canadian warship was tied up for over a year with a full compliment of sailors on security detail. Security which was supposed to cost a few mill morphed into 1 billion. Also when you pull half the cops from other detachments those remaining are also pulling huge overtime. My brother, a former RCMP officer was in charge of a small part of a G7 meeting years ago. They had to rent 6 cars for over a year to compliment what they had on hand. In fact I doubt we will ever know what the final bill was. The way you toss out the words "accounting entry" I suspect you must work for government.

  8. I would rather have that money spent in olympics with all the infrastructures, goodwill, and intangibles we got from it, than having those money spent on wars somewhere far away – where we only get dead and wounded soldiers back. The Olympic cost is peanut compared to how much we so far spent in Afghanistan.

    • "than having those money spent on wars somewhere far away "

      Sadly, you don't get to choose one or the other. You get both.

      • If we are always afraid of failing, no steps will be taken and nothing will be gained.

  9. Wow. With Justin in the bullpen, I figure I only need to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, then invite the manager to come to the mound to yank me. Well done, sir.

    • Thank you, sir.

      But I'm afraid I'd be a mere superfluity in the bullpen behind a man who so consistently throws perfect strikes.