Last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were expensive. Like, 13.1-billion-dollars-expensive.
The Olympics are always expensive, but Rio supposedly went $1.6 billion over-budget to boot.
Despite the tab, Rio still hosted a pretty good Games, even while suffering under a horrible recession and endemic political corruption that has put the former governor of Rio de Janeiro in prison, with other criminal cases still pending.
The IOC, which claims to have already contributed $1.53 billion to the Rio Games, said Sunday at a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, that it had “closed all its obligations with the organizing committee.”
Per contracts signed by the IOC and Olympic hosts, the cities that put on the Games are required to pay the debts incurred to host. However, Rio 2016 has fallen unabashedly short of meeting the requirements laid out in the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020.
Agreed upon in December of 2014, it is difficult to make a case that the IOC is being hypocritical by not assisting Rio further as the reforms within the Olympic Agenda 2020 are not supposed to manifest until the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. The bids put forth by Los Angeles and Paris to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games–arguably the two most economically and socially-progressive bids ever drafted–have drawn heavy influence from the Olympic Agenda 2020 document. However, the Olympic brand and the IOC are in the midst of a crisis-of-character, especially now that the first South American host of an Olympic Games finds itself in economic ruin less than a year since the flame went out.
Before the Games began last summer, Rio was scrambling to pay down the mounting costs of hosting. To pay creditors that footed the bills for various infrastructure projects required to host the Olympics, local governments throughout the state of Rio de Janeiro diverted money intended for police and firefighter salaries, causing the infamous “welcome-to-hell” protests some athletes and spectators were greeted with when they stepped off the plane last summer.
The IOC further claimed “an exceptional effort to significant cost savings and additional financial undertakings by all the Olympic stakeholders, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars.”
With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, less than seven months away, and a final decision for the host of the 2024–and most likely 2028–Summer Games coming up in September, the IOC desperately wants to move on from Rio. Unfortunately, Rio 2016 organizers and bystanders alike feel they are owed more for their troubles, and are likely to keep hounding the IOC to increase its accountability, financially and otherwise.