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Olympic boosters have a long history of overpromising and under-delivering. Cities (as opposed to developers and multinational corporations) rarely, if ever, make money from hosting the Olympics. Cities take on significant financial risk by hosting the Olympics. Employment gains, if they exist, are temporary, and public funds are diverted from more productive, socially beneficial uses that would be able to create good-paying, long-term jobs instead. The Olympic Games thus epitomize the all-too-common phenomenon of privatizing profits and socializing losses. 


Select Books


Jules Boykoff, Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games (London: Routledge, 2014).


John Gold and Margaret Gold, Olympic Cities: City Agendas, Planning, and the World’s Games, 1896-2012 (London: Routledge, 2007).


Wolfgang Maennig and Andrew Zimbalist, eds., International Handbook on the Economics of Mega Sporting Events (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2012).


Holger Preuss, The Economics of Staging the Olympics: A Comparison of the Games 1972-2008 (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006).


Christopher Shaw, Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games (Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Press, 2008).


Andrew Zimbalist, Circus Maximus (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2015).



Economics of Boston 2024


Andrew Zimbalist, “A Look at Olympics Budget Points to Cost Overruns,” Boston Globe, January 23, 20115,


Andrew Zimbalist, “Olympic Numbers Don’t Add Up,” Boston Globe, March 20, 2015,


Andrew Zimbalist, "The Hidden Costs of a Boston Olympics," Boston Globe, June 23, 2015,


Andrew Zimbalist, "A Fiscal Faustian Bargain," Harvard Magazine (July/August 2015),




Select News Articles


Tony Manfred, “Nobody Wants to Host the 2022 Olympics—and One Example from a College Professor Tells You Why,” Business Insider, October 16, 2014,


  • “Academics have been saying for years that hosting the Olympics doesn't make economic sense. The costs are typically larger than expected, the infrastructure needed for a big sporting event isn't the same as the infrastructure needed for daily life, and the economic benefits are typically overstated.”


Binyamin Appelbaum, “Does Hosting the Olympics Actually Pay Off?” New York Times, August 5, 2014,


  • “But there is strikingly little evidence that such events increase tourism or draw new investment. Spending lavishly on a short-lived event is, economically speaking, a dubious long-term strategy. Stadiums, which cost a lot and produce minimal economic benefits, are a particularly lousy line of business. (This is why they are usually built by taxpayers rather than by corporations.)”


  • “Similarly, it’s misleading to calculate how much money is spent in a city during the Olympics. A fair comparison requires some estimate of how much would have been spent without them.”


  • Philip Porter, economist at the University of South Florida: “The bottom line is, every time we’ve looked — dozens of scholars, dozens of times — we find no real change in economic activity.”


Daryl Holland, “The Mega Cost of Mega Events,” Voice 10, no. 7 (July/August 2014),


  • Richard Tomlinson, Chair of Urban Planning in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne: “Increasingly, mega-events – the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics – cost much more than the revenue they generate. The last mega-event to post a profit was the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, and in fact LA was the only city that bid for the ’84 Olympics….Normally [in the bidding process] you have to make all these incredible promises in order to get attention, but Los Angeles said ‘actually, we are the only city bidding and consequently these are the conditions under which we’re going to bid.”


  • Jeff Borland, Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne: “Winning an Olympic Games is usually a signal that the bidding country probably bid more than it is going to be worth in strict benefit-cost terms…There is an extraordinary misrepresentation of the anticipated economic benefit, and Australia’s bid for the soccer world cup is a good case in point. I think the Australian government, after it lost, acknowledged that the benefits had been overestimated considerably…There are these global consulting companies that are in the business of calculating – and in my view knowingly misrepresenting – the costs and benefits.”


Cathy Newman, “Olympic Games: Legacy or Money Pit?” National Geographic, February 22, 2014,


  • “A cautionary note: It is not uncommon for the Olympics to be long on promise and short on delivery, not to mention unintended consequences, such as the forlorn remains of stadia left behind like decaying whale carcasses. The Montreal Games in 1976 nearly bankrupted the city and left it with a spectacularly ugly stadium—‘an architectural excrescence,’ a Canadian journalist called it, that was prone to roof collapse from too much snow (yes, it does snow in Montreal). Meanwhile, paint is peeling on Beijing's $423 million Bird's Nest stadium, now a mediocre tourist attraction with an annual upkeep of $11 million.”


