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The Olympic-Sized Costs of the Olympic Games

January 30, 2014

Financial Graphs & ChartsThe Olympics spectacle can light up smiles, but the costs involved can make jaws drop.
At $40 billion, China’s 2008 Olympics in Beijing is believed to be the most expensive Olympics in history. The price tag for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is expected to top that. Originally, costs for Sochi were estimated at $12 billion. According to NBC News, the tab is now forecasted to reach $50 billion.

Talk about going for the gold!

Staging and delivering the Olympics may be a costly endeavor for host cities, but additional revenue is brought in from tourism surrounding the event. Here are some interesting facts about money outlays related to the Games:

The gold standard: A gold medal won by African-American track star Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Germany, during a time when Nazism was prevalent, was sold in Dec. 2013 for $1.4 million. That’s believed to be the highest price for a piece of Olympic memorabilia, according to the Associated Press. Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team co-owner Ron Burkle bought the historic medal in an online auction. Owens had won four gold medals at the ’36 Olympics, but the specific event for which he won the auctioned medal could not be identified.

Compensating the Olympians: Olympic athletes can be either amateurs or professionals, depending on the rules of the Olympic committee of each country, and so the way that athletes can receive compensation for representing their country varies. The big payments are tied to winning medals. For example, the U.S. pays an athlete an honorarium of $25,000 for winning a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver medal and $10,000 for a bronze. For Russian athletes, gold medals are worth $135,000. Singapore offers athletes $800,000 for winning a gold medal. Meanwhile, Britain doesn’t pay its athletes anything for winning a medal – it simply puts the athlete’s face on a postage stamp.

Souvenir mania: If you travel to the Sochi Olympics, you may want a souvenir to commemorate your trip whether an “official” or “unofficial” souvenir. Unofficial keepsakes can be anything that reminds you of the event, such as postcards, matchbooks, coasters and the like. The International Olympic Committee licenses “Official” souvenirs, which vary in price depending on where you buy them. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, a stuffed mascot licensed by the committee cost about $15 at one store and as much as three times that amount elsewhere. For the Sochi games, a stuffed polar bear mascot is already available on the Internet for $24.99.

Welcome to Sochi: More than 42,000 hotel rooms are projected to be available for travelers to the 2014 Olympics, according to The New York Times. Many accommodations are being built especially for the hordes of spectators expected to descend on this Russian resort. How much a visitor can expect to spend for lodging and dining can run the gamut. The cost of a taxi ride from the Sochi/Adler International Airport to your hotel, according to the airport’s website, typically runs about 500 rubles (or $20). Taxi rates in Sochi are negotiated with the driver.

Are the costs associated with the Olympics higher or lower than you would have expected? Share your “Comments” with us, below.

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