ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — The Winter Olympic games may struggle to find host cities in the future, with Russia’s unprecedented spending on the Sochi games proving a success for the county’s image but not for the future of the games themselves.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spent more on the Sochi games than all previous winter game combined, CBS News reports. And the $51 billion price tag of the winter games pales in comparison to the lucrative payoff from the Olympic summer games.
Now experts are saying that the 2022 Winter Olympics host city may become a battle of the last one standing rather than a competition for the highest bidder.
“The experience of Sochi has poisoned the games for other places, because they see that it costs too much to run them and it’s a losing proposition,” Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at New York University tells CBS News. “Remember, the Winter Olympics are only one third the size of the summer Olympics. It gets one third the number of athletes, one third the number of countries.”
Putin’s staggering expenditure on the Sochi games has “destroyed the winter games,” said Moss.
Stockholm, Sweden, first withdrew its bid for the games in January. This past Monday, Krakow, Poland, also withdrew its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics after a weekend referendum reflected that 70 percent of voters opposed the city hosting the games. City officials cited looming bankruptcy if forced to match Russia’s spending on the winter games this year.
Germany, which expressed solid disappointment after losing its bid for the 2018 games, actually withdrew its bid along with the Swiss for the 2022 games earlier this year.
Now there are only four finalists left: Oslo, Lviv, Almaty and Beijing – although at least two of those cities are already experiencing opposition to hosting the games.
Moss says that this year’s World Cup and Olympics in Brazil will likely lead a scaling back of the games by the International Olympic Committee.
“I think after the World Cup this year in Brazil — but more importantly after the Olympics in Rio, we’re going to see the International Olympic Committee being forced to scale back,” says Moss. “There’s now a view that the Olympics are a way in which cities go into bankruptcy, rather than to add to their glamour.”
And for many cities, the short-term benefits don’t outweigh the long-term financial burdens.
“We’ve had too many Olympic facilities which turn out to be used for 17 days and are paid for over 17 years,” said Moss.
The 1996 summer Olympic Games in Atlanta cost $1.8 billion, with $500 million of taxpayer money helping to provide security and transportation for the events. Atlanta used corporate sponsors and ticket sales to actually make a $10 million profit.