Blog Entry


Posted on: August 5, 2009 6:26 am
The 2010 Winter Olympic games are just over six months away from visiting our fair city & region & I would like to make some observations regarding some of the effects as I see them. In their current form the Olympic games require very large amounts of public funds to operate & I have serious concerns as to the benefits that the public gets in return. In the specific case of Vancouver/Whistler, it is estimated that the public funds to be spent will be approximately 5 Billion dollars (900 million for security alone). There is much debate as to what specifically is an Olympic cost , however this amount must be extracted from the working public over the next several years, regardless.

I shall attempt to explore the value of the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics in the contexts  of, the process, global economic conditions, public/private funding, exposure, & individual atheletic accomplishment.

The original cost estimates that the Vancouver/Whistler team provided to the public in a referendum were between 600-900 million dollars, 50% of eligible voters cast a ballot & 64% accepted this as a reasonable cost that would provide an estimated return of 1.2 billion dollars. Obviously the numbers were severely lacking. To suggest that these numbers were presented in a manner that indicated a reasonable return, when a more conservative estimate of both cost & return was more realistic, appears to be the case.

An explanation often put forth for the large gap between the original cost estimations & current state is that no one could predict the global economic chaos that has beset us all, in one degree or another. It would appear to me that any prudent manager of finances, would at a minimum, allow for a worst case scenario , & have a plan to completely remove liability at a point where the value in return was being diminished to a negative posistion? In discussing the homeless situation in Vancouver, the initial monetary cost is often used as a major problem. If the same monetary commitment that is made to the Olympics(no choice..we are commited..cannot change course now), to the state of homelessness, imagine what could be achieved. The point here is commitment . our inability to provide this type of commitment to our social woes will surely leave us with a huge social debt.

Much is made of the contributions of private corporations to the Olympic Games. A local radio/TV personality (who will be a featured TV host during the games), is very quick to heap praise on the private entities who are contributing financially to the games. This personality, is one who was very quick to condemn the use of public funds to support large private corporations (ie banks, auto makers), however is very supportive that Olympic family members receive special status regarding trademarks, & exclusive rights where the free market is concerned. Just a cotton blinking minute....While large corps may be contributing funds, I suspect that they are doing so with an expectation of a handsome return...oh on whose penny is this being funded? I seriously doubt that these corps would or  could  even do such an undertaking without the subsidy provided by the public purse.

The idea that Vancouver & Whistler will reap massive gains from exposure seems an outdated idea, left over from Expo 86. This city & Whistler garner global attention, (largely from Expo 86) on a regular basis, if our local media are  accurate. Vancouver is often rated very highly in surveys that are conducted globally, & when information abilities are considered it would appear that a lack of exposure is NOT a consideration for the region.

While individual achievement is commendable, is it not somewhat ironic that it requires massive support from society at large to make it possible. My country of Canada decided that because of past dismal results in the Olympics, that it would identify individuals that showed the greatest potential for success on the international stage & dedicate the vast majority of financial resources to them, thus excluding many others. The awesome individual moment , possibly great  individual financial rewards, & a bit of national pride. Could this not be achieved in some other way?

In general, my concerns may be broadened to critically examine what, where, when & whom we decide to dedicate our resources to. I have no doubt that many individuals will benefit largely from the 2010 games: however I have doubts as to the value as it relates to society at large. The radio/TV personality that I referenced earlier, has steadfastly held that the benefits are worth the investment. I have NOT heard this person or any other, present a balance sheet that supports this claim. With the global economic situation being what it is, general claims are difficult to match up with hospital & schooll closures, homelessness, job losses etc. I am definitely thinking that while the Olympics have many positive outcomes, can it's present form of public reliance be sustained?

As humans we are first & foremost social beings, & the planet we inhabit is finite , if we ignore our basic social nature & continue to treat this place as an infinite resource, IMHO our future is bleak.



Since: Jun 10, 2008
Posted on: August 22, 2009 4:01 am


Excellent blog B&S. The thought of the aftermath of the OWElimpics is something that definitely keeps me awake at night. The current versions of these games are so far removed from the original idea that there is barely a resemblance between them.

Today's proponents of the games often proudly remark on the amateur ideals upon which the games are based all the while modern OWElimpic participants are often subsidized to the tune of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The original participants didn't even wear clothes let alone require equipment or training costing the ridiculous sums of money spent in this regard as is often the case with the modern version of the OWElimpic games.

Somewhere along the way, the right to host one of these events has turned into a money spending frenzy with each succeeding host seemingly attempting to outdo the previous host and all accountability for such spending is scarcely considered.

What saddens me the most is the fact that incredibly huge sums of money are poured into these events while pressing social issues and real needs of real people are ignored. Small sums required to maintain some of these social orginizations that are denied by governments are but a tiny fraction of the money suddenly found to allocate to the OWElimpic games.

I have been gainfully employed almost every year since the age of twelve and many of those 44 years of toil have not been easy but I have always thought of my fellow human beings and in particular those less fortunate than I, even if the difference was only my will to keep going. There are innumerable reasons for people in horrible circumstances and I have never judged them for it is not my place to do so and have tried to provide assistance wherever possible.

I only wish people in positions of power would see the world and others in a similar light rather than viewing everything through dollar signs.

I agree with you that our future does indeed look bleak. The amazing thing is that most people do NOT see our beautiful planet as finite and therin lies the telling tale. Perhaps if we told those people the world is like their bank account they might see the error of their ways because essentially what they are doing is making withdrawl after withdrawl while NEVER making a deposit.


Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: August 8, 2009 12:36 am


At this point...ONE & DONE. We are into it up to our eye balls, so every effort should be made to achieve success.

What a great QUOTE B&S...  may I please use it with all the NAY sayers............a lot of my friends are leaving the city of Vancouver next Feb. because they don't want to be part of the Olympics???? I'm doing what your quote says.............every effort..........

Nice to have it cool down a bit eh.............lets hope we get rain this Avi is the Okanagan.

Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: August 7, 2009 2:34 am


Thank you for your response Lava.

At this point...ONE & DONE. We are into it up to our eye balls, so every effort should be made to achieve success.

The main point of my thoughts is that; as we as a  society pool our resources in an attempt to achieve common benefits (many of which may only serve specific indivuals) have an expectation that our resources will be assigned based on sociteal priorities . As I noted, it would appear that those on the bid team presented an unrealistic scenario, because they were concerned that the majority of the public would have many other targets. Indeed there was a strong attempt to have the referendum halted.

Unfortunately, our goverenments (regardless of slant) appear to have become a great resource for large corporations & socities ability to change this is very limited. Governments have learned to withstand a brief uproar & forge ahead.

The lack of hard cost/benefit analysis regarding co-sponsored events such as the Olympics is a major concern, I have only heard references that great benefits will follow, with no hard numbers that substantiate such. Should we not ask what other possibilities exist? What is the actual return on our $$? Without a doubt benefits follow but what is the ratio to investment? I know an individual who personally benefitted to the tune of 180K on the not so fast ferries , but we consider that project a major failure.

We all attempt to analize the value of our personal expendatures in terms of priority & return, it appears to me that this type of valuation is a very low priority where Olympian spending is cponcerned.


Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: August 6, 2009 11:02 pm


Using Olympic 'riches' to provide improved social benefits to the host city afterwards is a pipe dream.

Jack Daniels on the Rocks.........

The infrastructure for the Olympic Venues will stand decades past the 2010 games.Vancouver is about to become the first Olympic Host City that has ALL it Venues completed months before the opening cremonies.It takes a life time to re-coup the cost of hosting the Olympics..........Montreal is still paying for 1976.......BUT.........

Atlanta benifited from Corporate Sponsors...........Calgary the same........Lillyhammer was the most successful facilities for future athletes are in place and the venues become renvues for cities and local goverments.Jump ahead five years,people will travel in the winter to Vancouver and use the Speed Skating Oval,use the Curling Rink,go Snow Boarding at Cypress on the new Half Pipe...........and they will stay in Hotels and go to Restaurants and spend money and generate Tax Renvue.

Definitely, but not nearly enough to counter the actual final cost to the public once all is said and doneIt is not going to happen overnight I said it takes Decades.

Black and Silver.......this is a great Blog and your first one.......WELL DONE............I think you can tell I'm all for the 2010 Games.......Bring them on........It is a very expensive party and JD is right ".....only a handful of countries will even bother to host an olympics."............We are hosting the world and thousands of people will come and millions will watch on TV.....and hopefully travel to our beautiful city and come and visit..........Spend there money.......because it will take years (Decades) to pay off.

I am PRO Olympics..........Vancouver 2010.

Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: August 6, 2009 9:27 pm


JD , no misunderstanding on your part at all, in fact your writing skills are superior to mine, as I found your post very succinct. I was just attempting to expand more of my thoughts.

Thank you again.


Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: August 6, 2009 12:01 pm


That was kind of my point if not clearly stated as such, if I am misunderstanding your point I apologize.  The Olympics are sold to the public on the idea that the public will benefit in new facilities and reams of tax dollars that can be used for other things.  Truth is the only real profiteers are corporate sponsors and others such as hotels, restaurants, etc.  Is there an increase in tax revenue? Definitely, but not nearly enough to counter the actual final cost to the public once all is said and done.  The original projected numbers used to sell the idea are never usually close to the final cost, not even the worst case scenarios you mention, therefore a public infrastructure that struggles to maintain even basic facilities anymore (for example in Toronto, where public pools are being closed due to insufficient funding) ends up footing a significantly larger bill they can't afford.  Using Olympic 'riches' to provide improved social benefits to the host city afterwards is a pipe dream.

Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: August 6, 2009 3:09 am


Thank you for taking the time to both, read & reply to my (first ever) blog JD on the rocks. It appears to me that the lack of definition between what are commercial individual ventures & ventures that are designed to benefit society as a whole, are too vague, & as a consequence, any rational debate as to relevance is lost.


Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: August 5, 2009 11:27 pm


The Olympics are a great ideal for which the days are numbered.  The trend is now that every Olympics leave behind a huge public cost very few countries can afford anymore.  You are correct in stating that corporations only support such an ideal when they can see a realistic and tangible benefit coming back their way, which means most if not all of the REAL costs (not to be mistaken with the fictional estimated costs in original budget proposals) ends up on the taxpayers.  It is getting to the point that soon only a handful of countries will even bother trying to host an Olympics, which is really a shame.  Vancouver, like Montreal and many other Olympic host cities, will never recoup those costs.

Similar experiences apply to public funding for sports stadiums in the US - just look at the new Yankee Stadium for a recent example of misuse of public funding.  For all the money that team makes that deal was criminal.  San Diego's stadium is another recent example and the beat goes on in other cities.

Since: Aug 5, 2009
Posted on: August 5, 2009 1:57 pm
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