You may not know that hosting the Olympic Games is actually a loss-making business. From the first to the upcoming 32nd Tokyo Olympic Games, only one Olympic Games made a profit, and all the rest were lost without making money.
This is very confusing: Since it is a loss-making business, why are there so many countries rushing to hold it? Just like the Tokyo Olympics in Japan, not only did they struggle to bid for the Olympics beforehand, but the epidemic also failed to stop Japan’s determination to host the Olympics (after one year of postponement, the Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Held between dates) .
You know, because of the epidemic, 97% of the games in this Olympics will be held empty, and the expected ticket revenue of up to 800 million U.S. dollars (approximately RMB 5.2 billion) will drop sharply to tens of millions of U.S. dollars. The Tokyo Olympics The loss was heavy. The cost of the Tokyo Olympics is as high as 26 billion U.S. dollars (about 168.5 billion yuan, and due to the impact of the epidemic, an additional 2.8 billion U.S. dollars may be added) .
The Tokyo New National Stadium, designed by the team of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, cost 1.427 billion US dollars (approximately 10.07 billion RMB), and the construction period lasted three years. It will soon become the opening ceremony, closing ceremony, and closing ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The location of some events. Image source: Visual China
Although this figure is less than the 2008 Beijing Olympics (40 billion U.S. dollars) and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (55 billion U.S. dollars) , it is still an astronomical figure, which is equivalent to Cambodia’s total GDP in 2020 (IFM 2020). Data) . This cost is compared with the ticket revenue, with the word “loss” in capitals.
Knowing that it will lose money, why does Japan insist on hosting the Olympics? Can hosting the Olympic Games bring any unexpected benefits?
The cost of hosting the Olympics
In fact, in the face of the loss-making Olympics, many Japanese want the government to cancel it. According to a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun in May 2021, more than 83% of Japanese people want the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled or postponed, and only 14% agree to hold the Olympic Games on time. The support rate is the lowest except in January this year (11%) . Compared with the honor of hosting the Olympic Games, people are more concerned about the actual cost issue.
However, the opposition of the people did not change the decision of the Japanese government. What’s more interesting is that, judging from the history of the Olympic Games, the people of the host country were not like the Japanese people at the beginning and were concerned about the cost issue. After all, when the modern Olympic Games were first held, the host city could still bear the cost burden. At that time, the Olympic Games were mainly hosted by some developed countries:
On the one hand, these countries already have developed economies and high-level infrastructure. Therefore, hosting an Olympic Games will not have a great impact on public finances. On the other hand, before the television broadcast era, the Olympic Games were not like they are now. Luxury, the organizers have no idea of making money through the Olympics.
But after the 1960s and 1970s, the modern Olympic Games encountered a turning point. Economist Andrew Zimbalist believes that the Olympics has gradually become an economic gamble during this period.
In the 1960s, the Olympic Games developed rapidly. The number of participants in the Summer Olympics almost doubled compared to before, and the number of events increased by a third. At the same time, every Olympic Games since 1960 has experienced serious cost overruns.
Scholars Bent Flyvbjerg (Bent Flyvbjerg) , Alexander Budzier (Alexander Budzier) and Daniel Lunn (Daniel Lunn) published a paper in September 2020. The Olympic Games and the Summer Olympics overspend on average by 172%. Depending on the country, the overspending rate ranges from 2% to 720%.
The total cost of the Olympic Games in the winter and summer from 1960 to 2016 and the proportion of cost overruns. Source: businessinsider.com
In 1972, for the first time in the history of the Olympics, the first city that refused to host the Olympics appeared-Denver , USA . In 1970, the American city of Denver won the right to host the 12th Winter Olympics, but then in a statewide referendum held on November 7, 1972, voters in Colorado refused to fund the Olympics.
Denver has therefore become the first and only city in history that has won the right to host the Olympics but chose to give up. The 1976 Winter Olympics were finally changed to be held in Innsbruck , Austria .
However, at this time, there are still cities keen to host the Olympics. For example, Montreal, Canada (Montreal) . In 1976, the Montreal Olympics was held. At that time, Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau vowed: “Just like a man can’t have children, the Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby .”
But the reality is smashing the face, and this Olympic Games has suffered huge losses. The municipality has spent huge sums of money to build the Olympic Stadium, with a budget of 145 million U.S. dollars, but the actual expenditure is 1.2 billion U.S. dollars, and it requires a lot of debt financing and post-match maintenance costs. In 1976, the total cost of this stadium has reached 2 billion US dollars.
