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  • Writer's pictureNicole Dragon

2022 Winter Olympics a costly endeavor for Beijing

By Nicole Dragon

Feb. 24, 2022

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Hosting the Olympics has more recently become known to run up a large check for host cities, and Beijing was no exception.

If you watched any outdoor event in the Beijing 2022 Olympics, you may have noticed one thing: the mountains were not blanketed in snow. Typically, the Winter Olympics use a mixture of natural and artificial snow to create the competition trails. However, for the first time in history, the 2022 games used 100% artificial snow.

While indeed expensive, the process was also taxing on the environment. The snow production required an estimated total of 192 million gallons of water and used 300 snow guns as well as 100 snow generators. The total cost for snowmaking was estimated to be $60 million, which is only a small fraction of the $4 billion outlined budget.

Since artificial snow has been utilized to create trails in recent Winter Olympics, it is a predictable cost for host cities. This does not mean that Beijing avoided going far over their initial budget though, as their total expenditures came to an estimated $38.5 billion. Beijing did not account for spending on Covid safety protocols or a new Olympic Village, nor did they include the cost of a $9.2 billion driverless bullet train for the transportation of athletes. They were able to reuse some of the large venues from hosting the 2008 Olympics, but did not properly estimate how much it would cost to transform them. It is not cheap to turn an Olympic swim and dive arena into a curling rink, but it did save them from having to start from scratch.

Beijing plans on releasing the full financial statements from the games six months from now, which will allow us to see exactly how they exceeded their budget and spent almost 10 times more than the initial proposal. For now, we can just look at the data that is available, which shows high costs and low TV viewership.

The Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 still remains the most expensive Olympics to date, spending 50 billion dollars, but Beijing further proves that the Olympics cost more than they are worth.


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