OF MARGINAL INTEREST | An Olympian Feat: the Economics of Hosting the Games
As we speak, college students worldwide pull out their shotskis and ice luge molds in celebration of the most riveting quadrennial exercise in patriotism, team spirit, and demolition of self-worth—the Winter Olympics. This year’s games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a city of 40,000, of which only 35.6% were interested in the Winter Olympics, according to a survey taken last April by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. While the Games have proceeded swimmingly and the drone light show/technical precision/flagbearers (I’m looking at you, Tongan flag man) of the opening ceremony were spectacular, the potential $13 billion price tag for this year’s Olympics has raised some questions, particularly as Rio, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, still faces $40 million in debt. Between Rio and Montreal, which took 30 years to pay off debt from its 1976 Olympic Games, a valid question can be raised: why do countries even want to host the Olympics? And when they do, how does it work out for them economically?