Economics of the 2022 Winter Olympics

By Audrey Wang | February 24, 2022

The XXIV Olympic Winter Games kicked off in spectacular style as the magnificent five rings of the Olympics connected to each other at the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing National Stadium.

The stunning opening ceremony was luxurious and even had a virtual ice cube emerge from the stadium floor. Twenty-four laser beams engraved the names of the twenty-four previous hosts before projecting the name of Beijing 2022 to the countless performers singing and dancing in the middle of the stadium. Beijing and the rest of the cities in China prepared years for this day to come while investing an estimated 38.5 billion U.S. dollars.

The Beijing National Speed Skating Oval, also known as the ice Ribbon, was newly opened in 2021, making it the largest speed skating venue in Asia, costing over 180 million dollars. The entire stadium is known for its modern oval-like design, along with its amazing technologies and striking lighting at night. The light beams on the outside create a 3-dimensional nest across the sky, making its way into the top night sceneries in Beijing. The ice artificially made in this stadium is also known as the fastest ice ever created because of its 0 difference between temperature and thickness of the ice. The entire stadium takes hundreds of million dollars to maintain yearly.

Even though torches brought a mesmerizing Opening Ceremony along with a climactic end, one torch alone with its specialized fire was 300 million dollars. Every rehearsal requires staff members of 2,500 people, and every rehearsal runs with the cost of money like an actual opening. This eas four times the expense compared to the other Olympics openings in previous years.

This year, the entire outdoor skiing events operated on 100% artificial snow, which took place in Yanqing and in Zhangjiakou, which are 75 km and 180 km from Beijing. The artificial snow combined in these two places makes 1.2 million cubic meters of artificial snow. The exclusive driverless bullet train that links athletes from Beijing to these events costs over 20 billion U.S. dollars. Professor Yang at the University of Shizuoka stated that the Chinese government never considered the practical profits nor the return on investment; they just wasted unnecessary money to show the foreign media and countries how powerful China is. Professor Yang also predicted that for much of the infrastructure built in these poorer areas like Zhangjiakou, the local government won't have the money to maintain such a costly high-tech structure in their local village.

The "One World, One Family" theme of the Opening Ceremony was represented by a single snowflake, similar to how the world is connected together. Behind the phenomenal Olympics, it leaves many workers from suburban China out of work because of the 5- years blue sky project in Beijing, which forcibly shut down many factories. Should China instead spend more money lifting the extremely poor villages in the southwest? One specific village in Sichuan province sits 3,000 meters above sea level, where people live for under 2 dollars a day, and many children are abandoned because their parents have to work in the city. If China even cut just 0.5% of their budget for the Olympics to launch a project to help this particular village out of poverty, that could make a major difference.

Edited by Joseph Barbieri