The main stadium of the Montreal Olympic Stadium. The Montreal Tower, which is 175 meters high, was not completed during the Olympic Games and only officially opened in 1987. The construction process of the main stadium is extremely difficult, and the cost has to be increased in order to be put into use smoothly. In addition to the cost of building other stadiums, the Olympic Games lost a total of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars. Image source: Visual China
After the fiasco in Montreal, the cities finally became sober and did not dare to deal with the Olympics bidding casually. As a result, when it bid for the 1984 Summer Olympics in 1979, Los Angeles in the United States was the only city to bid for it. Fortunately, this Olympics was a success, not only a success, but also an important watershed in the modern Olympics.
The then President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch changed the attitude of the former IOC officials against the commercialization of the Olympics and introduced commercial operations into the Olympics. Samaranch set up a financial and marketing department in the International Olympic Committee to be responsible for corporate sponsorship, television broadcasting and financial investment of the Olympic Games. This move immediately increased the income of the International Olympic Committee.
After Samaranch took office, the United States, which hosted the 1984 Olympics, also learned the lessons of the huge losses of the previous two Olympics, and pioneered the “private model” of commercial sponsorship in the Olympics.
Juan Antonio Samaranch (1920~2010), who served as the chairman of the International Olympic Committee for 21 years, successfully promoted the commercialization of the Olympic Games and freed the International Olympic Committee from the financial crisis. After stepping down, he became the honorary chairman of the International Olympic Committee for life. Image source: International Olympic Committee
The then chairman of the U.S. Olympic Organizing Committee, Peter Victor Ueberroth (Peter Victor Ueberroth) bid for the commercial rights of Olympic events, stipulated that each industry limited one company to sponsor, and set a minimum sponsorship threshold of 4 million US dollars. Soon, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Fujitsu and other companies became the first sponsors of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
The final profit of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics was $225 million. The Olympic economy and sports industry was born. However, so far, Los Angeles is still the only profitable Olympic host city. In addition to the first commercial innovation in the Los Angeles Olympics, another important reason is that the 1984 Olympics made full use of existing stadiums and facilities, and did not overdraft the cost of building stadiums.
The Los Angeles Memorial Stadium was the main venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, and it will also be the main venue for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Image source: Visual China
Only two new Olympic venues were built for the Los Angeles Olympic Games: the Olympic Cycling Stadium sponsored by the 7-11 Company, and the Olympic Swimming Stadium sponsored by McDonald’s.
The success of Los Angeles has led to a continuous increase in the number of bidding cities, from 2 in 1988 to 12 in 2004, which allowed the International Olympic Committee to choose the most expensive and costly candidate city for planning.
In addition, the number of bids from developing countries has more than tripled after 1988. Countries such as China, Russia and Brazil are eager to use the Olympics to show their progress on the world stage. But these countries need to invest heavily in building the necessary infrastructure.
The cost of the 2008 Beijing Olympics soared to 45 billion U.S. dollars, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics cost more than 50 billion U.S. dollars, and the 2016 Rio Olympics cost as much as 20 billion U.S. dollars. The high cost has once again aroused people’s concern about cost. Some cities have withdrawn from the Olympic bidding in 2022, 2024 and 2028.
What money does the Olympic host city cost?
Judging from the holding of the previous Olympic Games, almost all the organizers are losing money. Let’s calculate an account. To host an Olympic Games, about four parts of the budget are needed:
(1) Bidding costs;
(2) Investment related to competition venues and Olympic Village;
(3) The construction of infrastructure such as highways, airports and railways;
(4) Operational services (security, transportation, medical services, customs, immigration, etc.) provided by public authorities during the Olympics .
The first part of the budget belongs to the budget at the time of the bidding, and it needs to be paid whether or not the bid is won. Participating cities have to pay 150,000 US dollars and 500,000 US dollars to the International Olympic Committee as participation fees in the initial application stage and the final election stage, respectively. In addition, the participating cities have to pay for the cost of making a bid plan, hiring consultants, promoting and receiving members of the International Olympic Committee.
This part of the cost is a huge sunk cost for the unsuccessful city. Chicago spent more than 100 million U.S. dollars when it failed to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and Tokyo lost 150 million U.S. dollars when it failed to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Once the bid is won, the host city needs to spend nearly ten years preparing for the influx of athletes and tourists.
The host city must first build an Olympic Village to provide accommodation, sports training facilities, running tracks, weightlifting facilities, restaurants, entertainment facilities, hospitals and other services for nearly 11,000 athletes and approximately 5,000 coaches and trainers. The village of azimuth service.
In addition, there must be the Olympic Stadium, road infrastructure, telecommunications infrastructure, etc. The combined cost of the above two items ranges from 5 billion to 50 billion U.S. dollars.
