Greece Shows Why the U.S. Should Stop Courting the Olympics
When President Obama traveled to Denmark to try to seal the deal to host the 2016 Olympics in Chicago, his trip was decried by conservatives and his failure to win the Games bemoaned by Democrats. But the Greek financial crisis might give everyone a reason to celebrate his failure.
Victor Matheson of the Sports Economist notes that the price tag for hosting the Olympics — €9 billion, or 5 percent of Greece’s annual GDP — was yet another reason for the Greeks to borrow more than the Maastricht Treaty technically allowed. By 2004, the government deficit was at 7.5 percent, and the big returns expected by its supporters — and, in all likelihood, the government, which needed those returns to pay down the debts they incurred — never materialized. By 2005, when the Greeks enlisted the help of Goldman Sachs to hide some of their debt, Greece’s GDP was at a decade low.
Reports indicate that in the wake of the failure of the Chicago bid, the U.S. Olympic Committee is focusing on bids for the 2022 Winter Games, applications for which will be due in 2013 — less than a year after the next presidential election. Perhaps, if Obama is still president then, he’ll have reason to tell them he won’t be pushing quite as hard for them this time around.