Ten Debt Sentences


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1972 Winter Olympic Games: Sapporo, Japan These were the first Winter Olympics held outside of Europe and North America, and the Japanese spared no expense in an attempt to impress, spending an astronomical $688 million. The ski runs were scooped out of mountainsides; the men’s slalom course alone required the removal of more than 12,000 cubic metres of rock, most carried out on human backs. Austrian skiing champion Karl Schranz was banned from the Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for accepting money from ski companies. In response, Schranz’s supporters threatened to burn the home and kill the children of Karl-Heinz Klee, president of the Austrian Ski Federation. The Games raised the profile of Sapporo and its annual Snow Festival and helped establish the city as a major conferencing and sporting destination.

The Winter Games will have undeniable benefits for B.C. now and in the years to come. But as Olympics history shows us, the experience isn’t exactly priceless.

You can count on three things being true with the Winter Olympics: the initial cost estimates for staging the Games will be underestimated, the Games will almost certainly lose money and organizers will claim they made a profit. Yet all this appears to be forgotten every four years when a new city hosts the Winter Games, which on a per capita basis actually cost more to put on than their summer equivalent. With that in mind, we examine the money trail from the past 10 Winter Olympics.

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