Countries Saying No To The Olympics?

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Saying No To The Olympics?

The Olympic Games are a time-honored tradition dating back to the ancient Greeks. Countries worldwide compete every four years to host the games with the hope of bringing glory and tourism dollars to their shores. But not every country is eager to host the Olympics.

For various reasons, some have withdrawn their bids or refused to host the games altogether. Here’s a look at the reasons why countries say no to hosting the Olympics.

1) Massive Cost

The estimated cost to host the Olympics is around $5 billion. That money usually comes from public coffers, which means that taxpayers are on the hook for spending most or all of that enormous sum. Sometimes, cities can recoup their expenditures by selling sponsorships and hosting parties. Still, there’s no way to make back the money spent on the games in most cases.

To give you an idea of the enormous cost that comes with hosting the Olympic Games, the 2000 edition in Sydney, Australia, cost $4.7 billion. The next one in Athens, Greece, had a price tag of €9 billion, while the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China cost a massive $42 billion.

The London Olympics in 2012 are thought to have cost around $11 billion, while the Rio Olympics in 2016 cost $15 billion. The latest Olympic Games held in Tokyo cost $13.6 to host.

2) Terrorist Threats

Hanging over each Olympic Games is a terrorist threat. In fact, the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, were canceled because of a terrorist attack. The 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, were subject to a bomb scare that resulted in two suspicious packages being blown up before the games began. The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, were marred by terrorist threats and a suicide bombing that killed 34 people in a nearby city.

3) Infrastructure Challenges

Another reason countries might avoid hosting the Olympic Games is that they don’t have the infrastructure to support such a massive event. Brazil spent a whopping $20 billion on infrastructure improvements before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but that came at the expense of other programs. Brazil’s economy has been struggling for years, and protesters have been railing against government corruption and wasteful spending on the Olympic Games.

Hosting an event of such magnitude involves significant urban renewal. That means tearing down old buildings and relocating people, which is problematic when evicting residents from their homes. Building roads, bridges, stadiums, and airports are also expensive. With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, hundreds of thousands were displaced to build new highways for Olympic spectators to get them between venues.

Another challenge for cities that host the Olympics is what to do with the structures they built for the event once all the competitions conclude. Moscow built several stadiums for the 1980 Olympics that were used only briefly before falling into disrepair. While some cities have made good use of the structures intended for the Olympics, many others have wasted away, becoming symbols of wasted taxpayer’s money.

4) Social Issues

When Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, China was criticized for its abysmal human rights record. The government cracked down on Tibetan activists and imprisoned political dissidents by the thousands.

Another danger is that spending so much money on hosting the Olympic Games might make it harder for countries to fight poverty. Look at how Brazil’s economy has faltered since spending billions of dollars on the 2016 Olympics.

5) The Huge Burden Residents Have to Bear

Cities are often left with enormous debts after hosting the Olympic Games, which means that residents have to bear the burden of paying back the funds. This has resulted in numerous evictions and forced many people out of their homes. Since 1982, cities have had to sign a host city contract or agreement with the IOC to host the Olympic Games.

These contracts require cities to ensure that the venues built for the Olympics are given back to the IOC following the completion of events. The problem is that some cities simply cannot afford all the costs associated with such a massive undertaking, while others resent having to pay so much for an event they feel doesn’t benefit them directly.

6) Corruption

Olympic Games can be scuttled because of corruption. The vote to award the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing, China was especially controversial. Many people were suspicious that members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted for Beijing instead of Norway’s bid in Lillehammer simply because they’d been bribed. Russia, which won the bid for the 2014 Winter Games, was similarly accused of bribery.

Several cases have involved Olympic officials being caught accepting bribes and kickbacks from cities bidding to host the Olympic Games. For example, Mohammad bin Hamman, a Qatari diplomat and business tycoon who reportedly helped Qatar win its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has been accused of bribing IOC officials with somewhere between $1 million and $5 million.

In another case, a member of the IOC was found to have accepted a bribe from Salt Lake City to get his vote for the city’s bid to host the 2002 Olympics.

7) Security Issues

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, caused a massive upheaval in the world and led to a significant rethinking of securing large-scale events from potential threats. After it became clear that 9/11 was an inside job planned by terrorists within the U.S., security officials realized just how vulnerable these big public events were.

They began devoting more time to thinking about preventing disasters like 9/11 from occurring at events like the Olympics. This led to stricter security measures and meant that cities would have to spend millions on beefing up their security to host an event like the Olympics.

8) Bad Publicity

Cities often receive negative press when they host the Olympic Games, turning people against their city. For example, when Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, it was criticized for not completing some of its construction projects on time and spending so much money to do so.

This gave the impression that Sochi didn’t have much going for itself other than being chosen to host the Games. This led some to suggest that Russia was using the Olympic Games to boost its reputation.


It’s no secret that hosting the Olympic Games is a costly endeavor. The price tag can be in the billions of dollars, from building new stadiums and infrastructure to security and marketing. And that doesn’t even include the cost of maintaining the venues and infrastructure once the games are over.

For this reason, many countries have withdrawn their bids or refused to host the Olympics altogether. In a later post, I will discuss an idea of a permanent host city that would take away some of these costly issues. Thanks for reading!