During the past 100 years, each Olympics has been financed in a different manner, trends in Olympic financing are highlighted below.


Restriction of the Olympic events to amateur athletes and the high cost of international travel at the time kept the first Olympic games small. Because of this, the macroeconomic impact of the games was negligible. A sense of commercial naiveity seems to characterise the early games where the focus seems to have been on playing sport rather than money making


This period is characterised by an increase in the popularity of the games, this made it necessary to find new sources of funding to support the organisation of the games. The increase in the influence of the mass media during this period led to the emergence of TV rights and sponsorship as important sources of revenue for the games. The period also marks the dawning realisation that the Olympics can have a long-term economic impact on the host city both in a negative manner through the economic burden incurred through Olympic debt and in a positive manner through investment in the public infrastructure of the host city.


The debt incurred by the citizens of Montreal awakened citizens to the economic cost of hosting the Olympic Games. Games held at Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney in 2000 all adopted a mixed financing model using money both from the state and from private enterprise to underpin the operational and investment costs. This approach attempts to balance the interests of all the Olympic stakeholders (inc. IOC, OCOG, Citizens, Athletes).

These different financial dimensions can be seen from the graph below.

An important distinction must be made between the Operational revenues from the games and investment income designed to boost the infrastructure of the host city. Operational revenues have come from a range of different source as shown in the figure below

Two important sources of Olympic revenue are the sale of television rights and Olympic sponsorship programs. Realising the role of TV Rights in securing long-term revenues for the Olympic movement, the IOC has assumed the role of chief negotiator and benefactor. Olympic marketing also forms a prominent part of revenues from the games. The proliferation of commercial involvement in the games through sponsorship has led to allegations of over-commercialisation. This is discussed in detail in our report alongside the problem of Olympic corruption.

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