Ten Debt Sentences

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.

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

1976 Winter Olympic Games: Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck became the site for the 1976 Games after the citizens of Denver, the original bid-winner, voted in a 1972 public referendum against playing host.
Instead of extravagance, the Austrians opted for mo

1980 Winter Olympic Games: Lake Placid, USA
Placid chose the slogan Welcome World, We’re Ready, but the tiny resort town (population 2,800) was anything but prepared. Because there were only 5,600 beds, the 50,000 daily visitors had to find accommo

1984 Winter Olympic Games: Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia
Socialist Yugoslavia wanted to host the Games for capitalist reasons:to transform the Sarajevo region into a winter sports destination and boost tourism. At the time, Yugoslavia was beset with an inf

1988 Winter Olympic Games: Calgary, Canada
Calgary’s entrepreneurial approach, which supposedly resulted in a $150-million operating profit, is often cited as an example of how to stage a financially successful Winter Games. However, a 1999 investi

1992 Winter Olympic Games: Albertville, France
Albertville landed the Games hoping to revitalize an ailing economy and stimulate flagging tourism in the French Savoy Alps. Because all the various municipalities in the region wanted a piece of the action,

1994 Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer, Norway
The Norwegians confounded skeptics by staging a successful Winter Olympics in a sleepy town of 23,000 inhabitants that had virtually no major sports supply businesses, facilities or infrastructure.
These we

1998 Winter Olympic Games: Nagano, Japan
Dark rumours swirled as to why Nagano, a city of garish urban sprawl, with no airport and at the same latitude as Algiers, won the Games. The Nagano Olympic Committee spent $800 million on sports facilities, inclu

2002 Winter Olympic Games: Salt Lake City, USA
Before the Games, the leaders of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee had to resign after being accused of spending millions of dollars to improperly influence the votes of 14 IOC members. The pay

2006 Winter Olympic Games: Turin, Italy
Turin hoped the Games would revitalize a sagging local economy that had been devastated by the collapse of the Fiat empire.
The lead-up to the Olympics was a litany of monetary headaches, construction gaffes, poli

2010 Winter Olympic Games: Vancouver, Canada

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.