The 2012 Summer Olympics is in full swing. Have you been keeping up with all the nail-biting events?
What we see on TV may look grand, from the extravagant Opening Ceremony to quick shots of the new Athlete’s Village and Olympic venues, but with its grandeur comes a very high price tag. London’s official Olympic budget has quickly risen from $3.8 billion to the current $14.7 billion. This total includes a $1.6 billion bill for security, updates to road and rail transport systems, and building the Olympic park, with its $850 million Olympic Stadium, $426 million Aquatics Center, and $166 million Velodrome.
Winning an Olympic bid is a great honor for a country, and the desire to throw a better event than the last country may make it seem justifiable to let the budget get out of hand. Also keep in mind that London won the bid to host the games in 2005, before the economy fell apart. However, officials argue the long-term benefits of the games. According to current analytics by the European Tour Operators Association, London’s hotels have broken a record with more than 60,000 foreign guests a night. Beijing averaged 27,000 per night. After the games, many officials, including British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott, believe the money poured into improving the city for the games will have a positive impact. The transportation system has been updated, the new housing will become affordable housing, and the stadiums will be used for future sporting events. In the past, countries have also benefited from the draw of tourists in the years after the games.
Yet, the prestige of hosting the Olympics has put several countries in debt. Barcelona in 1992 had $6 billion in debt. Montreal’s 1976 Summer Games left $1.5 billion in debt that was finally paid off in 2006. And we all know how Athens fared after the 2004 Olympics, though the crisis was not solely dependent on that.
Do you think the Olympics Games are worth the price tag?