Among all budgets, the budget related to construction and infrastructure has always accounted for the largest proportion. For example, in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games budget of more than 50 billion US dollars, more than 85% was used to build non-sports infrastructure from scratch. More than half of Beijing’s US$45 billion budget spent in 2008 was used to build railways, roads and airports, and nearly a quarter was used to clean up the environment.
Operating costs are a small part of the organizers’ Olympic budget, but they are still important. After the “9.11 Incident”, the security cost required for the Olympics could easily reach US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion. Sydney spent US$250 million in 2000, while Athens spent more than US$1.5 billion in 2004.
And these expensive new facilities in the host city can easily be left unused after the game, which is another hidden cost. The International Olympic Committee generally requires that the Olympic Village be equipped with 40,000 accommodation rooms, and an additional 15,000~18,000 rooms as spare rooms. These houses are usually left unused for a long period of time within five years after the end of the Olympics, and the annual maintenance cost of them requires 14 million US dollars.
The same is true for certain stadiums. Sydney’s Olympic Stadium costs the city US$30 million a year to maintain; Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium costs US$460 million to build and US$10 million a year for maintenance, but most of the time is idle; the construction of the 2004 Athens Olympics is now almost All were abandoned, and the costs incurred by these facilities led to the Greek debt crisis.
Some money-losing Olympics made local people long-term debts: Montrealers only paid off their debts for the 1976 Olympics in 2006, and Russian taxpayers are still paying nearly $1 billion a year to repay their debts for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The benefits and costs of the Olympics
Since the cost of the Olympics is so high, what about the benefits? So far, the Los Angeles Olympics is still the only profitable Olympics. For most Olympics, as hosting costs continue to soar, revenue can only offset a small part of the expenditure.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics revenue was 3.6 billion US dollars, and the cost exceeded 40 billion US dollars; the 2012 London Olympics revenue was 5.2 billion US dollars, and the cost was as high as 18 billion US dollars. But most of this income goes to the International Olympic Committee.
In the middle of the 20th century, about 84.1% of Olympic revenue came directly from television and other media; by the time of the Beijing Olympics, this proportion might have been as high as 90%. The largest revenue generated by the Olympic Games, more than half of it was collected by the International Olympic Committee.
The changes started in 1984. Before 1984, more than 90% of the revenue from television broadcasting belonged to the organizers themselves; but in the 1984 and subsequent Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee gradually increased the proportion of television revenue control; in the period from 2006 to 2010, the International Olympic Games The committee’s control over TV revenue is as high as 51%. This means that more than half of the direct income of the Olympic Games is taken away by the Olympic Committee, and the organizers actually have little left.
The Olympic Channel (Olympic Channel), an online TV channel operated by the International Olympic Organizing Committee, was put into use at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It broadcasts live sports events, news, athlete stories, as well as Olympic historical footage and official videos in the IOC archives And other content. Image source: olympics.com
Since the Olympics do not make money, why are there so many countries vying to host it? Some politicians’ reasons are that hosting the Olympics can increase local employment, develop tourism, and improve the overall economic level. However, it is doubtful whether this is really the case.
The first is to increase employment. A study by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development shows that the Olympics often create short-term employment opportunities. Unless the unemployment rate in the host area is high, these job opportunities will basically flow to the employed population.
According to the data provided by the study, 48,000 temporary jobs were created during the 2012 London Olympics, but only 10% of them provided job opportunities for the unemployed.
Another study on the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics also came to a similar conclusion: The Salt Lake City Olympics added 7,000 jobs in the short term, but this was only about one-tenth of what government officials promised, and it did not increase long-term employment opportunities.
In the tourism industry, the situation is also very complicated. Because the Olympics has brought more cumbersome security checks, more crowded people and more expensive prices than usual, many tourists are reluctant to travel.
Among the previous Olympics, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics was a successful case. After the Olympics, Barcelona became the 6th most popular tourist destination in Europe. Before that, Barcelona only ranked 11th in this ranking. The tourism industry in Sydney and Vancouver also increased slightly after hosting the Olympic Games. But in other cases, such as London, Beijing, and Salt Lake City, the tourism industry of these cities all declined during the Olympics.
Whether there is a positive correlation between the Olympic Games and the country’s overall economy is still doubtful.
The survey results released by the Boston National Bureau of Economic Research show that hosting the Olympics has a positive impact on a country’s international trade. But economists Stephen Billings and Scott Holladay found that hosting the Olympics will not have a long-term impact on the host country’s GDP.
