Hosting the Winter Olympics: Profitable or a Money Pit?

Katy Shipley | | OlympicsOlympicsFeatured ArticleFeatured Article
Olympics Pyeongchang
The Phoenix Snow Park at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Image: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP

During last week’s debrief of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, the President of the Organizing Committee, Lee Hee-Beom, declared PyeongChang 2018 a success.  Lee predicts Beijing will break even or make a profit in 2022.

“I was pleased to say that PyeongChang 2018 can already announce a multimillion-dollar surplus,” President Lee said. “It seems that Beijing will continue with this trend of Games that break even, or, as in the case of PyeongChang, make a profit.”

The next Olympic Games will be held in Beijing in 2022.  Beijing will be the first city to fully benefit from the new Olympic Agenda 2020.  They plan to stage games that will provide economic and social benefits to the region for decades to come.  Sustainability, flexibility and efficiency are the themes of the Olympic Agenda 2020.  Beijing will incorporate pre-existing venues from the 2008 Summer Olympics when preparing for the 2022 games.

Olympics Beijing
The National Aquatics Center, also known as the “Water Cube,” was the Olympics venue for swimming events in Beijing 2008. Image: WAMC

The iconic “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium will be used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in 2022.  The Water Cube will be the curling venue and the Capital Indoor Stadium will host figure skating and short track skating events.  The National Indoor Stadium and Wukesong Sports Center will host the ice hockey events.  The re-use of these venues embodies the themes of the Olympic Agenda 2020 and will help Beijing to host a profitable Winter Olympics.

While Beijing plans their Olympic success, other countries are not convinced.  Voters in Sion, Switzerland rejected the 2026 bid for hosting the Winter Olympics.  According to Around the Rings, this is the fourth time in 10 years that the Swiss bid has failed. Jürg Stahl, the Sion 2026 chair and the president of Swiss Olympic, expressed his disappointment with the vote.

“We respect the choice of the people of the Canton of Valais, even though this refusal is painful for all those who worked tirelessly to develop an Olympic Games’ project focused on sustainable development, with a strong social and ethical commitment, fully in line with the IOC’s Agenda 2020″

Olympics Switzerland
Sion, Switzerland rejects the 2026 Olympic bid. “3 Weeks of Celebration. 30 Years of Debt”. Image: Chicago Tribune


Hopefully the IOC’s Agenda 2020 will prove successful and convince other countries that hosting the Olympics can be profitable.  Six countries remain in 2026 contention, including Italy, Austria, Sweden, Turkey, Canada, and Japan.  The International Olympic Committee members will make their final decision in September 2019.

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