While Beijing appears to be ready to secure the Winter Olympics with all the power it has in hand, the billing for this sports event will not be small.
The spreading COVID-19 pandemic and Omicron variant have constantly disturbed the Chinese regimes’ thorough preparation.
Unlike many other governments who quickly abandoned their zero-tolerance policies with the Delta variant, a top transmissive coronavirus strain before the Omicron, China remained loyal to its hardline measures.
Beijing has stopped selling tickets for the Olympics to the public and instead gives invitations to designated individuals. Unfortunately, this means the Chinese regime is forgoing the revenue that tickets should have brought about.
According to AFP, ticket sales were initially estimated to be worth $118 million by the organizing committee. That estimation, however, did not take into account the loss from overseas spectators when China said last year that it was barring them because of complications with COVID-19 safety procedures.
In 2015, China initially planned to spend just $3 million on organizing and building sports facilities for the Games. However, that budget did not consider the expenses for new infrastructures, such as a high-speed rail line between Beijing and the ski slopes.
But even before that, experts said the price for hosting the mega-event often tends to swell to twice its original size between the award date and the opening ceremony.
Wladimir Andreff, a specialist in sports economics from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, said that bidders for the Games often “systematically underestimate the costs and overestimate the profits.”
He called it a curse for bid winners of the Olympics, “Whoever wins them gets screwed.”
Andreff believed Beijing would undoubtedly face some shortfall as it both excluded international fans and is battling with COVID-19.
It was unclear how much Beijing would have to spend to secure the Winter Olympics through recent outbreaks, but it may not be small.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed a year, cost Japan more than $15 billion. It was a significant increase over the original $7 billion estimations.
Would it be worth it?
Matthieu Llorca, a lecturer at the University of Burgundy, said that China could still declare that the Winter Olympics is successful and not that costly. He explained that some costs would be characterized as being incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, not by the Games.
But Llorca viewed that money was not what China wanted from the Olympics.
He said, “They don’t look at how much it will cost. They will look at the image of the country.”