“Did London Get an Economic Boost from the 2012 Olympics?” NPR, February 3, 2014,


  • Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College: “Investing in the Olympics is not worth the investment.”


  • Allen Sanderson, University of Chicago: “You build all these facilities that are perfect for the Olympics, that are not really as desirable once the circus leaves town.”


  • Bob von Rekowsky, Fidelity Investments: “You end up with a very indebted city or host nation long after the confetti is cleaned up; someone has to pay the bills for it.”


  • “So [Stefan] Szymanski was the only person with expertise in statistical number crunching who looked at this study before it was published. And he describes it as a ‘political document’ that ignores massive amounts of economic research showing Olympics are almost always unprofitable.”


Nico Hines, “Congrats to Tokyo, Now Meet the Olympics Curse,” Daily Beast, September 7, 2013,


  • “Dr. Allison Stewart, who has conducted exhaustive economic research on the Games since 1960 for Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, said there was no evidence to suggest any Olympics had ever resulted in a positive cost benefit.”


  • Many anecdotes of negligible or negative economic impact on small businesses during London 2012 Olympics


Andrew Zimbalist, “Why Hosting the Olympics is Bad for Cities,” City Lab, July 24, 2012,


  • “The result is what economists call a principal/agent problem. The city (principal) is not properly represented by the local organizing committee (agent). The committee that nominally represents the city really represents itself and bids according to its sense of the private benefit (of its members) versus the private cost, rather than the city's public benefit versus public cost. Since the private cost is diminutive and the private gain extraordinary, the local organizing committees, on behalf of the cities, are bound to overbid, wiping out any modest, potential economic gains.”


  • “The challenge here is that the environment in which the preparations for the Games takes place is not conducive to rational, effective planning. Sports venues and stadiums must be built and infrastructure serving those edifices takes priority. The other challenge is that the budget, initially bloated, only grows over time as construction costs escalate over the ten-year preparation period, bells and whistles are inevitably added, and initial drawings are revealed to be overly optimistic.”


  • “Finally, it would appear that most of the positive developmental functions that could be associated with the Olympics, could also occur absent the Olympics.”


Ashley Heher, “Olympics Aren’t Necessarily Economic Bonanza,” USA Today, October 3, 2009,


  • “A year before the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, experts said the event could generate $5.1 billion for the region. Afterward, some said the actual figure was about 20 percent less, because so many visitors stayed with friends and family instead of booking hotel rooms and dining out….”


  • "Organizers predicted those games would create more than 77,000 jobs. Most studies after the fact showed the new jobs created were less than half that.”


“Olympic Caveats: Host Cities Risk Debt, Scandal,” NPR, October 1, 2009,


  • Robert Barney, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario: “‘There has never been an Olympic Games that has made a profit.’…Fold in all the costs and revenues, he says, ‘including federal allotments, municipal allotments, provincial or state allotments, it's always been that a debt has to be paid somewhere.’”


  • “Actually, tangible economic benefits are elusive. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics are often hailed for finishing with a $233 million surplus. But Barney says the calculation includes only direct costs of staging the games and not the indirect costs provided by city, state and federal governments.”


  • Andrew Rose, Haas School of Business, University of Berkeley: “No reasonable person thinks that the direct benefits of hosting the Olympic Games or any other mega event cover the costs.”


Victor Matheson, “Caught under a Mountain of Olympic Debt,” Boston Globe, August 22, 2008,


  • “Many hosts tout the Olympic Games as an opportunity to put their city on the map as a potential tourist destination. Both the Summer and Winter Games certainly lead to huge increases in name recognition for the host cities, but the fame is fleeting. Travel researchers have documented that Calgary's image as the host of the 1988 Winter Games had begun to fade from memory as early as 1991.”


