By Karolos Grohmann
ATHENS, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – The Olympic Games cost overruns over the past decades have been the result of the International Olympic Committee’s delay in undertaking far-reaching reforms, and it is now paying the price, said lead author of new research from the University of Oxford.
The study, “Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up,” claimed that all the Olympics since 1960 had exceeded their budget by an average of 172%.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are also over budget with nearly $ 13 billion already spent, organizers say, ahead of their costly one-year delay until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent years, many cities have been spooked by the rising cost of hosting the Games, and the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics left only two bidders each after several cities dropped out. .
The 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics were directly awarded to Paris and Los Angeles before a complete overhaul of the bid process by the IOC.
“There is still a long way to go in terms of reform,” Bent Flyvbjerg, professor and director of major program management at Said Business School at the University of Oxford, said in an interview on Tuesday.
“Over a period of about 25 years the IOC hasn’t been able to be more inventive and smarter because it doesn’t pay for the event. So it doesn’t care.”
Host cities take financial responsibility for the organization of the Olympic Games, with the IOC providing over $ 1 billion to the Games budget, among other things.
Host cities are responsible for covering any losses incurred.
“It is now like biting the IOC,” Flyvbjerg said. “They have been slow and reckless on these matters for decades.”
The IOC said it had neither seen the study nor contacted by the authors.
“Researchers (at the University of Oxford) have not requested any type of data from the IOC in recent years, saying they cannot trust the numbers provided by organizers, the IOC or governments,” he said the IOC said in a statement to Reuters.
“This leads to the question of where the numbers used in the study came from and how they were validated.”
The IOC also questioned some of the findings, citing a study by Mainz University and the Sorbonne University that found on the operations side that organizers had achieved balance or made a profit at all. Games over the past 20 years.
“What we can see from the media reports so far is that the study takes a fundamentally flawed approach, mixing up two different budgets: the budget for hosting the Games and the city’s infrastructure budgets. , region and country. “
The IOC has introduced a series of reforms with its “Agenda 2020” and “New Standard” programs, to make the Games cheaper.
“For the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, this will lead to the use of competition venues, 95% of which are already existing or temporary. LA 2028 will only use existing or temporary venues in four unique sports parks spread across the city, highlighting LA’s geographic diversity. ”Said the IOC.
Several countries have expressed interest in hosting the 2032 Olympics, including India, Indonesia, Qatar, Australia and Germany.
For Flyvbjerg, however, these reforms are not enough.
“It is already clear that it is only too little too late. These are not bad ideas but just not effective.”
His study proposed a number of measures, including reduced preparation time by seven years, semi-permanent locations, higher cost contingencies, and an IOC financial link to the event.
“The owners of the concept have no interest in making it efficient because they don’t care about the cost. They set the specs, but someone else foots the bill,” Flyvbjerg said.
“The CIO has to be realistic about the nature of the problems and not deny them. They have to accept them and say, ‘OK, there is a problem. The Games are too expensive. “If you are not willing to say it, you cannot solve it. It.”