Buyer’s Remorse Replaces Bugler’s Delight

Great Britain celebrated when they won the 2012 Olympics over the French in 2005, hailing it as a triumph of Cool Britannia and a chance to underscore the importance of the UK. The Parisians sulked in grand fashion. Both may want to reconsider their reactions in the face of the mounting costs of conducting the Olympics:

It has been reported that the cost of the 2012 London Olympics could soar to £9 billion, almost four times the original estimate.
The BBC has reported that the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are discussing the price, up from the £2.35 billion set out in London’s bid document.
The Government reportedly believes construction alone could cost £3.3 billion, with an extra £2 billion allocated as a contingency fund. The £9 billion figure also includes regeneration costs of £1.8 billion and a £1 billion VAT bill.

Given the state of the world at the moment, it should surprise no one that it also includes a £900 million bill for security. London seems particularly challenging in that regard. With Muslim extremists attracting more and more followers in the ancient city, the Olympics seems a rather tempting target for radical Islamist terrorism, even as far off as these Games still are.
Nine billion pounds equates to $17.7 billion at today’s rate of conversion. By comparison, the Salt Lake City games — conducted in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks — cost $2 billion. Atlanta, which was marred by domestic terrorism, cost $2.4 billion in 1996, at that point a record amount. Sydney’s 2000 summer games cost $2 billion. However, London isn’t far off from the bill generated by Athens, which ran to $14.6 billion in 2004.
I’ve heard of inflation, but this is ridiculous. You could feed Africa on what Athens and the UK will have spent on two summer Olympics. In 2006 dollars, we spent $17 billion developing and building the command and service modules for the Apollo project that put a man on the moon; in fact, the London Olympics — which lasts less than three weeks — will spend over 12% of what we spent on the entire Apollo program in today’s dollars.
The Olympics have turned into the most self-indulgent, overblown human endeavor in history. The peoples of the world should refuse to hold these events until the amount of publc funds spent on them start to have some relationship to their actual benefit.