  • “And, while tourists may flock to host cities after the Games, the surge in visitors also tends to be short-lived. For example, in Sydney, the host of the 2000 Summer Olympics, foreign tourism grew at a slower rate than in the rest of the Australia in the three years after the Games. Lillehammer, Norway, site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, experienced a wave of bankruptcies in the years after its moment in the spotlight, as 40 percent of the full-service hotels in the town went under.”


  • “Expensive infrastructure projects undertaken for the Olympics also generally contribute little to long-run economic growth. While the construction of modern airports, highways, and transit systems are vital for economic development, the specialized sports infrastructure required to host an Olympic Games cannot easily be converted to other uses. The so-called Water Cube, the site of Michael Phelps's golden achievements, is an architectural and technological wonder. But after the closing ceremony, Beijing will have little use for a state-of-the-art swimming facility that seats 17,000.”


  • “Beijing will join good company in wondering what to do with its beautiful but empty venues. Most of the 10 gleaming new stadiums built in South Korea for the 2002 World Cup sit unused today, and Australian economists at Monash University suggest that the "redirection of public money into relatively unproductive infrastructure such as equestrian centers and man-made rapids" has since reduced public consumption by $1.8 billion (in US currency).”



Select Scholarly Articles


Martin Müller, "The Mega-Event Syndrome: Why So Much Goes Wrong in Mega-Event Planning and What to Do About It," Journal of the American Planning Association (May 2015),


Abstract: Mega-events such as the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup have become complex and transformative undertakings over the last 30 years, with costs often exceeding USD $10 billion. These events are currently planned and governed in ways that produce adverse effects for cities, regions, and residents. This study identifies a mega-event syndrome, a group of symptoms that occur together and afflict mega-event planning, including overpromising benefits, underestimating costs, rewriting urban planning priorities to fit the event, using public resources for private interest, and suspending the regular rule of law. I describe each of these symptoms, providing empirical examples from different countries and mega-events, examining the underlying causes. The research is based on material from field visits to mega-event sites in 11 countries as well as 51 interviews with planners, managers, politicians, and consultants involved in mega-event planning.


Allison Stewart, “Knowledge Games: The Achievement of Ignorance in Managing Olympic and Commonwealth Mega-Events,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oxford, 2013,


Abstract: The concept of ignorance has been unfairly stigmatised in research and practice, and consequently has not received the attention it deserves as a powerful motivator of behaviour in organisations. To understand the role of ignorance, it must be examined as a productive force rather than a shameful weakness, an achievement instead of a failure. This thesis develops an understanding of how ignorance is achieved and why it is perpetuated in the context of managing the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, a series of worldwide mega-events that are popular with proponents of urban development, but which have experienced persistent organisational problems in the form of cost overruns, schedule delays, and scope creep. To do so, this research draws on literature about ignorance from the disciplines of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and organisational theory, to motivate an embedded case study of Games Organising Committees (OCs) in six host cities around the world. These OCs, which were actively planning the Games during the research, are studied through qualitative research, to develop a dynamic understanding of the role of ignorance in planning the Games. The findings and analysis are presented from two perspectives: the structure of the ‘Games system’ and of the OC; and, the substance of Games planning in the areas of cost, time and scope. While other studies have focused on ignorance as necessary, strategic, and inadvertent, the original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the proposal of a theoretical framework that focuses on the functional and detrimental outcomes of ignorance. This framework is also shown to be useful in understanding why ignorance persists between organisations, and suggests three basic principles for further research: ignorance as a productive force in management; structure as a scaffold for ignorance; and budget, time and scope as catalysts for ignorance.


Ben Levy and Paul Berger, “On the Financial Advantage of Hosting the Olympics,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 3, no. 1 (January 2013): 11-20,


Abstract: Mega Sporting Events generally are classified as the Olympics, World Cup, and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Championship in Europe. Since the significant positive economic impact of $2.3 billion realized by Los Angeles after the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, the number of bids by cities for these mega sporting events has increased significantly. Also, this success inspired economic evaluations of the Olympic Games to be conducted to better estimate the financial benefit to the host city. Utilizing improved methodologies, as well as superior data, models have found that, in reality, it is more difficult than anticipated to realize an economic benefit from hosting the Olympic Games. We conduct statistical analyses on the financial data for several of the Olympic cities since 1990. We also discuss data available from the British government which estimates the economic outcome of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.


