A study into how much it cost Athens to host the 2004 Olympics and Paralympics has been commissioned by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Organising Committee, it was announced today.
She has ordered the survey to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of Games, which is due next Wednesday (August 13).
“Ten years after the Games…[we are] undertaking a study into the imprint which the 2004 Olympics had on the Greek economy,” the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said in a statement.
“Until now, there has been no detailed, scientific investigation of their overall impact.”
The IOBE plan to release their findings before the end of this year, they said.
Marked by extensive delays that caused huge cost overruns, Athens 2004 spearheaded a radical infrastructure makeover in the Greek capital but also left behind a host of expensive sports venues that the country never managed to fully utilise.
At the former Olympic rowing centre in the town of Marathon, which gave its name to the endurance race, stray dogs play among overgrown weeds as a dozen youths train in the water.
Across the city, the former canoe and kayak venue has dried up, and entire banks of spectators’ seats have been ripped out.
Last year, Greece’s Finance Ministry revealed €8.5 billion (£6.8 billion/$11.4 billion) had been spent on the Olympics and Paralympics, but the bill included non-sports infrastructure such as archaeological sites and hospitals.
The Ministry estimated that out of that total, €2 billion (£1.5 billion/$2.7 billion) had been covered by ticket sales, television rights and sponsorship.
It has been claimed, though, that the actual cost of the Games was €13 billion (£10 billion/$17 billion), including an estimated €1 billion (£794 million/$1.3 billion) spent on security after the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States in September 2001.
Researchers at Oxford University have claimed that the cost of Athens 2004 was 97 per cent over budget.
Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, and former International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge in 2011 said the Games “played a part” in fueling the country’s enormous debt.
“If you look at the external debt of Greece, there could be up to two or three percent of that which could be attributed to the Games,” Rogge told Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
Greece was forced in 2009 to seek two bailouts worth €240 billion (£190 billion/$320 billion) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Rogge claimed Games “could have been staged at a much lower cost, as there were delays that rendered double shifts necessary, and having people work at night does cost more,” he said at the time.
But not all the venues built for the Games are unused.
The International Broadcast Centre is a bustling mall, the badminton venue is a theatre and venues at the site of the former Athens airport have been sold.
Spyros Kapralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, denies accusations that costs to host the Games contributed to Greece’s debt crisis and claims, that without hosting them, many of the major improvements the city underwent would never have happened.
He claimed that the cost of the Olympics and Paralympics added only a small amount to Greece’s overall debt.
“If you put it on a scale, the positives outweigh the negatives but unfortunately we weren’t able to communicate that,” Kapralos told Reuters.
“The face of the city changed.”
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.