3 Hosting Will Bankrupt Your Country
Cities all over the world get down and dirty for a shot at bringing the globe's greatest games to their country. It's like the Hunger Games of the adult world, only without the starvation, murder and incest (we haven't read The Hunger Games). Getting chosen to host the Olympics is a tacit acknowledgment that your city is awesome and worthy of the eyes of the whole planet. Do you think anyone is going to campaign to bring the Olympics to Little Rock, Arkansas, or Cleveland? Hosting the Olympics means your city will be remembered and respected for decades. Is there any other honor greater than that?
"Remember us? We used to have Lebron James?"
But there's a price to getting the privilege of hosting the Olympics, and that price might be your entire economy. Greece learned the lesson the hard way.
Greece's initial budget for the 2004 games was 4.5 billion euros, but the actual cost of the games quickly doubled that estimate. When all was said and done, the cost of the games was 5 percent of Greece's GDP, and eight years later, the country hasn't recovered from the debt. The city of Vancouver has given up on recovering all the money it put into its fancy schmancy Olympic Village condos that were later converted into residential homes. Today the buildings form a ghost town, and city officials are struggling to come up with a way to just break even on them.
The Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 plunged the city into a recession, with the tax burden of the games ending up costing around $30,000 per family in the city. And none of these financial disasters compare to Montreal (Greece pending). Their Olympic stadium wasn't finished until 11 years after the games ended, and it took no less than 30 years to pay down the debt incurred to host the 1976 Olympics.
They had to move in with Toronto just to make ends meet.
Which completely explains why the people of Bern, Switzerland, voted down their chance to host the 2010 games. And why Detroit wisely stopped bidding for the "honor" by 1972.
All of this is especially baffling when you consider ...
2 Whoever Pays the Most Money Gets to Host
The only thing harder than a city completing the Olympics bidding process is a city completing the "We now no longer have homeless people and everyone is beautiful here" process. The IOC scrutinizes everything from the city's sports venues, transportation infrastructure and housing capacities to the general attitude of the citizens themselves. Do you know why Paris didn't get to host the 2012 Olympics? Because there was a general strike the day the Olympic Committee visited and public transportation was brought to a standstill. Boom. The Olympics were canceled for you, France. Good luck next time. You can't fake being ready to host thousands of people for the event of a lifetime.
"No, no, they just look small because they're only like eight inches wide."
And a lot of dollars goes a long way in persuading IOC members to choose your town. Investigators of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics bid discovered that tens of thousands of dollars per IOC member were spent wooing them. While Salt Lake City was giving committee members cheap disposable cameras as souvenirs, the Japanese were handing out pricey video cameras like they were candy. In fact, at a time when the limit on IOC gifts was $200, the Japanese contingent spent an average of $5,700 on each committee member. When all was said and done, Nagano spent about $24 million on their bid, five times as much as Salt Lake City spent. Not that all of this information was immediately transparent, since Nagano destroyed their spending records before anyone could get a hold of them.
So was it any wonder that Salt Lake City went nuts the next time they had a shot at wooing the IOC? After four failed attempts at the games, the American committee slathered the IOC host city committee members with over "$1 million in cash, gifts, ski trips and scholarships." Once the scandal broke, it took none other than Willard "Mitt" Romney to clean the mess up.
The first and only year shuffleboard was an Olympic event.