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Athens, Greece (Summer, 2004)

Boom or Bust? Bust

Although Athens put on successful Games, they went badly over their $4.6 billion budget and many believe that the debt accrued, $14-15 billion according to Stephen Wenn, Professor of Sport History and Olympic studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, contributed to the country’s financial crisis.In the months after the Games the shortfall was estimated to be around 50,000 euros for each Greek household but no official figure for the cost has ever been published.

Athens lost the chance to change the face of the city, by failing to keep up the modernization started by the Olympics. Many of the venues lie vacant and rotting; the Independent newspaper reports as many as 21 out of 22 are unused. Promised parks never materialized, new transportation infrastructure has caused problems like flooding and increased traffic. The Socialist government decided to finance the full cost of the Olympic venues out of the public investment budget, without developing a strategy for post-games use. Wenn says Olympic “success comes to those who most fully grapple with the issue of legacy and remain firmly fixed on what their city hopes to achieve.” But for Athens this does not seem to have happened.

Photo: Yiorgos Ventouris | WireImage