Are the 2022 Winter Olympics the Most Expensive of All Time?

Haleigh Hafner | | OlympicsOlympics
PC: Instagram

In short, the surprising answer to the question: are the 2022 Winter Olympics the most expensive of all time, is no. Russia takes first place for the most expensive Winter Olympics. In 2014, Russia’s planners spent $22 billion on Olympic events, athletes, infrastructure, and more.

The budget for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is $4 billion. While $4 billion may seem like an unfathomable amount of money, this budget is quite small compared to past Olympics. For example, the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics cost $4.14 billion, according to Yahoo Sports. $4.14 billion in 1996 would equate to roughly $7.16 billion today. 

If it cost $7.16 billion to fund the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, how is it possible to spend only $4 billion on the 2022 Olympic Games that will have 109 events and 2,900 athletes participating? 

The Beijing Olympics are actually much smaller than the Atlanta Olympics. In 1996, there were 271 events and 10,318 athletes. Because there were 7,418 more athletes participating in the Olympics in 1996, it is somewhat of a no-brainer to see why China plans to spend $4 billion. 

Another reason why the budget for the Beijing Olympics is so small can be attributed to the fact that Beijing has already hosted an Olympic Games – the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2008, Beijing planners spent roughly half of their $45 billion budget building the infrastructure that still stands today. The fact that Beijing planners simply have to repurpose the old Olympic Stadiums for winter sports will save them loads of money for the 2022 games.  

It is still highly unlikely that the Beijing Olympics planners will stay within the constraints of the budget. According to a study conducted by junior analyst Andreas Nygaard, on average, Olympics spending overruns the set budget by a whopping 170-175%. Once the financial reports from the 2022 Olympics become accessible to the public, it will be interesting to see if planners from Beijing have kept their spending under $4 billion.

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