Sport Tokyo closes books on delayed Olympic Games that cost $19.1 billion
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Tokyo closes books on delayed Olympic Games that cost $19.1 billion

Tokyo organisers have closed the books on the most costly Olympic Games ever. Photo: EPA
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Organisers of last year’s COVID-delayed Tokyo Olympics were expected to place the final cost of the Games at $19.1 billion, about twice what was forecast when the IOC awarded the event in 2013.

Tokyo Olympic officials, meeting on Tuesday before the body dissolves at the end of the month, were to detail final numbers which were increased by the pandemic, but were in record range long before that.

Calculating the costs is challenging because of recent fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dollar and the Japanese yen.

When the Olympics opened a year ago, $1 bought 110 yen.

On Monday, $1 bought 135 yen, the dollar’s highest level against the yen in about 25 years.

Accurately tracking Olympic costs – who pays, who benefits and what are and are not Games’ expenses – is a moving maze.

Olympic organisers estimated the official costs when the Games closed a year ago at $15.4 billion ($22.4 billion).

Four months later, organisers said the costs had fallen to $13.6 billion ($19.4 billion).

They said there had been a large saving because no fans were allowed to attend, dropping security costs, venue maintenance and so forth.

However, organisers lost at least $800 million ($1.14 billion) in income from a lack of ticket sales, which fell to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to cover.

A University of Oxford study in 2020 said Tokyo was the most expensive Olympics on record.

There is one undeniable fact: More than half of the costs were paid for by public money – Tokyo’s government, the national government and other government entities.

In the several years prior to the Olympics, government audits found official costs might have been twice as much as stated, meaning the public portion of the bill might be far more than half.

The International Olympic Committee in its annual report says it contributed about $1.9 billion ($2.7 billion) to cover Tokyo costs.

Tokyo had billed itself as a “safe pair of hands” in its bid to get the Games.

Tokyo will also be remembered as the first Games that were postponed for a year, and then held mostly without fans in a so-called bubble.

The most important legacy is surely to be the $1.4 billion ($2 billion) National Stadium designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

-AP