The Strategist

How much did the Olympics in Pyeongchang cost?

02/13/2018 - 15:41

The Olympics, even the winter one, don’t come cheap, and the competitions in Korea were no exception. According to preliminary estimates, organizers spent $ 12.9 billion, which is twice the amount claimed in 2011. However, compared to Olympic expenses of other countries, the figures fully correspond to the concept of the "cost-effective" competition, which was immediately announced by the organizers.

IOC is worried about the reputation of the Olympics as the ruiners of budgets. Many cities withdraw their requests for holding the Olympics for this reason: only Beijing and Alma-Ata fought for Games-2022, and Paris and Los Angeles were chosen as hosts of the Olympics of 2024 and 2028 without any competition. Not only the very amount of investments, but also their irrationality scare hosts away.

That is why the IOC placed the issue of the legacy of the Games in Pyeongchang in the foreground and asked Korea to decide what would happen to the Olympic facilities in order not to repeat the situation with the Brazilian "white elephants" (the so-called abandoned objects of the Olympics). In Rio, the Olympic village has been turned into condominiums, and 90% of the property have not been sold so far. And the Maracanã stadium, the reconstruction of which before the World Cup in 2014 consumed more than $ 400 million, was left to decay after the Games-2016.

Most of the budget in Pyeongchang went to transport infrastructure. The high-speed railway line from Seoul airport to the Olympic Pyeongchang (and further to Gangneung) made the trip twice as fast (from two and a half hours to 69 minutes) and cost $ 3.7 billion. Transport always requires large investments: construction of new and the reconstruction of the old metro lines cost Rio $ 10 billion and London - $ 3 billion; the new railway lines cost Sochi $ 8.7 billion, and Beijing, preparing for the Games-2022, plans to spend $ 8.95 billion on this article. The Koreans expect that the new high-speed railway line will come in handy not only at the Olympics. They hope that the infrastructure improvement of Pyeongchang will attract more tourists to their ski resorts.

The biggest sporting investment ($ 1.5 billion) was the Alpensia cluster, which accepts biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping and cross-country skiing. And its future is vague.

Trails for cross-country skiing and biathlon are unlikely to be kept. It will be expensive to maintain them, and they will likely be unpopular. The main problem of sports facilities in Pyeongchang is remoteness from high-density cities and the unpopularity of winter sports in the country. At that, Korean officials decided to show how to use the legacy of the Olympics on the example of springboard. The landing platform for springboard jumpers is, in fact, a football field on which the Gangwon-do football club is forced to perform (6th place in the Korean league). However, the quality of the cover after the snow, the uncomfortable location for the fans and expensive tickets make the arena not as attractive as the officials would like.

The future of Gangneung coastal cluster, which holds the ice competitions, is also vague. At that, there are four times more residents than in Pyeongchang (200,000 vs. 50,000).

The organizers plan to destroy a hockey center that cost $ 90 million if it turns out to be unprofitable. And the demolition will cost the same $ 90 million. The skating oval ($ 120 million) will not be used as a training center for athletes: there are not many athletes and Seoul already has one. The officials offered to convert the facility to a congress center, an indoor amusement park, a football field or even a large refrigerator for storing fish produced in the Sea of Japan. But nothing is clear so far.

A new center in Jeongseon-gun county, constructed specifically for high-speed skiing disciplines, will also be demolished after the Olympics. Ecologists complained that many trees, including rare ones, were cut down. It was necessary to do this because the existing resort Yongpyong, where the rest of the skiing disciplines will be held, did not meet the altitude drops prescribed for high-speed descent and supergiant. According to environmentalists, the restoration of the damage caused to nature will cost $ 40 million.