As speculation mounts of a possible Toronto bid for the 2024 Olympics, here is something to keep in mind: Hosting the Games is a multibillion-dollar undertaking that always costs more than planned. Back in 2012, two researchers at the University of Oxford found that every Olympics dating back to 1960 went over budget – and rarely by slim margins. The average cost overrun in real terms was 179 per cent. For Summer Olympics, the average cost overrun was even greater, at 252 per cent.
Here is what the previous five Summer Games cost:
And here is the cost overrun for each of those Summer Olympics:
It should be noted that the Oxford researchers focused on "sports-related" costs in their paper. The full cost of hosting an Olympics is generally far steeper. While Bejing's sports-related costs were $5.5-billion (U.S.), the final tally is widely thought to be in excess of $40-billion. Costly infrastructure projects are often needed to get a host city prepped for its time in the limelight.
For instance, at the last Olympics in Russia, a link was needed between Sochi and the mountain resort where ski and snowboard events were held. The resulting 50-kilometre road and rail project cost $8.7-billion. The final price tag for the Sochi Olympics is widely thought to be greater than $50-billion, making it easily the most expensive Games to date.
Canada has its own checkered history with the Olympics, occupying opposite ends of the cost-overrun spectrum. Sports-related costs at the Vancouver Olympics were 17 per cent more than planned, the smallest cost overrun for a Winter Games dating back to 1960, according to the Oxford researchers. At the other end, there's the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Its cost overrun was a whopping 796 per cent, the largest for any Games.
*The working paper was released just before the London Olympics. As such, projected final costs are used for those Games.