Arne Feddersen and Wolfgang Maenig, “Employment Effects of the Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996 Reconsidered,” International Journal of Sports Finance 8, no. 2 (2013): 95-111,


Abstract: This paper investigates the regional economic impact of the 1996 Olympic Games in Georgia. It questions the findings of Hotchkiss, Moore, and Zobay (2003), who identify significant positive effects of the Olympics on employment in Georgia/USA by first challenging their approach that used a level shift model with no trend inclusion. Second, the original trend regressions are modified to capture spline trend shifts. Third, a nonparametric identification strategy using complex continuous treatment measures extends the original study. After controlling for the two concerns and extending the empirical strategy, this paper is not able to reject the hypothesis that there was no employment boost in Georgia caused by the Olympics.


A related working paper reaffirmed the original study’s finding that the Games had no significant wage effects.


Wolfgang Maennig and Felix Richter, “Exports and Olympic Games: Is There a Signal Effect?” Journal of Sports Economics 13, no. 6 (December 2012): 635-641,


Abstract: A recent study finds that Olympic Games host countries experience significant positive, lasting effects on exports. They interpret their results as an indication that countries use the hosting of such events to signal openness and competitiveness. The authors challenge these empirical findings on the grounds that a comparison of structurally different and nonmatching groups of countries might suffer from a selection bias. The authors demonstrate that with an appropriate matching and treatment methodology, the significant Olympic effect disappears.


Stephen Billings and J. Scott Holladay, “Should Cities Go for the Gold? The Long-Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics,” Economic Inquiry 50, no. 3 (July 2012): 754-772,


Abstract: The Summer Olympics bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and generate upward of $10 billion in spending for the host city. This large influx of tourism dollars is only part of the overall impact of hosting the Olympic Games. In order to host the visitors and sporting events, cities must make sizable investments in infrastructure such as airports, arenas, and highways. Additionally, the publicity and international exposure of a host city may benefit international trade and capital flows. Proponents argue that this investment will pay off through increased economic growth, but research confirming these claims is lacking. This paper examines whether hosting an Olympiad improves a city's long-term growth. In order to control for the self-selection of cities that host Olympic Games, this paper matches Olympic host cities with cities that were finalists for the Olympic Games, but were not selected by the International Olympic Committee. A difference-in-difference estimator examines post-Olympic impacts for host cities between 1950 and 2005. Regression results provide no long-term impacts of hosting an Olympics on two measures of population, real Gross Domestic Product per capita and trade openness.



Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart, “Olympic Proportions: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Olympics 1960-2012,” Saïd Business School Working Papers, University of Oxford, June 2012,


Abstract: We discovered that the Games stand out in two distinct ways compared to other megaprojects: (1) The Games overrun with 100 per cent consistency. No other type of megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overrun. Other project types are typically on budget from time to time, but not the Olympics. (2) With an average cost overrun in real terms of 179 per cent – and 324 per cent in nominal terms – overruns in the Games have historically been significantly larger than for other types of megaprojects, including infrastructure, construction, ICT, and dams. The data thus show that for a city and nation to decide to host the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most financially risky type of megaproject that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.

Robert Baumann, Bryan Engelhardt, and Victor Matheson, “Employment Effects of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah,” Journal of Economics and Statistics 232, no. 3 (May 2012),


Abstract: Local, state, and federal governments, along with the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee, spent $1.9 billion in planning and hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Event promoters suggested that the Games would increase employment in the state by 35,000 job-years. We investigate whether the 2002 Winter Olympics actually increased employment finding that the Games’ impact was a fraction of that claimed by boosters. While the Salt Lake City Olympics did increase employment overall by between 4,000 and 7,000 jobs, these gains were concentrated in the leisure industry, and the Games had little to no effect on employment after 12 months.


Lynn Minnaert, “An Olympic Legacy for all? The Non-infrastructural Outcomes of the Olympic Games for Socially Excluded Groups (Atlanta 1996–Beijing 2008),” Tourism Management 33, no. 2 (April 2012): 361-370,


Abstract: This study examines data from 7 Olympic cities (Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin and Beijing). It shows that the Olympic Games generally bring few benefits for socially excluded groups, although these benefits are often important justifications in the bidding stage.


