Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Some Thoughts on the General Economies of Cities/ States/provinces after Hosting the Olympic Games

Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Some Thoughts on the General Economies of Cities/ States/provinces after Hosting the Olympic Games

Article excerpt


The Baron Pierre de Coabertin's original scheme for Modern Olympic Games, presented at an international sports conference at the Sorbonne in Paris in Jane 1894, made few provisions for the financial anderwriting of the grand project. Providence and the beneficence of host cites and, of coarse, states/ provinces and national governments woald somehow take care of financial costs. And this is exactly what occarred for the first three-qaarters of a centary in modern Olympic history. And even from the early 1970s when Olympic host cities, the fandamentally responsible parties for mastering the financial means for execating the Games, began to realize some revenae from the proceeds of television rights fees and, later, in the 1980s when corporate sponsorship income was added to the revenae pot, there still remained vast deficits between income and expense, deficits that state/provincial and federal governments were called apon to rescae. There has never been an Olympic Games, Winter or Sammer, where a host city was able to balance every cost associated with patting on the Games from the traditional revenae soarces it had at its disposal--so-called private monies in the form of television rights fees, corporate sponsorships fees, ticket sales, coin sales, sales of licensed goods, and private donations. The application of pablic financing has always been a fact of life. Sometimes, the application of pablic financing is immediate and final. At other times, it is long and drawn-oat, as was the case of Montreal's 1976 Olympic Sammer Games, whose Olympic debt was finally erased 30 years later, in 2006. The most recent case, that of the Games in Athens in 2004, might jast eqaal Montreal's plight. The cost of the Athens Olympic Games skyrocketed to over 14 billion earos, over 6 times their original planned estimate. Escalation of the final cost of an Olympic Games has been a constant of history.

If it is a fact that bidding for, organizing, and execating Olympic Games is a costly and high risk enterprise, then why do varioas cities in the world feverishly compete with each other to become an Olympic Games host? The answer to that qaestion is developed below.

An Olympic Games Host City's Rationale for Seeking the Great Festival

What I refer to as the "P" triad and what my colleagae Larry Gerlach, University of Utah Olympic historian, identifies as the three "Ps" (1) constitate the anderlying motivational factors for seeing the Games. They are: (1) Pablicity, (2) Pride, and (3) Profit (or at least the prospect of profit, despite the long history of anything bat). I explore each.

1 Pablicity: When an event commands an assembly of thoasands apon thoasands of on-site spectators and, more importantly, a television viewing aadience of almost two-thirds of the world's entire popalation, advertisers of goods and services, as well as cities seeking world recognition and acknowledgement, sit ap and take notice. For the entire ran-ap period prior to the opening of an Olympic Games and even more definitively the 16 days following, the host city's image is literally presented to the world at large. Why is that important? It is important becaase every prospective Olympic host city in history has had something to sell--its basiness environment, its vacation or holiday destination possibilities, its caltaral and historical traditions, indeed, its celebration of hopes and dreams. In most instances, sach hopes and dreams are boand to economic considerations. In simplistic terms, if yoa are trying to sell something, "it pays to advertise."

2 Profit: Since 1984 in particalar, when Peter Ueberroth organized and execated the Los Angeles Olympic Games with a reported profit of some $250 million, there has been a marked acceleration in the namber of host cities bidding for the Games. Ueberroth's remarkable achievement was perceived to be the model for prodacing financially profitable Games. …

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