The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Olympic games are today. I wrote a short article for the July/August issue of Foreign Policy on some of the financial aspects of the Olympic Games. Among the highlights ...
- the IOC took in over $4.2 billion in the Salt Lake/Athens cycle, mostly from broadcast rights and sponsorship, and keeps an increasing share of the revenues;
- you really have to pay to play the Olympic hosting game: unsuccessful bids to host the games typically cost from $22 million to almost $50 million;
- the cost over-runs in host countries are huge; and
- although it didn't make it into the article, the IOC is a bloated bureaucracy with no oversight. As recently as 1964, the IOC employed 5 full time staff; in 2000 there were 113.
You have to hand it to them, the IOC has a world class rent extraction scheme going.