most costly and financially most risky type of mega-project
July 13, 2016 11:54 PM   Subscribe

The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Just in time for Rio, a trio of scholars led by Bent Flyvbjerg have published their findings on cost data for both Summer and Winter Games, starting with the Rome 1960 Summer and Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Games, and continuing until the Sochi 2014 Winter and Rio 2016 Summer Games. The average cost of putting on the Olympics? US$ 8.9 billion dollars.

While many mega-projects have cost overruns in the billions, "at 156 percent in real terms, the Olympics have the highest average cost overrun of any type of mega-project."
posted by spamandkimchi (27 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
can we get rid of the Olympics yet
posted by solarion at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


I am so glad Boston managed to avert the Olympic self-inflicted wound.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:26 AM on July 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


I love the Olympics. I think the organizing committee and the entire backoffice should be obliterated and the file cabinets salted, though.

I like the idea of just having the summers in Greece every time permanently.
posted by rhizome at 12:32 AM on July 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


That 8.9bn average is for the games over the last decade. The overall average cost over the entire period studied is 5.2bn for summer and 3.1bn for winter.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:26 AM on July 14, 2016


How much of that is for the IOC executives' personal amenities?

Snarking aside, I wonder how much of Rio's trend-breakingly low costs are contributing to the state of construction and the dangerous working conditions. It's easy for the books to look good as long as you fake the numbers, and do sloppy work and disregard the safety of the workers, athletes and guests. (Note the remark in the second link that the predicted cost for the Olympics is $12 billion, not the $4.6 billion mentioned in the economic survey.)
posted by at by at 2:28 AM on July 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Seriously. There are basketball championships, swimming, etc, etc, outside of the the Olympics. Enough. How about an Olympics of the classical games - like running, discus, javelin, wrestling, and so on - held in Greece every so often.

OTOH, its practically the only time I can watch curling, so there's that.
posted by sudogeek at 4:11 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am so glad Boston managed to avert the Olympic self-inflicted wound.

And, as a former longtime Boston resident, I am too. But as a current longtime resident of Tokyo I'm somewhere between rage and despair at what's coming in 2020. The waste. In so many ways. Waste of money. Waste of resources not on what the country should really be building (Tohoku. Kumamoto).

It's going to be a total fiasco that will be papered over pretty well.
posted by Gotanda at 5:16 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Olynpics might be the best idea most perverted.
posted by entropone at 5:21 AM on July 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


I don't think any of this is news, really. It's nice, though, to have some real numbers. I also like the idea of just holding the games in Greece (or some other permanent venue) from now on. Not sure where the winter games could go. Someplace where they don't have to worry about not getting enough snow, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 AM on July 14, 2016


I've mostly stopped paying any attention to the Olympics. Between the corruption, the doping scandals, and the outright oddness of some of the sports that are added in those geopolitical tradeoffs (You want ping pong? Then we get synchronized swimming), I'm just not interested.

As a tool for passing public funds to politically connected developers and associates, though, the Olympics are unparalleled.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:36 AM on July 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think I've mentioned here before how I'd change the Olympics - for every Olympiad, two host cities would be picked, and the events would be "drafted" according to the desires and capacities of each host city. One city builds/upgrades an athletics-ready stadium, an arena for indoor team sports, the other and olympic pool and an arena for gymnastics and wrestling and so on. Some sports would be permanent fixtures, others would depend on the willingness (and capacity) of the hosts to provide venues (so, if hosts are not big on baseball or track cycling, it would be left out). Host selection would be made by matching the two bids that would complement each other the best (along the traditional ratings already used)
Both hosts would get a substancial cut in expense and could avoid building some venues that would not be utilised in a way that they'd be paid quickly(such as baseball stadiums, velodromes, pools, several arenas, etc).
posted by lmfsilva at 5:39 AM on July 14, 2016


It was interesting in the latest round of selection for the winter games, the selection for 2022, how all the candidate cities in democratic countries dropped out and the IOC was left to choose between Beijing and Almaty. Oslo dropped out after being chosen as one of three finalists and I believe other cities left before even getting to that stage. It is becoming difficult for any democratically accountable government to justify the costs of the Olympics to voters. We are seeing this first and most clearly in the smaller of the two Olympics, but I think it will spread to the Summer games.

I like the idea of permanent sites, or perhaps a few of them on different continents that could be used in rotation, those sites would also be places to hold non-Olympic international championships of various sports.

I'm one of the those people who just loves the Olympics, but I'd never wish them on a city I love. (Though I do enjoy watching the Twin Cities' periodic attempts. So quixotic!)
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:14 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


#AnywhereElse2024: Still relevant.
posted by maryr at 6:43 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


If the IOC started making it about the games and not about how much money they can extract from the host countries and sponsors, it would be a much better place. I vaguely remember a story about the Tennis facility for Rio. Rio wanted a large, but usable tennis stadium, and the IOC kept trying to bully them into adding expensive things that would be of little use after the games, like luxury boxes for big sponsors and such.