Although hosting the Olympics will not have a long-term impact on the economy of the host country and city, the host country and city of the Olympic Games often experience economic recession after the Olympics. This is due to the rapid increase in investment and consumption income during the preparatory stage of the Olympics, the relative decrease in investment and consumption income after the Olympics, and the large number of idle sports facilities and the huge maintenance costs of sports facilities after the Games.
This phenomenon is called the ” Post-Olympics Valley Effect ” (Post-Olympics Valley Effect) . This phenomenon has occurred in many Olympic host countries and cities in history. Such as Montreal, Canada, Athens, Greece, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As the first South American country to host the Olympic Games, Brazil ended up spending more than 20 billion U.S. dollars, and Rio de Janeiro alone has undertaken at least 13 billion U.S. dollars. Most of the large-scale infrastructure invested and built by Rio de Janeiro was far beyond budget, and most of the venues were abandoned or left unused after a year: the Olympic Park was closed, most of the facilities were filled with garbage, and nearly 4,000 apartments in the Olympic Village It was originally intended to be converted into housing for citizens, but it was eventually left vacant.
At the same time, at least 77,000 people were driven out of their homes during the construction process in this Olympics.
Rio Olympic swimming pool, the murals outside the stadium are in tatters. Image source: observersnews.com
Not only that, the economic and political situation is unstable, and Brazil has experienced a series of storms after the Olympics. President Dilma Rousseff (Dilma Rousseff) in the Olympic Games after the dismissal, Brazilian political turmoil, Brazil also entered for decades the most serious economic recession.
Who is the biggest winner of the Olympics?
The hosting of the Olympics seems to be a “business” with steady losses and no profits. However, amidst the wailing of the organizers, some people had the last laugh.
As the main organizer and promoter of the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee has an amazing income during each Olympic Games. For example, from 2001 to 2004, the income of the International Olympic Committee exceeded US$4 billion; from 2005 to 2008, the income of the International Olympic Committee reached US$5.45 billion; from 2009 to 2012, this figure soared to US$8 billion. Compared with the organizers, the International Olympic Committee can be said to make a steady profit without losing money.
However, the International Olympic Committee did not attract money like this from the beginning. Before the 1980s, officials of the International Olympic Committee generally believed that “the Olympics is not a commercial fair, and commercialization will destroy the spirit of the Olympics.” From 1952 to 1972, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage (Avery Brundage) rejected all commercialization of the Olympic Games, believing that corporate lobbying would affect the decision-making of the International Olympic Committee.
Avery Brundage (Avery Brundage, 1887-1975), the fifth president of the International Olympic Committee, so far the only American in this position, proficient in basketball. Track and field, discus and other sports. Image source: International Olympic Committee
Therefore, by the time Brundage retired, the International Olympic Committee had only $2 million in assets. And only eight years later, the assets of the International Olympic Committee swelled to 45 million U.S. dollars. This is thanks to the key person mentioned earlier, the new president of the International Olympic Committee-Samaranch.
He sold the television broadcasting rights of the Olympics by way of auction. In 1984, he signed the first broadcasting contract after taking office and sold the broadcasting rights of the Calgary Winter Olympics to ABC. The price was more than three times the original price, an increase of 217.5 million US dollars. After that, Samaranch attracted the world’s top companies to sponsor the Olympic Games. These measures have significantly increased the income of the International Olympic Committee.
So far, there are five main sources of income for the International Olympic Committee: TV broadcast, international sponsorship, domestic sponsorship from the host country, ticket revenue, and license revenue.
Among them, the income from television broadcasting accounts for more than half of the income of the International Olympic Committee. From 2001 to 2004, television broadcast revenue was US$2.2 billion, accounting for more than 55% of total revenue. With the increase in television penetration and the IOC’s greater control over the revenue of television broadcasting rights, the income of the IOC has also been steadily rising.
In the face of increasing Olympic revenue, how does the International Olympic Committee allocate it? The official statement is that the International Olympic Committee will allocate 90% of its revenue to the National Olympic Committees, National Olympic Committees and individual sports international league organizations to support the global and national Olympic movement. Only the remaining 10% is used as the daily management expenses of the organization.
The International Olympic Committee provides 49% of the income from television broadcasting and 50% of the income from international sponsorship for each Olympic Organizing Committee; the amount provided to the National Olympic Committee is uncertain, but during the period from 2001 to 2004, the International Olympic Committee still provides The Olympic Committee provided approximately US$318.5 million;
In addition, the International Olympic Committee will also provide funding to 28 individual sports federations for the Summer Olympics and 7 individual sports federations for the Winter Olympics, but the amount depends on the contribution of various sports during the Olympic Games.
Although it seems that most of the IOC’s income is used to support the Olympics, and I don’t have much money left, but compared to the organizers’ risk of debt, bankruptcy, and economic recession, the IOC is still “stable profit Winner without losing.