James Giesecke and John Madden, “Modelling the Economic Impacts of the Sydney Olympics in Retrospect: Game Over for the Bonanza Story?” Economic Papers 30, no. 2 (June 2011): 218-232,


Abstract: Do the large economic benefits predicted for Olympics host countries actually materialise? We re-examine the Sydney 2000 Olympics via historical modelling with a multiregional dynamic computable general equilibrium model, taking care to avoid sources of overestimation, such as elastic factor supply assumptions; failure to treat public inputs as costs; and overestimation of foreign tourism demand impacts. We first conduct a simulation from 1997/1998 to 2005/2006 to construct a base case and to assess the extent of Olympics-induced awareness of Australia on tourism demand. Our historical simulation results which are driven by observed values for economic variables, including tourism statistics, do not provide support for the presence of induced tourism. We then conduct a simulation for a no-Sydney Olympics counterfactual and find that the Olympics generated a real consumption loss of $2.1 billion. We do identify economic winners from the Games and consider the possibility of non-use benefits from the Games offsetting the real consumption loss.



Andrew Zimbalist, “Is It Worth It?” Finance & Development 47, no. 1 (2010): 8-11,;jsessionid=64D9C7D543AC51CD106339A52B598FF8.


Abstract: This article discusses why countries place so much value on hosting the Olympics or similar mega sporting events. Hosting a large sporting event potentially offers both direct and indirect economic benefits. Direct benefits include capital and infrastructure construction related to the event, long-term benefits such as lower transportation costs thanks to an improved road or rail network, and spending by tourists who travel from out of town to attend the games. Indirect benefits may include advertising effects that showcase the host city or country as a potential tourist destination or business location in the future and an increase in civic pride, local sense of community, and the perceived stature of the host city or country. But there is also a potential downside, resulting from possible cost overruns, poor land use, inadequate planning, and underutilized facilities.


Victor Matheson, “Economic Multipliers and Mega-Event Analysis,” International Journal of Sports Finance 4, no. 1 (February 2009): 63-70,


Abstract: Critics of economic impact studies that purport to show that mega-events such as the Olympics bring large benefits to the communities “lucky” enough to host them frequently cite the use of inappropriate multipliers as a primary reason why these impact studies overstate the true economic gains to the hosts of these events. This brief paper shows in a numerical example how mega-events may lead to inflated multipliers and exaggerated claims of economic benefits.


Excerpt: “In estimating economic impacts from mega-events, analysts frequently use multipliers derived from input-output tables based on the normal state of the economy even though the presence of a large temporary tourist attraction such as a World’s Fair, the Olympics, or the World Cup indicates a departure from this normal state. Mega-events are characterized by high utilization rates and increased prices for tourism related industries. While labor may benefit to some extent through increases in hours worked or higher tips, the main recipient of this windfall is likely to be business owners.”



Victor Matheson, “Mega-Events: The Effect of the World’s Biggest Sporting Events on Local, Regional, and National Economies,” in The Business of Sports, vol. 1, eds. Dennis Howard and Brad Humphreys (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2008), 81-99.


Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the economics of sports mega-events as well as a review of the existing literature in the field. The paper describes why boosters’ ex ante estimates of the economic impact of large sporting events tend to exaggerate the net economic benefits of these events and surveys the results of a large number of ex post studies of exploring the true impact of mega-events.


Philip Porter and Debraoh Fletcher, “The Economic Impact of the Olympic Games: Ex Ante Predictions and Ex Poste Reality,” Journal of Sports Management 22, no. 4 (July 2008): 470-86,


Abstract: This article uses data from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to test the predictions of regional input-output models. Real changes associated with these events are insignificant. Nominal measures of demand overstate demand increases and factor price increases absorb the impact of real increases in demand. Nominal changes appear to be limited to hotel prices. Input-output models of a regional economy are often used to predict the impact of short-duration sporting events. Because I-O models assume constant factor prices and technical coefficients between sectors are calibrated from long-run steadystate relations in the regional economy, the predictions greatly overstate the true impact. Because the predictions of these models are increasingly used to justify public subsidies, understanding these deficiencies is crucial.


