Are the Olympics a Waste of Money?

The debate on whether the Olympic Games are a useful event or merely an extravagant waste of money can be split up into two parts: whether it is worth having Olympics in general and whether it is worth it for an individual country or city to host them. Most experts agree that the Olympics are worth having but that they exert excessive costs on their host cities.

Generally, the worth of the Olympics is not measured in economic terms; rather, the Olympic Games are said to produce intangible benefits, according to Journalist's Resource. For example, holding the Olympics is said to help foster peace and understanding between nations through friendly competition. It also puts an international spotlight on the world's best athletes, which encourages them to push the limits of the human body's capabilities. It is hard to measure these intangible qualities against the economic costs of holding the Olympic Games, but experts and laymen alike tend to believe that the Olympics are worth having on principle.

On the other hand, the economic reality of hosting the Olympics often takes its toll on host cities as the Olympic Games become more extravagant. For example, the Guardian notes that the costs of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi ballooned to $51 billion dollars. Often, the buildings constructed as venues for the Olympic Games are only used for the Olympics themselves, and they soon fall into disrepair. However, the Olympic Games do boost tourism to an area, and one economic study even concluded that hosting a "mega-event" like the Olympics can boost a country's exports by as much as 20 percent. In light of these facts, most experts agree that the Olympics, in their current form, are a wasteful event; however, if they were made less extravagant, their key cultural and economic benefits could be retained without the excessive costs typical today.