Economic Affairs

The Olympics need an economic rescue plan

Host cities are learning that the costs far exceed the benefits.

Against an original budget for the Games of US$7.3 billion (S$9.9 billion), Japan officially ended up spending US$15.4 billion.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

As weird as they may have been, the Tokyo Olympics turned out to be a sporting feast, with athletes managing to break 20 world records despite no live spectators to cheer them on, barring teammates and officials. Japan deserves accolades for putting on a spectacular show amid trying circumstances, bringing joy to billions of TV viewers around the world.

But there's no getting away from the fact that the event was a financial disaster in the face of inflated costs and decimated revenues. Against an original budget for the Games of US$7.3 billion (S$9.9 billion), Japan officially ended up spending US$15.4 billion. Unofficial estimates are much higher. Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, author of the book, Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics And The World Cup, reckons that the actual cost was around US$35 billion.

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