I am still trying to figure out who is more corrupt: FIFA or the IOC. At least there have been arrests and indictments on FIFA recently.
posted by Badgermann at 6:46 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think the Olympics should be awarded in blocks. If you get the 2024 games you get the 2032 games as well while the 2028 games and 2036 games get bundled together. This way you still get a mix of cities, hosts have time to fix issues from the first games, and we're not building new facilities all the time. I honestly think something like this is going to have to happen soon for the Winter games.
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:54 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The global spirit of humanity that drives the Olympics is something a greatly admire. The corrupt, self serving bureaucracy of the IOC is a big negative. I was in Salt Lake City in 2002 for the winter Olympics. I can say the most local population feels it was a positive experience and surveys show strong support for doing it again. The legacy infrastructure we retained from the Olympic venues have been a nice side benefit. In fact I was using the ski jump hills and the bobsled track in Park City just this last weekend.

Based on news reports, I don't expect many in Brazil/Rio will end up with the same opinion.
posted by ShakeyJake at 7:36 AM on July 14, 2016


I'm glad that Chicago managed to dodge the Olympic bullet too.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2016


I've been a lifelong fan of the Olympics, and I've decided that I fully support the idea of building a big complex in Greece and just having it there every four years.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:42 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Since it is an internationally governed continent, the permanent Olympics location should be in Antarctica. All IOC members will be required to live there permanently in an Ice Fortress of Solitude, awaiting The Return of the Athletes every 2 years to the Sports Dome.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:52 AM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


On further consideration, given that we could run the winter and summer Olympics simultaneously in Antarctica, for further cost savings we could go back to the 4-year schedule. More solitude time for the IOC!
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2016


I am a huge Olympics fan - Winter is my favorite (duh; I'm Norwegian), but I'll avidly watch every Summer program as well. I get cable turned on at my house for a month every 2 years, just for this. And then I watch on the apps as well. I frequently schedule vacation time around it (though not this time, and I'm fretting a bit about all the events I'll miss). I went to the Lillehammer Olympics and can't wait to go again someday. I'm not a fan of professional sports, but I looove the Olympics (and yes, I understand the hypocrisy in that).

However. There's no question they need to be retooled/rearranged/reworked. I also like the idea of rotating between set sites; maybe 1-2 on each continent - but there are downsides to that as well. I don't know the answer but I do know that I *heart* the Olympics and want them to continue, and we need to find a way to make that happen.
posted by widdershins at 9:34 AM on July 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


..the permanent Olympics location should be in Antarctica. All IOC members will be required to live there permanently in an Ice Fortress of Solitude, awaiting The Return of the Athletes every 2 years to the Sports Dome.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:56 AM on July 14
It's considered poor form to so obviously go trolling for an "Eponysterical!"
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:19 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The global spirit of humanity that drives the Olympics is something a greatly admire. The corrupt, self serving bureaucracy of the IOC is a big negative.

Yes, the IOC is surely the problem:

NBC Rings Up $1 Billion in Ad Sales for Rio Olympics, 4 Months Faster Than London Looking at a record haul for 2016 Games
posted by sneebler at 9:52 PM on July 14, 2016


Well they did pay the IOC a metric shitload for their television rights:
NBC has held the American broadcasting rights to the Summer Olympic Games since the 1988 games and the rights to the Winter Olympic Games since the 2002 games. In 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the Olympics through the 2020 games, the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history.On May 7, 2014, NBC agreed to a $7.75 billion contract extension to air the Olympics through the 2032 games. -- Wikipedia
So, yeah, as one who makes a living inside a sport dominated by the Olympics/Paralympics I am more than willing to lay a lot of blame at the feet of both the IOC and IPC.
posted by mce at 11:55 PM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


As much as I dislike the waste and corruption of the Olympics as they stand now, I'm pretty sure the most costly and financially most risky type of mega-project is still war.
posted by ckape at 1:47 AM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm going to watch the Olympics primarily to see who the first medalist to get robbed at gunpoint will turn out to be.
posted by Justinian at 3:05 AM on July 15, 2016


How L.A.'s 1984 Summer Olympics Became the Most Successful Games Ever

The profits were used to create an endowment called the LA84 Foundation, which funds youth sporting events, resources, and facilities throughout the area. With smart management, the endowment has grown over the years, and over $214 million has helped an estimated three million children and 1,100 organizations in Southern California. Recently, the LA84 Foundation helped raise money to pay coaches and buy equipment at LAUSD high schools after budget cuts decimated their programs.

posted by Room 641-A at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


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