Sports Outside the Beltway

Beijing claims profit on Olympic hosting

Organizers say they came out 176 million dollars ahead. From AP-

Beijing Olympic organizers say they made a profit out of hosting last year’s Summer Games.

According to figures released Friday by the government audit bureau, $2.8 billion was spent on organizing and staging the Games, including the Paralympic Summer Games that followed.

That compares to income of $3 billion thus far, leaving a profit of $176 million, the bureau said. The biggest chunk, accounting for 40 percent, came from broadcast and marketing rights, along with sales of tickets, souvenirs, and commemorative coins and stamps.

The organizers claim a profit but did China as whole come out ahead on the games?

The expenditure figures cover only operating expenses, leaving out spending on venues and infrastructure such as airports, roads and subways for the sprawling city of 18 million people.

Ah! Now as the late Paul Harvey said, here is the rest of the story.

According to the bureau, construction and upgrading costs for 36 new Olympic venues and 66 training facilities totaled $2.8 billion. The showpiece “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium alone ran almost $73 million over budget due to design modifications and higher prices for construction materials, coming in at a final cost of $455 million.

Infrastructure costs were met largely by the city governments of Beijing, Shanghai and other cities that hosted events, who together contributed $1.2 billion, and the central government, which kicked in $514 million. Another $146 million came through contributions from Chinese overseas, while the Olympic organizing committee and Education Ministry paid close to $585 million each.

An unidentified auditor quoted in an interview posted on the bureau’s Web site said Beijing’s operating budget was lower, adjusted for inflation, than both the one for the 2004 Athens Summer Games and that forecast for the 2012 London Olympics.

As we know auditors never get anything wrong either deliberately or by accident. If you believe that, I have a story about hard working food inspectors in China to also tell you.

The cost of staging the Olympics is commonly a cause for debate among prospective host cities, but not for Beijing, where the games enjoyed strong support from government, the public and business.

Of course the lack of debate could have something to do with Chinese dissenters being afraid to say anything because they could go to jail for expressing a different opinion.

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