POSTED: June 20th 2013

NEIL WILSON: Cheating on the Olympic numbers

Riots in Rio over price hikes / Adventures of a Gringa
Riots in Rio over price hikes / Adventures of a Gringa

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) On October 2, 2009, the citizens of Rio de Janeiro took to the streets of  their city to party. They were celebrating, along with their compatriots in other Brazilian cities, the awarding of the 2016 Olympic Games.

This week they were back on those streets across the country. This time it was not to party but to protest. One prominent placard said it all when it compared the costs of hosting Riop2016 and the 2014 World Cup with Brazil’s minimum wage.

As with all Olympic Games, costs are rising in Rio. The latest projection puts it at $14.4 billion. That is a rise of $3.3 billion over the projected non-Olympic budget set out in the IOC Evaluation Commission report before the vote.

It may seem a lot but at a little under 30% the rise is miniscule by Olympic standards. London’s non-Olympic budget increased by 152% from its bid claim; Sochi’s has increased so far by 479% and the Games is still eight months away. Only this week the Russian state development bank VEB expressed doubts that it would ever be repaid on $5.2 billion of loans it had made for the Games.

So when the IOC release the Evaluation Report for the 2020 Games on June 25 judge the three cities by any criterion  you choose but not by those for projected financing. You would do just as well on that count to think of the first figure that comes to mind and double it.

Or in Barcelona’s case in 1992 increase it by 417%.  Every Games since 1960 has over-run its original bidding estimate. The average is more than 175%.

The culprits are not the accountants and auditors of bids but those politicians, sporting and federal, who are behind each bid. They want to win. The actual cost seven or eight years down the line will not be paid by them but a different generation of politicos.

So quite deliberately they under-estimate to get the Games, first to persuade their domestic constituents that it is worth-while bidding and then to deceive the IOC voting members that they can organize the Games less expensively than others.

In other words, they are no better than the dopers and gamblers that the IOC has long since declared war on. They cheat.

It matters to their fellow citizens who are blinded to the real costs and, therefore, the value and benefits to hosting a Games. But the irony is that it may not matter a jot to the outcome of the vote in September.

Nobody ever knows how many IOC members read these Reports. We do know that they do not always take notice. London was placed third of five by the 2012 report in 2004. A year later it won.

NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · Rio 2016 · FIFA World Cup 2014 · riots · Olympics

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