Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC), made reducing the size and cost of the Games a priority during his tenure. Of course, there's only so much one man can do.
The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which began Feb. 8 and run until Feb. 24, are the biggest and most expensive Winter Games ever, featuring 2,400 athletes and a price tag of $2 billion. While private sources such as TV networks will foot much of the bill, federal, state and local taxpayers will pitch in about $625 million, roughly $1 of every $3 spent.
Twice as large and nearly six times more costly than the last Winter Olympics held in the United States -- the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. -- the Utah affair represents a significant step up from the 1998 Winter Games held in Nagano, Japan, for $1.14 billion. In fact, Salt Lake City's estimated $1.93 billion budget nearly equals that of the much larger 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney (which cost $1.97 billion) and approaches the gold-medal standard of the 1996 Atlanta Games, which set an Olympic spending record of $2.4 billion.
The staggering tab -- $114 …