The Olympics Are Too Expensive

I don’t understand the Olympics.  I know that it’s great for athletes and their supporters, and I am told it encourages children to participate in sports, and I know millions of people enjoy watching the events on TV, but aside from all that, can anyone really afford it?


I just read an article in the Edmonton Journal that describes the debate over Calgary’s bid for the winter 2026 Olympics, and the numbers are astounding.

“The city agrees to pay $370 million in cash (a total first revealed here on Saturday) plus $150 million in shared obligation with the province for Victoria Park and Stampede improvements. The city will also supply an insurance redemption of $200 million.

The province stuck to its $700 million pledge. And the feds will supply $1.423 billion in 2018 dollars, not $1.75 billion in 2016 dollars, as they said as recently as last Friday.

The total package lowers the overall public funding of the bid from $3 billion to $2.875 billion. And Ottawa can still say its dollar-for-dollar funding policy applies.”

It’s ALL public funding! Whether it’s the city, the province, or the federal purse, it’s still public money. And, these are huge numbers. When we have a growing homeless problem and reduced funding for schools and hospitals, I just don’t think we can afford it.

Oh, I know they are going to improve existing facilities and maybe provide some new infrastructure, but is this really the best way to do those things? Do we have to invite the Olympics in order to make those things happen, especially when we know it’s going to cost a whole lot more in the end than they are telling us now?


I feel as though we are throwing a big party for the kids when the adults have had to cut back their hours at work. It does not make sense. Do the Olympics have to be so big and all at once in one place? Why don’t they divide it up and spread it around among a number of cities, or even a number of countries? We don’t have to have the luge in the same place at the same time as we have downhill skiing.

I guess I have just joined the curmudgeons and become like Grampa on The Simpsons who writes to the newspaper when he gets upset. And this blog post is like one of his stories. It goes nowhere.







      • Maybe with the wider TV audience there is profit to be made?
        I know in 2010 it cost South Africa an absolute fortune to host. One stadium was over 4 billion to build.
        I don’t know if final figures were ever publicized – they probably were, but I usually steer clear of ”News”.

        • That seems to be the main source of revenue. I was living in Calgary in 1988 when they had the winter Olympics there and the whole city was excited about it and volunteered in various ways. But even then, ticket prices for the events were out of reach for most people. It seems to be designed to draw in tourist dollars.

  1. “And this blog post is like one of his stories. It goes nowhere.” I beg to differ! I think you made your point quite well — and I certainly echoed your harumphing when the Super Bowl came to the Twin Cities last winter (in the brand-new stadium my tax dollars helped build). Hopefully the tourists will at least arrive with fat wallets and give the local economy a boost, though. Sigh.

  2. I often feel I live in a culture that has different priorities than mine. I have not found any angle that will help change the culture-at-large. I will let you know when I do! But for now, I just hang around folks who have similar priorities as mine, and not think about those huge football coliseums. I mean stadiums.

    • As you can probably tell, I am not a sports fan, but even if I were I don’t think I could justify so much money being spent on sports facilities when there are much more pressing needs. As it turns out, the citizens of Calgary voted against the bid for the Olympics, so I guess I am not alone in this.

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