Economic incentives to hold the Olympics?

I’m curious as to how much money the host country can expect to get as a result of the Olympics being in town. I presume that the networks form around the world are paying the IOC rather than the host country. There is, of course, the tourists that will come to watch as a result of this, giving that boost to the local economy, but do the games themselves provide any revenue?

As a survivor of the 96 games in Atlanta, I can offer a little insight. The fact that the WHOLE FRICKIN’ WORLD is gonna drop in for a few weeks is a great incentive to spruce the place up a bit. We planted beautiful pear trees along a desolate stretch of wasteland in anticipation of the international visitors. (For ATL residents: The stretch of Williams St along the interstate between 10th and 14th).

The Olympic Village is now dormitories for Georgia State University, located downtown. Very nice (but sinking, by most accounts).

Traffic was a breeze the whole time - major companies shifted their schedules for the duration, and NO ONE brought a car with them.

Our most tangible and visible asset from those games: Turner Field. We built a NEW baseball stadium in the parking lot of the old one, held events in both, and then tore down the old one. The new one was bigger and called Olympic Stadium at the time…

A VERY nice natatorium at GA Tech.

The hype of the games played havoc on the rental situation for a short time, but everything leveled out again afterwards.

It was a really good thing (our mascot, IZZY, notwithstanding). It is a catalyst and an incentive to put on a really hospitable and accommodating face and to genuinely improve the area. Also, you get to see all those cool athletic contests and trade your little pins. Now we have Centennial Park. We used to have condemned warehouses there. I prefer the pretty fountains and public concerts on the weekends.

Bottom line on your OP: You can’t put a dollar amount on it. There is no way to quantify it, but I’ll hope some other Atlanta folks (or Sydney folks, or LA folks, or Mexico City folks, or Lillehammer folks) drop in to explain the the enormous tidal lift that comes with this influx of happy outsiders.

It was a good thing. I’m envious of Cartooniverse (who filmed the thing) since I was slaving away in Midtown printing the daily journal while he shot it.

I think this question is a bit too hard to explain. There are too many variables.

The 1984 Olympics in LA turned a big profit. The LAOOC (Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee) didn’t have to build many venues from scratch. The only venue that had to be built was the velodrome.

All the other venues were just renovated or otherwise spruced up. There was corporate sponsorship up the wazoo. And tickets sold like crazy.

Ask the people of Montreal what the economic benefits were…

I read an article (in The Wall Street Journal?) that mentioned one of the errors made by Greece was not taking advantage of licensing the Olympic rings for merchandise until a short time (months?) before the games. Salt Lake City and Sydney had the licensing agreement years in advance to capitalize on the merchandizing opportunity.

The research I’ve done indicates that hosting the Olympics, especially the winter games, is an incredible money loser for your city’s economy. But getting actual figures is difficult because all the financial books get burned. At my previous job, I spent 6 months trying to get solid financial figures for Nagano and Salt Lake city with no luck.

To start with, ever since Atlanta, the IOC insists that the games be hosted by a private corporation that is backed with public (government) funding in case of debt. But unlike most public companies, the Olympic hosting corporations never have to reveal how much they spend, how much debt they accumulated, or how much government money was squandered. Even an FOI request gets shot down because the Organizing Committees are exempt.

When you include how much public money gets spent on infrastructure improvements (highways, stadia, etc), it’s almost impossible to quantify how much is spent on the games.

Now while many people may come to your region for the actual games themselves (definitely not guaranteed as you can see in Athens) the number of tourists drops to a trickle for a year before and after the games. It gets so bad that hotels in Vancouver and Whistler (hosting the 2010 games) have forced the Vancouver Organizing Committee to sign a multi-million dollar agreement guaranteeing they will get the same income for 2010 as for any other year. Yeah, people want to see the games-- but hosting the Olympics scares away people who might otherwise have visited 2 months before the games start, 'cuz they don’t want to be stuck in construction.

During the games themselves, your host city’s economy shuts down for every company that is not an official Olympic sponsor. Want to go to the Burger King across the steet from an Olympic venue? Or your local shoe store? You’ll have a tough time finding it, because they will be legally forced to paper over their signs during the Olympics. Not to mention that almost every company in your city will find it impossible to conduct any business, since employees will have great difficulty just getting to work.

So in a nutshell, the only way a host city/region gets anything out of the games is if it can convince some other level of government to pay for venues, roads, trains, etc… that it wasn’t already going to get.

Everything I’ve heard indicates that Greece is losing a ton of money hosting these Olympics. They spent billions to get their country ready, and they’ll probably only make a small fraction of that money back in increased tourism and things like that.

I don’t have a site unfortunately but every time I pick up a copy of * The Economist * I read an article that lambasts the London bid for hosting the Olympics in 2012.

Given that it is difficult to disagree with the point that a host city does not make money from the direct revenues (eg ticket sales etc), the main justification for hosting the Olympics is that it has strong long term effects on a given city in terms of raising its international profile (tourism), improving infrastructure/sporting facilities etc.

