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SBD Global/November 1, 2013/Olympics

Hosting Olympic Games Comes At A Considerable Cost To Bidders

Boosters of Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics "were buoyed by the Massachusetts state legislature's recent move to create an Olympic exploratory committee," according to Jules Boykoff of the London GUARDIAN. In expressing interest to host the 2024 Olympics, Boston "joined other cities with the five-ring fever" -- places like Washington, D.C., L.A., Dallas, Philadelphia and San Diego. Before "plunging ahead, some clear-minded thinking is in order." We should not "be hoodwinked by the celebratory hoopla" -- hosting the Olympics "is a serious affair." It turns out the Olympic Games "are awash in fiscal myths." Games "boosters always roll out tantalizing promises." One common claim is that the Olympics "are a windfall for the host city, an economic turbo-charge that benefits all." Although developers and the local construction sector tend to benefit as a city builds the necessary infrastructure, in reality, academic economists "simply haven't found a positive relationship between hosting the Games and economic growth." Economist Jeffrey Owen even argues, "it is unlikely that anyone ever will." Games advocates also "vow the Olympics will be relatively inexpensive." Bob Sweeney, who is spearheading the DC 2024 Olympic initiative, estimates total Olympic costs at $4B-$6B. Underestimating Olympic costs "has almost become an Olympic sport in itself." One recent study found that "every single Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012 experienced cost overruns." As people in cities across the U.S. consider whether to support a local Olympic bid, they "would do well to separate the shimmering assurances of Games boosters from the recent experiences of Olympic host cities." If it is "a feel-good festival of sports that you want, then go for it." But as "we ponder the possible, we ought to be aware of the Games' hidden economic downside" (GUARDIAN, 10/31).
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Olympics, Europe

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