Olympics, a money loser for the general public

July 18, the Globe and Mail headlined, “The Olympics are a great party. But they’re not worth billions in public money.” The editorial added:

Hosting a huge party takes a lot of work and money, but i’s definitely fun. Those hours with friends and family are great. But the joy is fleeting, and hangovers are inevitable…

A vast majority of Canadian citizens might agree the Olympics provide poor financial returns, but that is not a fatal obstacle to influential groups who want billions of public dollars spent on an athletic mega-event that enriches a corrupt international organization.

A survey by Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s most respected newspapers, found 83% of respondents were not in favour of holding the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. An Ipsos poll set the number opposed at 78%. Worries about COVID-19 worsened concerns about economic and social costs.

Despite broad opposition, the Japanese games proceeded and cost $C18 billion, double the initial estimate. According to the Globe, the IOC rakes in millions while host cities/countries foot the bill.

Writing in Atlantic magazine, Economics Professor Andrew Zimbalist listed three reasons why hosting the Olympics is a loser’s game:

  • The bidding process is hijacked by private interests.
  • There’s little evidence that it meaningfully increases tourism.

Zimbalist said supporters often justify the games by claiming economic benefits, but scholars find gains by the general public are minimal or non-existent:

Local committees, however, invariably are motivated and run by private business interests which individually stand to gain from the massive construction associated with the events… Since the private cost is diminutive and the private gain extraordinary, the local organizing committees, on behalf of the cities, are bound to overbid, wiping out any modest, potential economic gains.

It should be added that there is little evidence that tourism increases during the Games. Rather, Olympic tourists replace normal tourists who want to stay away to avoid the congestion and greater expense during the Games.

A paper by the American Economic Association examined before-the-Games predictions of economic benefits and found they are “rarely matched by reality when economists look back at the data.

Bribery, fraud, and excessive spending benefitting insiders have dominated international athletic organizations.

The Guardian’s obituary of journalist Andrew Jennings published in March 2022 suggests vast corruption is readily tolerated by those who expect to benefit. Television producer and investigative journalist James Oliver described how Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper branded him and Jennings “unpatriotic” for their BBC report about $100m of bribes to sports officials. The Sun called the BBC “Brainless, Betraying, Cretinous.”

The Globe editorial includes:

The Vancouver 2030 promoters published their initial financial estimates in a slim 14-page report earlier this month. The Games are forecast to cost $4-billion, of which $1.2-billion would be public money for venues, housing, and security. The promoters say all the costs of the organizing committee, to stage the Games, will be privately funded. The 2010 promoters said the same thing.

Promoters of Olympics 2020 hope inclusion of Líl̓wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations will garner public support. It is a strategy used in the fish farming and private power industries, where tiny minority interests offered Indigenous people are used to dull opposition to harmful projects. Olympic advocates present the 2030 event as a project of reconciliation and want media to refer to 2030 Olympics bid as “Indigenous-led.”

Costumed extras, or decision makers?

I think reconciliation would be better served by ensuring employment opportunities equal to others in BC, providing better healthcare and encouraging adequate housing so members of First Nations communities are not eight times as likely to experience homelessness as non-Indigenous people.

We’re capable of achieving those goals without a “great party.” Unfortunately, we care more about parties than living in a just society.

Hat tip to Richard McCandless, a former senior civil servant who provides a steady flow of financial analysis and explanations involving financial matters affecting the public.

Bob Mackin of theBreaker.News.com responded to Richard McCandless commentary with this:

How did we get here on the Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid? 

For the top to bottom on the bid, go top to bottom with theBreaker.news Gold Medal coverage. (See chronological headlines below; Links to stories embedded.) 