Robert Baade, “The Economic Impact of Mega Sports Events,” Elgar Companion to the Economics of Sports, eds. Wladimir Andreff and  Stefan Szymanski (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007), 177-182,


Conclusion: “Cities and countries compete intensively for the right to host sports mega-events. The public expenditures necessary to host such competitions are substantial. Those who advocate the use of public funds for such purpose promise an economic windfall in return, and offer economic impact studies to bolster their claims. There are reasons to be skeptical of the evidence offered by boosters, and the purpose of this chapter was to identify the errors and analyze the errors and omissions common to booster economic impact studies. It is hoped that those charged with evaluating public subsidies for elite athletic competitions will benefit from this analysis.”


Jeffrey Owen, “Estimating the Cost and Benefit of Hosting Olympic Games: What Can Beijing Expect from Its 2008 Games?" The Industrial Geographer 3, no. 1 (2005): 1-18,


Abstract: Cities who host the Olympic Games must commit to significant investments in sports venues and other infrastructure. It is commonly assumed that the scale of such an event and the scale of the preparation for it will create large and lasting economic benefits to the host city. Economic impact studies confirm these expectations by forecasting economic benefits in the billions of dollars. Unfortunately these studies are filled with misapplications of economic theory that virtually guarantee their projections will be large. Ex-post studies have consistently found no evidence of positive economic impacts from mega-sporting events even remotely approaching the estimates in economic impact studies. For the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, it appears China will take these massive investments in venues and infrastructure to a new level. If organizers of the Beijing Games base their expectations on economic impact studies from previous Olympics, they are sure to be disappointed. The potential for long term economic benefits from the Beijing Games will depend critically on how well Olympics related investments in venues and infrastructure can be incorporated into the overall economy in the years following the Games.



M. Malfas, B. Theodoraki, and B. Houlihan, “Impacts of the Olympic Games as Megaevents,” Proceedings of the ICE- Municipal Engineer 157, no. 3 (September 2004): 209-220,


Abstract: Mega sporting events can be defined by their impacts and complexity in organisation and delivery. This paper reviews the literature on the features of such events and, drawing particular examples from recent Olympic Games, it identifies the nature and extent of their impacts on the host country and community. These range from the political, social, economical, physical and cultural and can be negative as well as positive. The paper concludes that while the prospect of economic growth is the driving force behind bids for hosting the Olympic Games, the legacies that follow their hosting are difficult to quantify, prone to political interpretation and multifaceted.


R. Burton, “Olympic Games Host City Marketing: An Exploration of Expectations and

Outcomes,” Sports Marketing Quarterly 12, no. 1 (2003): 37-47,;jsessionid=E8F5F0D88FAAC326B211B85B03BD482D.


Abstract: This review examines whether bidding for the privilege of hosting the Olympic games makes strong marketing sense for a city or country. It does so by correlating investments and actual performance of hosting recent Olympic games. The evidence shows that not every city or country achieves a break-even position. The difficulty of justifying the hosting of the Olympic games based solely on a financial return-on-investment analysis is highlighted.


Robert Baade and Victor Matheson, “Bidding for the Olympics: Fool’s Gold?” in Transatlantic Sport, eds.Carlos Barros, Murad Ibrahim, and Stefan Szymanski (London: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2002), 127-51,


Excerpt: "Governments have spent billions to accommodate the Olympic Games in recent times. While the motivations for hosting the Games are complex, those who seek public funding for them use the promise of substantial economic returns to justify public subsidies. Do the Olympic Games represent an extraordinary economic opportunity for nations and cities worthy of significant taxpayer support? The purpose of this chapter is to assess the economic impact of the Olympics and the wisdom of the use of public funds to support them. Particular attention is focused on the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996. The evidence gleaned from the experiences of these two cities indicates that the economic impact was more modest than that projected by those promoting the event in those cities. Economic theory casts doubt on a substantial windfall for the host city from the Olympic Games."


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