Tokyo Olympics 2021 to Cost More Than $20 Billion!

Tokyo Olympics 2021 cost
Picture by Sicong Li

As history suggests, every Olympics Game is more expensive than the previous one. It not only involves the costs to build and set up the infrastructure for athletes and spectators, but also to ensure robust security (read about Munich massacre below), facilitate transportation and hospitality cost of athletes, and now, establishing Covid-19 protocols throughout the event. The IOC is responsible for the protection of the athletes, the spectators, and all the other support staff from COVID-19 that has drastically escalated the cost of the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

However, the history holds record of Olympic Games where protection of stakeholders’ emerged as a grave concern. One of the most infamous example was the Munich games of 1972 that changed how the Olympic are organized.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics to be a landmark in Gender Equality

The Munich massacre of 1972 

During the Summer Olympics of 1972 held in Munich, West Germany, a Palestinian terrorist group named “Black September”, gained illegal entry into the Olympics Village, by-passing less-than-adept German security, and killed two Israeli athletes, holding nine others hostage. Their demands were the release of around 200 Palestinians held by Israeli Armed Forces in Israeli jails.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict hijacked the Olympics Games in 1972 and left the world flummoxed during the Munich massacre. it was also discovered that German Olympics Committee was tipped off by a Palestinian informant a few weeks before the incident, but failed to act diligently in the matter.

A $26 billion Olympic Games

Incidents like the Munich massacre have often highlighted the loopholes in the organization of one of the biggest events in the world. A fixture of these loopholes often leads to the addition of monetary costs worth millions of dollars. Tokyo Olympics 2021 cost for this year makes it one of the most expensive Olympic Games in history. What makes it more exorbitant is the fact that despite the multi-billion dollars being invested in the Games, the event is still guaranteed to take place.

The Tokyo Olympics was originally scheduled to take place in the July of 2020. Due to the pandemic, it was incessantly postponed, currently decided to be held in July 0f 2021 by the IOC and Tokyo Olympics Committee. This cost a huge sum of money, both to the Olympics Committee as well as the athletes who have to recontinue and extend the training period during lockdown at home.

The problems however stretch beyond the delay.

Fig. Budgeted vs Expected expenses- Tokyo 2021

When Tokyo first won the bid for the 2020 Olympics, initial costs were expected to be around $7.3 billion, but owing to the superseding expenditures on the 43 venues for the games, the total expense is now deemed to be around $26 million. Insufficient planning, use of imported materials for the foundation of a few of the venues together contributed to the fact that not one of the sub-projects was completed within the allotted budget.

You can view the fifth version of the proposed budget released in December of 2020 here.  

Cost incurred in Olympic Games down the years

The title of the most expensive Olympics of all time goes to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, estimated at $51 billion. The most expensive Summer Olympics so far is the $40 billion to stage the 2008 Games in Beijing. It’s looking like the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, postponed until next year, will take third place, next to Beijing at an estimated $25 to $32 billion.

At the other end of the scale, the Tokyo Summer Olympics of 1964 cost just $282 million, while the Innsbruck Winter Olympics of the same year cost just $22 million.

A line item that organizers have included since 2004, a reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 is the spending worth billions now spent to protect the Games from a potential terrorist attack. After 9/11, the cost of security at the Olympics has increased substantially. It is estimated that post-9/11, security measures add between $2 and $5 billion to the cost of hosting the Games.

Since 1960, no Olympic Games have come in under budget with half of them going nearly twice the original expected budget.

Delay causing demotivation among athletes

The real motivator behind the athletic win is the euphoria and excitement that the approaching-games induce among the competitors.

Training 70–80 hours a week is not beyond the realm of reasonable (note, this isn’t always high intensity work, but I’m counting film sessions, therapy for injuries/maintenance, preparation of special foods, etc).

The cost of competing in the actual Olympic Games is borne by your country’s Olympic Organizing Committee and your sports governing body. The largest cost by far is training expenses that include paying for:

  • Coaching
  • Facilities
  • Transportation
  • Food/housing
  • Equipment
  • Yoga and/or Pilates instruction

Training for the Olympics is very expensive and almost impossible for athletes to have a job at the same time. All this together becomes a major cause of demotivation among the participants.

The pandemic is not only taking a toll on the finances of the Olympic committee with a billion added in the cost of the Tokyo Olympics 2021, but the athletes to are facing the financial and motivational drains that don’t seem to end anytime soon.


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