Also check out Red Mittens & Red Ink: The Vancouver Olympics. The only e-book about how Vancouver 2010 came and went

He also offered these links:

July 15: Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid on thin ice: Deputy city manager’s report

July 9: Mayor violated civic code of conduct with misleading Olympic bid Tweets: integrity commissioner

July 9: Another Vancouver Olympics in 2030 would cost taxpayers at least $1 billion, but many costs hidden or unknown 

July 7: B.C. NDP sport minister’s letter demands answers about Vancouver 2030 Olympics bid

June 29: Olympics bid inspection trio revealed 

June 15: Vancouver 2030 bid podium, so far: No cost estimates, no provincial support, no referendum

June 14: The IOC’s “democracy deficit”: Canadian Olympic officials tell partners to avoid a Vancouver 2030 referendum in local election year

May 25: Sneak peek at the Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid’s unlikely venues: Sun Peaks, Agrodome and Hastings Racecourse

May 7: Vancouver 2030 bid team big on hopes, vague on specifics 

May 3: IOC keeps Vancouver visit under wraps, as delegation ponders 2030 Winter Games sites

March 26: Vancouver mayoral candidate proposes 2030 Olympic bid plebiscite 

Dec. 12: Analysis: Vancouver 2030 Olympics bid — Who really wants it?

Categories: Olympics

5 replies »

  1. I think that it was a mistake for Transportation Expo 86 (the pollution on the land and foreshore of False Creek caused by the original owners, Cooperage (Socred contributors), was paid for by British Columbians; and then sold for a pittance to offshore owners.

    2010 Winter Olympics, no local snow, had to import, truck it from … where

    2030 ….. it can only get worse, weather wise; I’ll be in my late 80’s and not appreciate it


  2. We also have the same BS artists out with Vancouver hosting a few World Cup games in 4 years. For Olympics, we’ll also bring in a whole bunch of 3rd world guest construction workers and tell ourselves .that we’ll treat them better than Qatar did., we won’t have such a high death rate.


  3. Our local band of well heeled Vancouver boosters do not care about global warming; do not care about homelessness and do not care about fiscal economy; all they care about is the big show and the massive international photo-op.

    They love the expensive cocktail parties where only the elite few attend; they love the rush of being on television; they love every bit of glitz and glamour that comes with theses international events.

    The Vancouver boosters believe everyone should fund their party and by the way, you are not invited!


  4. John Furlong and his gang want to throw a party and invite the world (mostly white and definitely not African) and citizens of BC pick up the tab! As a promotional idea they will portray the event as part of truth and reconciliation involving First Nations. All this under the eye of the IOC an organization so corrupt that any mention of truth or reconciliation would be farcical. If you want to throw a party then pay for it yourself (including security) and then secure a bond to indemnify Vancouver and the province of BC for all costs. This is a joke . Furlong and his crew should wait for the pandemic to be finished and homelessness is no longer an issue and then maybe he can have his party.


  5. Greg Lafortune, I agree wtih you.

    Having another O here is just too expensive. Put the money into health care and housing. Having the Os here and passing it off as Reconciliation, OMG. Spending billions while Indigenous people need better health care, housing, clean running water on reserves. is not Reconcilliation.

    Reconcilliation is not handcuffing a Grandfather and his young Granddaughter in front of a bank where they were going about their business. Once institutions and police officers stop treating Indigenous people as criminals we will have Reconcilliation or getting a few steps closer to it.

    The Os are simply too expenive for all countries. Billions upon billions for a party and an organization mostly made up of rich old men from Euirope. I certainly don’t want the Os here. They give them to any one, like China has had them twice, bad human rights not a problem. Russia got the winter games and they cheated, but no problem, they’ll most likely get them again. That is not what I want in Canada.

    If we are going to have the Os continue, it would be best if we had perhaps permanent sites. Summer Os. held in one or two countries . The winter Os would be held perhaps in one of the Scandanavian countries and the facilities for both summer and winter would be permanent and the Os. themselves pay for these facilities. when the Os are not being held they can be used for training centers and other events. Build the sites once and be done with it. The countries which have the permanent sites would also have to meet specific requirements, like decent human rights, etc.

    Last week the Premiers were here in B.C. discussing health care and the need for the federal government to put more money into it. The O. boosters might want to give their heads a shake. We need better health care more than we need a two week party with sex trade workers coming in from all over and foreign workers being paid less than standard wages to build it all. We already have a shortage of housing and we know what happened for Expo 86 and the Os. People were evicted to make way for the paying tourists. Not a good way to Reconcile anything in this country,

    the Os are simply not good for tjhe enviornment either.

    Liked by 1 person

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