(FILES) This file photo taken on February 12, 2014 shows the Olympic flag fluttering near the Cauldron at the Olympic Park during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping left international sports leaders divided on July 25,2016, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DE
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 12, 2014 shows the Olympic flag fluttering near the Cauldron at the Olympic Park during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping left international sports leaders divided on July 25,2016, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DE

$160 million tragedy is Olympics’ ‘end throes’

THE Rio Olympics' debts have spiralled out to more than $159 million, almost three years since the Olympic flame was extinguished at the Maracana Stadium.

In yet another body blow warning for any global city considering bidding to host the world's most prestigious sporting event, a report from Brazil claims the Rio Organising Committee's debts have grown by 300 per cent from the initial debt forecasts immediately after the 2016 Games.

A Jornal Noroeste report claims the Games' total debts have tripled to more than $US113 million - just two years after the committee estimated outstanding debts of $US32 million.

The Games still has outstanding debts with a number of construction companies responsible for some of the temporary stadia and facilities used during the two week event.

Other Olympic related agencies are also reportedly among the creditors, including the Brazilian Olympic Committee, which is owed more than $5 million by its associated committee.

The show went on.
The show went on.

The Organising Committee's debts have continued to spiral out of control in the past 12 months since it was first forced to appeal to the Brazilian Government and to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for financial assistance in settling its debts.

The IOC last year knocked back the Rio Organising Committee's request for financial aid. Contractually, host cities and countries are obligated to pay Olympic debts.

The Associated Press recently assessed the total cost of the Rio Games to be more than $US13 billion - with the IOC providing just $1.5 billion in funding.

The Rio Olympics were battered by organisational problems and variable attendance, while the country faced a series of corruption scandals and the worst recession in decades.

Some infrastructure built for the Olympics has found uses - a subway line, a renovated port, and high-speed bus lines. But sporting venues are mostly vacant, a $20 million Olympic golf course is struggling to find players, and fewer than 10% of the apartments in the 3,600-unit Athletes Village are reported to have found buyers.

It comes after staggeringly dilapidated Olympic sites shocked the world less than 12 months after the Games had concluded.

Last year reports emerged the Organising Committee was trying to settle some of its debts by offering its creditors building materials, including power units, air conditioners and electrical cables, when unable to meet its deadlines.

The same report claimed the Rio Games hoped to be completely disbanded by April, 2017. Almost two years later the Committee reportedly maintains a staff of seven full time employees.

 

Performers for the Rio de Janerio 2016 Olympics segment walked across the stage during the Closing Ceremony.
Performers for the Rio de Janerio 2016 Olympics segment walked across the stage during the Closing Ceremony.

The majority of the staff have been kept on to help deal with the ongoing financial and legal crisis.

According to Inside the Games, the Committee is also fighting more than 600 law suits stemming from its Olympic facility preparations and unpaid debts.

The report claims the Committee is juggling 258 civil lawsuits and 325 labour lawsuits.

It is another damning warning for future Olympic host cities Tokyo (2020), Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028).

Tokyo Games officials are already facing a crisis in preparation costs - with the latest budget estimates showing the Japanese Olympics will be the most expensive Games in history.

A Board of Audit report from Japan estimates total spending for the Tokyo Olympics is up to just under $US25 billion.

When Tokyo won the bid to host the Games in 2013, hosting costs were projected at $7.3 billion.

That has been blown out of the water by the latest budget estimates.

It is not hard to see why the Olympics is at breaking point for attracting host cities capable of affording the right to host sport's greatest spectacle.

Hamburg, Rome, Boston and Budapest all dropped out of 2024 bidding recently as a result of outcry from local residents protesting the public money that would need to be diverted to Olympic costs.

The Winter Olympics has faced similar storms.

There were just two bids for the right to host the 2026 Winter Games - a joint bid between Stockholm and Sweden, and a bid from Milan in Italy.

Calgary, Canada, withdrew its bid for the 2026 Games as a result of protests from angry citizens.

The IOC was left in a similar spot for the 2022 Winter Olympics when numerous bidders withdrew. Only two unlikely cities expressed final interest, with Beijing winning narrowly in an IOC vote over Almtay, Kazakhstan.

American sports writer Dvora Meyers summed up the ongoing Olympics crisis by declaring: "It feels like we're in the end throes of the Olympics".

- with AP



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