Knowing that it will lose money, why does Japan insist on doing it?
For most countries hosting the Olympics, losing money for the Olympics is almost a certainty.
Affected by the new crown epidemic, the Tokyo Summer Olympics originally held in 2020 had to be postponed for one year. The original cost was estimated to exceed US$26 billion, which is three times the total cost (US$7.3 billion) estimated by the Japanese bid committee when it was awarded the right to host the Olympic Games in 2013. many.
The one-year extension has increased operating costs by $1.6 billion, including maintenance costs, security measures, and rent for the Olympic Village. If Japan insists on hosting the competition, it will increase the cost of new crown prevention by 900 million US dollars. During the Olympics, about 300 doctors and 400 nurses are needed every day to maintain the health of athletes and others.
In December 2020, the Japanese broadcasting company NHK released a telephone survey of 1,200 people. 63% of people said that the Olympics should be postponed or cancelled again, and only 27% said that the Olympics should be held. This year, in the “Asahi Shimbun” poll mentioned at the beginning, 83% of people hoped to cancel/delay the Olympics.
However, the attitude of the Japanese government is ambiguous regarding the voice of the people. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga succumbed to the pressure of public opinion for the first time in May, saying that the government would not “put the Olympics first.” But he added that the final decision on whether to cancel is with the International Olympic Committee.
The International Olympic Committee was not wronged. Because Japan signed a ” Host City Contract 2020 ” (Host City Contract 2020) with the International Olympic Committee after its successful bid for the Olympics in 2013 . According to this contract, only the International Olympic Committee has the power to determine whether to cancel the Olympics.
The cancellation conditions are also very harsh, and the cancellation must be made only if the International Olympic Committee “has a reasonable basis to believe that the safety of Olympic participants is seriously threatened”. Moreover, once cancelled, Japan cannot claim compensation.
However, if Japan takes the initiative to cancel the Olympics, it will have to lose money to the International Olympic Committee. In addition to returning the US$760 million funded by the International Olympic Committee, the US$800 million in ticket revenue will also be wiped out. Not only that, the TV broadcast rights sold by the International Olympic Committee have to be compensated to broadcasters.
The income-generating mechanism of the International Olympic Committee is single, and more than 70% of its income is generated by selling television broadcasting rights. According to the IOC and NBC television broadcast agreement, from 2014 to 2032, NBC will pay up to 7.65 billion U.S. dollars to the IOC. If the Tokyo Olympics are cancelled, the International Olympic Committee has to lose money to NBC, but the money has to be paid out of Japan.
After calculating a sum of money, Japan can only bite the bullet and do it.
The overlord clause of the International Olympic Committee is an important reason for Japan’s insistence on hosting the Olympics. However, Japan is so persistent and there is an internal factor at work. This is also the purpose of Japan’s bid for the Olympics.
Japan has a serious Olympic complex, which is closely related to Japan’s role in World War II and its post-war development.
- The 1940 Olympic Games were originally scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan. However, because Japan was the main country that launched World War II, it was disqualified from hosting the event and was changed to Helsinki, the capital of Finland. But in the end, World War II broke out, and the 1940 Olympic Games ended in suspension.
- In 1964, after 24 years, Tokyo once again became the host city of the Olympic Games, and the opening was announced by the Emperor Showa. The Olympic Games have improved Japan’s international image, and it has a wave of goodwill, and it has also played a positive role in Japan’s post-war economic development.
- The right to host the 2020 Olympic Games will return to Tokyo, Japan. This Olympic Games will also become a milestone event. It will mark Tokyo as the only city in Asia that has hosted two Summer Olympics.
The five Olympic rings stand next to the Rainbow Bridge, a landmark in Tokyo, Japan. For the Japanese, hosting the Olympics is almost equivalent to bringing good luck to the national economy. Image source: olympics.com
When Japan initially bid for the 2020 Olympics, it hoped to use the Olympics to reverse Japan’s economic downturn in the past ten years and solve the social problems arising therefrom. The nuclear leakage caused by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011, the aging problem, and the trade war with South Korea have all affected Japan’s popular sentiment and international image.
An Olympic Games can revive people’s hearts and reverse the economic downturn. In this sense, if the Olympics are to be suspended, it will not only mean that Japan’s early investment has been emptied, but it will also exacerbate Japan’s existing social problems. It can be said that Japanese leaders are almost using the Olympics to gamble on national games. Regardless of the reasons, Japan is still riding a tiger and making compensation.
Having said that, after Japan, will there be any other countries taking over the Olympic Games that have reached such an extent?
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