The London Olympics came in under budget. Yeah right.

By Sam Richardson 25/11/2012

This just out from the NZ Herald* – the London Olympics came in under budget:

The British government says the London Olympics cost about $NZ786 million (400 million pounds) less than expected.
The final financial report for the games projects that the cost will be $17.6 billion from an original budget of $18.33 billion.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson says, “it is a significant achievement to deliver this large and complex program on time and under budget.”

It sure is a significant achievement. Especially when you are aware of this information, taken from Brad Humphrey’s piece in on the economic impact of the Olympic Games in the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (well worth a read in general if you are at all interested in the economics of mega sporting events):

London expected its 2012 Games to cost under $4 billion, but they are now projected to cost over $19 billion (Carlin, 2007; Simon, 2006; Sports Business Daily, 2008a). As expenses have escalated for London, some of the projects have been scaled back, such as the abandonment of the planned roof over the Olympic Stadium. The stadium was originally projected to cost $406 million and will end up costing over $850 million. Further, its construction will be financed by taxpayers and the government has been unsuccessful in its effort to find a soccer or a rugby team to be the facility’s anchor tenant after the 2012 Games. This will saddle the British taxpayers with the extra burden of millions of dollars annually to keep the facility operating. It is little wonder that the London Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell stated: ‘Had we known what we know now, would we have bid for the Olympics? Almost certainly not’. (Sports Business Daily (2008b), citing a story in Daily Telegraph (2008). The Olympic Village was to be privately financed, but the plan fell through and will instead cost the taxpayers nearly $1 billion. The government hopes that the apartments will be sold after the Games and the financing will be recouped.)

So, was it 400m pounds under budget or did it completely blow all projections? You decide.

* [Dismal Science ed’s note: Originally published at Fair Play and Forward Passes 24/10/2012; for some reason, it just came up in my RSS feed here today. Apologies for the delay in service!]