Olympic sceptic Zimbalist: South Korea won't recover $13bn PyeongChang costs
South Korea will not recover the $13 billion it has spent on hosting the winter Olympic Games presently under way in PyeongChang, according to Andrew Zimbalist, the US economics professor and noted Olympic Games sceptic.
Zimbalist, of Smith College, told CNBC that the games are set to rack up losses of over $10 billion, adding: “At the end of the day, they've spent $13 billion and they'll get back about $2.5 billion. The only way you can justify that kind of a terrible balance is if, in the long run, it's going to promote tourism, promote trade and promote foreign investment. There’s no evidence from other Olympics that that happens.”
Zimbalist claimed that PyeongChang’s location, two hours by train from Seoul, is also a problem.
He said: “Even with the high-speed rail, [PyeongChang] is close to two hours away from Seoul - and it’s a real problem because they've spent $13 billion either building venues or building infrastructure to connect that area to Seoul
“Unless there are a lot of people who are going to be going back and forth between the two areas, the infrastructural investments don't make sense, most of - almost all of - the infrastructural venues and the sport venue investments don't make sense.”
Meanwhile, organisers yesterday pledged to spend an extra Won3 billion ($2.77 million) in a bid to solve transport problems at the games, after admitting that they could not cope with the demands placed on the shuttle bus system for moving spectators, media, athletes and the games workforce between venues.
Kang Hee-up, the director general of transportation for the organising committee, told reporters: “We have thoroughly prepared the transport system, but it is true that there are some problems as we are operating them and implementing the plans on site.”
Kang said that an extra 10 per cent capacity is required on top of the 1,800 shuttle buses already operating.
• Japan’s Kei Sato, a short-track speed skater, has become the first athlete to be suspended for testing positive for a banned substance at the winter Olympics, after an out-of-competition test showed signs of acetalozamide, which can be a masking agent and is used as a diuretic.
Saito vowed to fight any sanction, saying that he had no intention of violating anti-doping regulations.