Thursday 4 February 2010

Olympic madness

I spoke to Charles, a bus driver, whose good cheer diminished when I asked him about the games. "I just can't believe I wanted this a year ago," he said. "I voted for it in the plebiscite. But now, yes. I'm disillusioned." This disillusion is developing as the financial burden of the Games becomes public.

The original cost estimate was $660 million in public money. It's now at an admitted $6 billion and steadily climbing. An early economic impact statement was that the games could bring in $10 billion. Price Waterhouse Coopers just released their own study showing that the total economic impact will be more like $1 billion. In addition, the Olympic Village came in $100 million over budget and had to be bailed out by the city.
Sports Illustrated on the upcoming Vancouver Olympics.

I really like it when voters get to see the connection between their choices and the consequences, for better or worse. I'd like to know more about who commissioned the early inflated economic impact statement and what fraction of revenues derived from shoddy multiplier estimates and the like.

Here's a good rule of thumb. If some guy in a flashy suit comes to your town trying to sell you a monorail, a new stadium, or the Olympics, give him the bum's rush. Certainly don't give him the chance to sing to the mob. By then, it's too late.

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