ATHENS, Greece -- The bill arrived for the Athens Olympics
on Friday: about $11.6 billion, and it might climb higher.
The tally announced by the government was almost double the original estimate, making the games by far the most expensive in
Olympic history. The 2000 Sydney Games cost $1.5 billion and the
1996 Atlanta Games $1.72 billion.
"This is the immediate cost for the state and does not include
expenditures for infrastructure," Finance Minister Giorgos
Alogoskoufis said after a Cabinet meeting. He did not give a figure
for the infrastructure costs.
Those costs include expensive transportation projects such as a new tram line, suburban rail network and the extension of the
Athens metro system to the airport. Built in 2004, the tram alone
cost at least $344 million.
"There is a huge overrun in relation to original estimates,"
The government also has not said what it will do with more than $2.83 billion in new or refurbished sports venues. A recent
government study predicted it will take $103.8 million a year for
the maintenance and operation of Olympic sites, including the main
The figures released Friday for the first time included the
budget of the Athens Organizing Committee that until recently had
been handled as a separate account.
The previous Socialist government, which lost to the
Conservatives in March elections, had placed the cost of the Aug.
13-29 Olympics and Paralympics that followed in September at $5.9
billion. The organizing committee budget of nearly $2.6 billion
would have brought that up to about $8.51 billion, far short of
Alogoskoufis insisted that paying for the Athens Games will not place a serious burden on Greece's budget.
"The cost of the Olympic Games has been split up into all the
previous budgets," he said.
The Socialists disputed Alogoskoufis' figures and demanded a
detailed breakdown, which he has not provided. They also accused the government of adding what they described as irrelevant costs -- such
as hospital renovations -- to inflate the figures in an effort to
make the opposition party appear incompetent.
"These figures are farcical," Socialist Party spokesman Nikos
Athens also had the highest security bill in Olympic history at
$1.39 billion, nearly the entire cost of the Sydney Games.
"The Greek people through their sacrifice had to pay for these
Olympic Games," said deputy culture minister Fani Palli-Petralia,
who coordinated the Olympics. "We had very successful and very
safe games, but we also had very expensive games."