In this edition of the Bleachers report, we look at the cost of staging an Olympic Games.
Since the staging of the first Olympic Games in 1896, the event has changed dramatically. 241 male athletes from 14 countries took part in the first games in Athens, Greece, a far marker from the diverse field of more than 11-thousand which now grace the stage in 28 different sports, divided into 306 events, and 41 disciplines.
This dramatic growth in size has now created a debate as to whether hosting the Olympics is an economic gamble worth taking. And should the games now be offered to selected cities in selected countries?
This is certainly an option worth exploring as even cities with strong economic muscles have struggled to carry the weight of hosting the games. According to researchers, host cities often fork out roughly 50 to 100 million U.S. Dollars just for the bidding process, without even breaking ground for the necessary construction.
Taxpayers in Tokyo are now feeling the effects of a failed 150 million bid for the 2016 games, along with the 75 million to secure the 2020 edition. This cost is now projected to over-run by billions after it was pushed back by a year due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
This economic reality has intimidated even those who once entered bidding wars to compete for the attention of the world.
The 2024 and 2028 games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles respectively after Budapest, Hamburg and Rome were all scared away by the cost of having the world at its feet for a few weeks.
In 1976, protesters in Denver, Colorado, forced the city to reject the winter games after they won the bid. City officials would later admit it was the right move as the cost would have outweighed the benefits. To this day, Denver remains the only city to have rejected games after it was awarded.
However, they might not be alone for long. More than a year ago, Oslo – Norway, and Stockholm -Sweden, withdrew their bids to host the 2022 winter games due to concerns of rising costs. The event has since been awarded to Beijing, China, which is still counting the cost of hosting the 2008 Olympics.