In his Washington Post column Robert Samuelson looks at the economics of the Olympic Games:
The numbers are (as they say) eye-popping. In 1997, there were 12 cities competing for the 2004 Summer Games, which were ultimately hosted by Greece. By contrast, the bidding for the 2024 Games ended with two contenders — Paris and Los Angeles — after Boston, Toronto, Rome, Hamburg and Budapest dropped out.
The story is the same for the Winter Olympics. In 1995, there were nine candidates for the 2002 Winter Games. By 2011, there were only three for the present 2018 Games.
What has happened is no secret, writes Zimbalist in the current issue of the Milken Institute Review. To host either the Summer or Winter Games requires massive construction projects for new stadiums, dormitories and local transportation systems. But the prospective revenue from the Games doesn’t come close to covering the costs. As a result, the Games impose a permanent burden on the host country’s taxpayers.
Zimbalist roughly calculates the cost of the next Summer Olympics at $15 billion to $20 billion against prospective revenue of $4 billion to $5 billion. While costs are going up, the prestige and long-term economic benefits — in increased tourism and investment — seem to be going down.
I think that permanent homes should be sought for both the Summer and Winter Games, Greece for the former, Switzerland for the latter. Some attempt, too, should be made to restore the Games to their original meaning—international accord through sport.
The Games’s present form is a relic of fascism and the Cold War.