A history of Olympic-sized expenses - Macleans.ca

A history of Olympic-sized expenses

How does sports-related spending compare from 1968 to present?


I wanted to write a quick post comparing the staggering cost of the Sochi Olympics (approximately $46 billion!) to previous Olympic games. It turns out, however, that finding accurate data on Olympic spending could be an Olympic sport in itself. Many of the numbers often reported are vague and incomparable.

You may have read about the sky-high spending at Sochi – but how much of it is actually directly related to the Olympics? And how does that compare to previous events?

In the graphic below, an interesting Oxford paper about overspending at the Games provided the data for sports-related costs from Grenoble 1968 to London 2012 (this includes operational and venue costs, including the Olympic village, sports arenas, security, and the media and press centres). As for determining only the sports-related costs for Sochi, I tallied the spending directly associated with Olympic projects (no roads, hotels, rail lines, etc.) from the recently launched interactive website of Russian activist Alexei Navalny who has been tracking the costs and corruption associated with Sochi — through his own research, newspaper reports and other activists’ analysis. I arrived at approximately $10 billion.

What do you think of comparing only the sports-related costs? Is it more fair (though more inconsistent) to compare the surrounding infrastructure spending as well?

Sochi Olympic Spending


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