More than four years after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics – and exactly 11 years since the city's winning bid – the organizing committee behind the Games has released its final financial and operations reports, concluding the 17-day international event broke even.
However, the $1.9-billion in total operating expenses cited by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games doesn't include costly infrastructure such as the Olympic Athletes Village, the Canada Line or the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade – leading critics to argue the final reports don't cover the true cost of the Olympics.
According to consolidated financial statements, the B.C. government contributed $113-million to operating revenues, the federal government $74-million and other governments $176-million. The bulk of revenue – $731-million – came from domestic sponsorships, while the International Olympic Committee put in $485-million in contributions and $174-million in international sponsorships. Ticket sales brought in $270-million.
Services and games operations accounted for the biggest operating expense, at $730-million, followed by technology, at $452-million.
In all, operating revenues and expenditures were both just shy of $1.89-billion. On June 27, VANOC board members reviewed and approved the organization's final reports at its final meeting and also voted in support of the dissolution of VANOC as a corporate entity. Since 2010, VANOC has closed out more than 2,700 expenditure contracts and 250 revenue contracts for goods and services as part of the dissolution process. John McLaughlin, VANOC's chief financial officer, acknowledged a number of significant challenges along the way, not the least of which being the 2008 financial crisis.
"In 2006-07, sponsorship was really strong, and that is our biggest source of revenue in the operating budget," Mr. McLaughlin said in an interview Thursday.
"All of a sudden, the recession hit in 2008 and revenue pretty much dried up from sponsors, which meant we had to recalibrate. We had to bring the budget down to what we thought we could afford, and that took us quite a while because it's such a complicated project … and we had no idea how long [the recession] would last."
But Harry Bains, who served as opposition critic for the Olympic Games, said VANOC's final report doesn't reflect the true cost of the event when all expenses are factored in. As an example, he referenced the cost of security – which ballooned from an estimated $175-million to nearly $1-billion – and major, Olympics-driven infrastructure projects such as the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade and the construction of the Canada Line rapid transit route connecting Richmond and Vancouver.
The City of Vancouver, which borrowed $630-million for construction of the Olympic Village on False Creek, only paid down its debt last April with the bulk sale of 67 condo units to the Aquilini Group for $91-million.
In all, the total price tag for staging the 2010 Winter Olympics is estimated to be more than $7-billion.
In response, Mr. McLaughlin said that VANOC can only speak to the costs the committee is responsible for managing, but that such projects are "fabulous legacies" for the region.
"It's pretty hard to tell anyone that we only needed the Canada Line for the Olympics," he said. "It's certainly something that has helped the city."