Who actually pays for the (very expensive) cost of the Olympics?

Opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics will soon be underway on Friday, February 9th on NBC. Held every four years, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will be held at Pyeongchang, South Korea. Showcasing sports like figure skating, ice hockey, and snowboarding, the Winter Olympics focuses on snow and ice-related sports. According to CNN, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will cost an estimated $10 billion, which is less than the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia that cost an estimated $50 billion. Sochi was estimated to be the costliest event ever.

So, who actually pays for the astronomical cost of the Olympics?

According to financial website Investopedia, taxpayers of the host city and the International Olympic Committee play integral financial roles for the Olympics.

Boston notably opted out of the 2024 Olympic bid due to the financial accountability that locals would have to take on. So, in this case, taxpayers of Pyeongchang would be footing some of the bill alongside the International Olympic Committee. Taxpayers generally cover cost of stadium developments, security, and other aspects pertaining to the facilities.

Of the IOC’s financial footing, Investopedia writes:

“The committee only retains 10% of its funding and disburses the other 90% to the Olympic games and to support the worldwide Olympian movement. This funding includes monies for national Olympic committees and financial support so every country can compete.

Host cities of the Olympics can often face severe debt due after the games. Following the 2016 Summer Rio Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has accrued an estimated $35-40 million in debt. And ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the rising financial cost is already a source of anxiety. South Korean news outlet PC2018 recently published a piece on cost burdens placed on Pyeongchang’s Gangwon province, which has been struggling with financials for facilities being built for the Olympics. According to PC2018, Gangwon has spent “more than 1.68 trillion won ($1.5 billion)” on a ski resort, and has yet to build eight more facilities as well as roads. PC2018 writes:

“The Gangwon provincial council and the county councils of Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon recently issued a joint statement threatening to give up the rights to host the Olympics if the central government doesn’t commit to more financial support.

According to PC2018,  the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism expects the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics to exceed $10 billion.