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Will Japan See Long-Term Benefit from Hosting the 2020 Olympics? Nope

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Citing an Oxford University study, Zimbalist said on average, the Summer Games since 1980 has averaged a 252 percent cost overrun — or 3.5 times the initial budget — and that Tokyo is not expected to be an exception.

reports: Tokyo will not benefit long term from hosting the 2020 Olympics — contrary to the hopes and prayers of a nation — sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said Wednesday.

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“At the end of day, the best way to have a good experience with hosting the Olympics is to not host them. And if you are going to host the Olympics, then what’s really necessary is to do what Barcelona did and not what virtually every other city does.”

— Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist

“I’d be really surprised,” Smith College professor Zimbalist said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, when asked if the Tokyo Games would be a success. “You don’t have any of the ingredients for that.”

“At the end of day, the best way to have a good experience with hosting the Olympics is to not host them. And if you are going to host the Olympics, then what’s really necessary is to do what Barcelona did and not what virtually every other city does.”

“In Barcelona, the plan (to develop the city) came first and the Olympics was fit into the plan, rather than there being no plan and the (International Olympic Committee) coming in and the city fitting itself into the IOC’s demands.”

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Zimbalist, author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup,” was a chief critic of Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid and an adviser to the “No Boston Olympics” activist group. The Boston bid was pulled after failing to gather enough public support.

Citing an Oxford University study, Zimbalist said on average, the Summer Games since 1980 has averaged a 252 percent cost overrun — or 3.5 times the initial budget — and that Tokyo is not expected to be an exception.

The latest figure of the overall budget published by the 2020 organizing committee is at ¥1,385 billion or more than $12 billion, although the IOC believes additional cuts can be made.

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Zimbalist, however, said the number-crunching done by the IOC is not to be trusted at face value, describing Olympic accounting as “fungible” and “manipulatable.” The final budget for last year’s Olympics exceeded $20 billion, more than threefold the initial estimates.

The IOC’s exorbitant demands on a host city — particularly in construction — are simply too taxing, he said.

“People can make the budget go way up or down by deciding what to include in the budget,” Zimbalist said.

“According to the statistics the Tokyo 2020 committee is sharing publicly, the initial bid was $5.6 billion and right now they’re reporting $12.6 billion so we already know that they’re more than double right there.”

“I would, if I wanted to understand the cost overrun potential, want to take a very close look at the report that was done by the task force created by the Tokyo governor because again, they were projecting a cost of $27.1 billion. That’s a heck of a lot higher than $12.6 billion.”

Zimbalist said the IOC recognizes it has a problem on its hands, but the attempt at reform has been “superficial” in his eyes … (read more)

via The Japan Times

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