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Progressive politics, ideas & culture

January-February 2010

Olympic Countdown: Adding up the real costs of Vancouver 2010

Jasmine Rezaee

Quebec spent 30 years paying off the debt it racked up for the 1976 Montreal Summer Games. There’s no reason so far to expect that Vancouver will be any different. British Columbian and Canadian taxpayers have already incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in rampant budget overruns—the Athlete’s Village and security budget are only two prime examples.

The problem with the official budget is that it excludes Olympics-related infrastructure costs, like the Sea-to-Sky Highway, despite the fact that the Games are the only reason that money’s being spent.

If we include infrastructure and other Olympics-related costs, the total bill for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics is at least $9.2 billion—although no one will know the final bill, realistically, until the games are long past. VANOC intends to recoup some of their costs selling off the Athlete’s Village after the Games end—but the recession and subsequent tanking of Vancouver’s real estate market makes that plan increasingly dubious.

Here’s our independent tally of the real cost of Vancouver 2010:

Bid budget $34,000,000
Security $900,000,000
Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion $1,980,000,000
Canada Line construction $1,900,000,000
Venue construction $580,000,000
Cypress Bowl ski facility upgrade $16,600,000
Athlete’s Village construction $1,080,000,000
Opening ceremonies $58,500,000
VANOC operating budget $1,750,000,000
Hillcrest/Nat Baily Stadium Park $40,000,000
Vancouver Convention Centre expansion $883,000,000
Event tickets for provincial MLAs and cabinet ministers $1,000,000
TOTAL $9,223,100,000
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