2008 Beijing Olympics by the numbers

With the Olympics just around the corner, here are some interesting financial facts and figures around the 2008 Beijing Olympics. For a sporting event, some of the numbers are massive and the Olympics is one of the few events (like the Soccer world cup) that can actually make a significant impact on a country’s economic growth rate.

– The cost of hosting the games and building of surrounding infrastructure is estimated at $10 billion dollars, even though official figures put it at $2 Billion. The center piece is the Beijing National Stadium, or Bird’s Nest, which took 51 months to build and cost around $300 million, much of which went on the 41,875 tonnes of steel included in the unusual lattice design

– Experts estimate that the Games would produce a total of $71.7 billion in revenues during the 2003-10 period around the Olympic Games. The main beneficiary is the travel industry and it is estimated that there may be 800,000 tourists from abroad and 2 million from within the country during the games.

– NBC has paid $2 Billion dollars for the exclusive American TV rights. This is highest ever paid for an overseas sporting event.

– More than 100,000 volunteers, chosen from among nearly one million applicants, will be on hand to help tourists befuddled by the rules and the language. A 110,000-strong security force has been mobilized, including 34,000 troops of the People’s Liberation Army with 74 jets, 48 helicopters and surface-to-air missiles protecting the main stadiums.

– Official ticket prices at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will range from $5 to $700. Unofficially tickets to the opening ceremony are going for as high as $5,000 on auction sites. To put the ticket prices in perspective, the average monthly wage for a Beijing resident is about $400.

Beijing’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to break the 1-trillion-yuan mark (146.2 billion U.S. dollars) this year thanks to its hosting of the Olympic Games. In 2007, the Olympic factor contributed 1.14 percent to the growth rate.

– The average hotel price in Beijing for a 3 or more star hotel is $400. Five star hotels, which are already overbooked, start from as high as $600 a night.

The above are tangible figures, but the intangible value of the Olympics to it’s host city is phenomenal as well. I was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the time leading up to and during the Olympics was a transformational event for the city and its people. It is something I will never forget and if you get the chance (despite the expense) you must attend an Olympic event once in your lifetime, just to get a feel for the atmosphere and electric buzz in the air from this unique and truly global sporting event. For China, these games are very important for it’s national image and is being seen as a coming of age party on to the world stage, politically and socially. Never before has there been so much internal scrutiny on China and given the preparations they have undertaken, I am sure it will be one of the best Olympics ever.

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