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TOKYO: Organizers of last year’s COVID-delayed Tokyo Olympics were to estimate the final cost of the Games at 1.42 trillion yen, roughly double what was projected when the IOC awarded them in 2013 .

Tokyo Olympics officials, meeting on Tuesday before the body disbanded at the end of the month, were to detail final numbers, which were boosted by the pandemic but were in a record range long before that.

Calculating costs is difficult due to recent fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dollar and the Japanese yen. When the Olympics opened a year ago, $1 was worth 110 yen. On Monday, 1 dollar bought 135 yen, the highest level of the dollar against the yen for about 25 years.

The fall in the value of the yen means that the cost of the Olympics expressed in dollars is now around $10.5 billion. A year ago, the price was around $13 billion.

Victor Matheson, a sports economist at Holy Cross College who has written extensively on the Olympics, suggested via email to AP that most “expenses and income are in yen, so the exchange rate changing the dollar amounts do not affect how the event “feels” for the organizers.”

In the run-up to the Tokyo Games, organizers have often used the exchange rate of 107. At this rate, the equivalent of 1.42 trillion yen would amount to $13.33 billion as the final prize.

Matheson and fellow American Robert Baade studied Olympic costs and benefits in a study called “Going for Gold: The Economics of the Olympics”.

They write “the damning conclusion is that in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for the host cities; they only lead to positive net benefits in very specific and unusual circumstances.

Accurately tracking Olympic costs — who pays, who benefits, and what the Games are and aren’t spent on — is a moving maze.

Olympic organizers estimated official costs when the Games closed a year ago at $15.4 billion.

Four months later, organizers said costs had fallen to $13.6 billion. They said there was a big saving because no fans were allowed to attend, which reduced security costs, venue maintenance, etc.

However, organizers lost at least $800 million in revenue due to no ticket sales, which the Tokyo Metropolitan Government had to cover.

A 2020 Oxford University study said Tokyo was the most expensive Olympics on record.

There is one undeniable fact: more than half of the costs were paid for by public money — the Tokyo government, the national government and other government entities.

In the few years leading up to the Olympics, government audits revealed that official costs could have been twice as high as expected, meaning the public part of the bill could be well over half.

The International Olympic Committee in its annual report says it contributed about $1.9 billion to cover Tokyo’s costs.

It is impossible to assess the long-term impact of the Tokyo Olympics, especially in a sprawling city like the Japanese capital where change is constant. The pandemic erased any short-term rebound in tourism. Local sponsors, who have paid more than $3 billion to be tied to the Olympics, didn’t seem too happy according to local reports.

Dentsu Inc., the Japanese advertising and public relations giant, may have benefited. He led marketing for Tokyo 2020, received commissions for lining up sponsors and has been linked to an IOC vote-buying scandal linked to Tokyo winning the Games.

The scandal forced the resignation of Tsunekazu Takeda in 2019, an IOC member who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee.

The Games have been hit by other scandals, including the resignation of Yoshiro Mori, the chairman of the organizing committee who made sexist remarks about women. The former Japanese Prime Minister resigned five months before the opening of the Games.

Tokyo had presented itself as a “pair of safe hands” in its bid to secure the Games.

Tokyo will also be remembered as the first Games which were postponed for a year and then played mostly without fans in a so-called bubble.

Perhaps the most important legacy is the $1.4 billion National Stadium designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

“The goal should be for hosting costs to be offset by shared benefits so as to include ordinary citizens who fund the event through their taxes,” Matheson and Baade wrote. “Under the current arrangement, it’s often much easier for the athletes to get gold than for the hosts.”


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