The most important business of the Olympics

Bart Chilton
Yahoo Finance
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Fans wave Korean Unification Flags. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Fans wave Korean Unification Flags. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

The Olympics are not a sure-thing profit-making endeavor. Many times, they don’t even pay for themselves. But the biggest business of the Olympics is not about dollars and cents, it is more about serious societal sensibilities?

According to one study, the average cost of hosting the Summer Olympics is $5.2 billion and $3.1 billion for Winter games. Those figures don’t even include related infrastructure costs which often times are even higher. Cost overruns are typical and unbelievably high. For example, 47 percent of the games have cost overruns of over 100 percent! Even the $100 million facility in South Korea which is hosting this Olympics will be torn down—torn down—later this year.

While the profit and loss statements may be dismal and disappointing, there’s bigger and more important business for the Olympics.

Here’s why: Sure, the Olympics are about friendly competition. But, they are about much more. They are about how we can enjoy—even savor—something together as a global community while having enormous pride in our own nations, and respecting others for their patriotism.

This Olympics is particularly important due to the increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula between the North and South and between North Korea and the United States. The battle of words and who has a bigger nuclear button makes most of us shake our heads in dismay. Nuclear weapons in the wrong hands, particularly unstable hands, can change the world in horrible and horrendous ways.

All that can be done, should be done to ease tensions at every opportunity. The Olympics is one such overt opportunity. It’s not a time to deride or call others by names, but to be respectful, to applaud the winner and those that have efforted to win in such championship competition. Standing up and applauding, for example, the joint North and South “Korea” Olympics team—the first time ever that they have joined—was something thousands of people in the stadium chose to do during the opening ceremony. Bravo for those who did so.

As we watch and enjoy the Olympics in the coming weeks (and if you have not, try to. I’m “all in” and it’s great) let’s hope that some residual goodwill from this most unique and high-grade sports competition transcends to diplomacy and foreign policy.

If it does, we’ll all sleep better, and we’ll enjoy a more peaceful world. If that occurs, the other business and economics of the Olympics will take care of themselves.

(About the Author: Former US Trading Commissioner Bart Chilton is a policy and political analyst and author of Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America. He can be reached at bartchilton@bartchilton.com.)

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