  • The Economist * argues that it does not make any sense for a city with a profile such as London to host the Games and that it only has long term positive effects on, for example, less well known places like Barcelona (which, it is generally agreed, has been boosted enormously by hosting the Games).

The magazine also argues that the cost of improving London’s infrastructure to a state that would allow a smooth Olympics would be so astronomical that it could never be justified. Whilst it may be difficult to persuade a London commuter of this point, I generally like the magazine’s perspective on issues like these.

Of course, it would not make any political sense to oppose the hosting of the Olympics. One might even speculate that Tony Blair’s support of the Olympic bid for London is done in spite of his knowledge that it will provide absolutely no value add to the city whatsoever in the long run and, at the same time, incur huge costs. It won’t be his problem at that stage and there can be few things more likely to spike an election than a politician who is branded ‘anti-sport’.

Slight nitpick: The LAOOC had to build two venues from scratch: The velodrome and the swim stadium.


So essentially, what one makes in Olympic travel is immediately withdrawn in the form of other tourists not going, local businesses not producing and lots of additional infrastructure that will likely be unused afterwards to maintain?


Yep. Hosting the Olympics is a true White Elephant: an “honor” that is actually a hardship, and which cannot be gracefully declined.

I don’t know if you have cable TV (or if you read my earlier post), but I’m pretty sure you can easily verify that the new stadium is being used quite frequently in its new incarnation as our Atlanta Braves baseball park (Turner Field) and the Olympic Village is being used as new dorms for GA State. Check out Centennial Park and see what a nice venue that is now. As posted before, beautiful fountains and free concerts.

NOT unused. Very much appreciated.

As noted by others in this thread (and me), not quantifiable - It’s a great honor and a chance to spruce up. My company made a good deal of money on the thing, but my own rent went up to a ridiculous amount because the landlords hoped to make a killing on the tourists. Trade-off? They renovated the kitchen and bathroom in the process. I still say it’s a good thing to win the games. I’ll repeat: An honor.

Quick follow-up:

That cable TV reference was not implying that you lived on Mars or in a cave - If you have cable, you probably have WTBS-17, which shows a huge serving of the Braves games. You can see that beautiful ballpark for yourself. Not a backhanded insult.

Don’t forget that it’s taken your city at least 5 years, and people have spent millions of dollars (and maybe bribed some officials :wink: ) to win the games.

The construction industry will do incredibly well during the lead-up to the games (which is why many Organizing Committee donors are from that field), but it doesn’t do anyone else a heck of a lot of good on a strict financial level.

Your answer sounds like someone in the IOC states one day : “we’re going to hold the games in your city in 2008. I expect you to be grateful for this honor”. While actually candidate cities actively lobby for years to hold the games. Sure, they aren’t going to decline, since they loudly insisted at the first place and spent huge amounts of money in the process.
Refering to ** quicken 78 ** I hope the best for London bid (Or else the games might be held in Paris :eek: )

NYC! NYC! NYC! Go New York City!

Sure, because that’s what New York needs. More traffic. It’s bad enough during a Yankees game.

Fortunately Denver had Dick Lamm who wasn’t particularly concerned with grace, hehe. :slight_smile:

Salt Lake City doper checking in here.

The 2002 Olympics were a boost to the local teeming millions, not that I think it has affected the tourism too much (I don’t have people telling me they spent their winter ski vacation here because “Salt Lake City was the 2002 Olympics!”). But we did have a number of businesses show some interest in being in town during the events, resulting in the clean up of some west side buildings, sprucing up the downtown, and the building of the Gateway, a high end shopping complex. Since then, the Gateway has been a “hot spot” for other businesses, including some educational venues such as a planetarium and potentially an aquarium.

A HUGE bonus was the improvements in the highway system. Utah got some sizable federal money to upgrade the main transportation highways (I-15 and I-215), and after the dust has settled this seems to have encouraged local politicians to keep up the trend. The years before 2002 were horrible, though: Utah should have been closed due to construction. A number of business went bankrupt due to access being so restricted.

The new skating arena was a boost to a otherwise empty and run down part of the valley. My family and I took ice skating lessons there this last winter, which I doubt we would have done otherwise. That being said, I recommend you learn to skate on ice that is not “the fastest ice on earth.” Balance was more difficult to achieve, and my wife broke her arm in a fall. For those of you who are already proficient, though, you’ll love it!

Oh, and the traffic here wasn’t really all that bad during the events. I knew all the back roads, and most of the traffic was headed up into the mountains or to specific arenas. These were not located near the suburbs or my place of business. Other’s MMV, though.

So, yes, I think SLC hosting the 2002 Olympics was a boost. It didn’t seem to rake in millions, but it did encourage some building and improvement that makes the Wasatch Mountain Conglomoration ™ a better place to live.

Now if we could only get a few more museums in here… Does the Smithsonian want to establish a satellite location? :slight_smile: