“The Olympic Games… purport to follow the traditions of an ancient athletics competition, but today it is the commercial aspect that is most apparent”*…
The study found the average cost overruns for Olympic Games to be a whopping 156% from 1968 to 2016. This means that the Rio Games were a budgeting success, at least in relative terms, by ‘only’ running 51% overbudget.
It should be noted that the study accounts only for sports-related costs, such as those relating to operations or building venues. The study excludes indirect capital costs such as upgrading transport or hotel infrastructure, since data on these costs is harder to come by, and is often unreliable. Also, some Olympic Games were omitted from the study, as they did not have available public data on the costs involved.
The good news for organizers is that cost overruns, as a percentage, are generally going down.
The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal caught everyone off guard after going 720% overbudget, and the city was saddled with debt for 30 years. Lake Placid (1980), Barcelona (1992), and Lillehammer (1994) were all grossly overbudget as well with 324%, 266%, and 277% overruns respectively.
However, recent games – with the exception of Sochi (289%) – have all been pretty good as far as Olympics go. The average cost overrun since 1998 has been just 73%.
The bad news for organizers is that costs, in general, are still going way up. Organizers are just getting slightly “better” at budgeting for them.
Here are the total costs for all games in the study – note that costs are adjusted to be in 2015 terms.
More– and enlargeable/zoomable versions of the graphics– at “Rio Games a success at ‘only’ 51% over budget.”
* Ai Weiwei
As we pass the torch, we might note that it was on this date in 1791 that the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts voted to ban the game of baseball (and other activities that had disturbed many of the townspeople).
Until about a decade ago, it was widely believed that baseball was created by Abner Doubleday (or his contemporary Alexander Cartwright) in 1846; and indeed, the “modern” game– baseball as we know it– was. But historian Jim Thorn’s discovery of the Pittsfield Bylaw, fifty-five years older, is the earliest known reference to the game.