The Winter Olympics problem-nobody wants them – CNBC

China‘s capital—a city with scant snowfall and a limited winter sports experience—was chosen last week to host the Games, beating out Almaty, Kazakhstan. While Beijing boasts sparkling facilities left over from its 2008 Summer Games, the International Olympic Committee’s decision perplexed many observers.

But the governing body may not have had a choice. Despite the IOC’s efforts to make bidding and hosting more appealing, some of the stronger possible host cities have shied away in recent years.

Beijing’s only competition came from Almaty, a city in a mountainous region of oil-rich Kazakhstan, which has a population of about 17 million. Oslo, Norway—the previous favorite to host the games—withdrew a bid in October amid government and public opposition. Stockholm and Krakow, Poland, also pulled earlier bids.

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“What you’re increasingly seeing is where there is a lot of democratic input in government, nations are saying ‘no,'” said Mark Dyreson, a professor of kinesiology at Penn State University who studies sports and society. “It’s really hard to get a handle on how much the Olympics truly cost.”

The IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reform initiative—approved late last year—aimed to make bidding easier and less costly. But enthusiasm about hosting remains muted, despite China’s willingness to shell out huge money for the games.

Costs are difficult to calculate due to limited information and exchange rates. But costs of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing may have topped $40 billion each, according to widely reported estimates.


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