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Berlin, €62 Billion in Debt, Considers a ‘Cheap’ Bid to Host the Olympics

Klaus Wowereit. Source DPA
Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is proposing Olympic Games at a minimum cost to the German capital.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Olympics cost London €11.5 billion in 2012 and Athens about €10 billion in 2004, casting doubt on Berlin’s tiny €2.4-billion proposal.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Berlin already has several existing sports complexes, potentially lowering the cost4s of the games.
    • In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, some €5.4 billion was spent just on underground pipes.
    • The 2006 World Cup soccer championship in Germany cost €1.9 billion.
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    Audio

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The Olympics are a game of billions. And whether or not the people of Berlin back an official bid for the 2024 Games will depend greatly on the cost to their impoverished city.

Enormous sums like €34 billion ($44 billion) in Beijing and €39 billion ($50 billion) in Sochi act as a serious deterrent. In contrast, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit this month offered to propose just  €2.4 billion ($3.1 billion) to hold the Olympics a decade from now.

That wouldn’t include the price tag for infrastructure and security, but it’s still a tiny figure.

The city’s sport officials seem to be equally ambitious in going cheap. “Our requirement is to carry out the most affordable Games in the last 20 to 30 years,” said Andreas Statzkowski, Berlin’s deputy sport minister. “We will be especially inexpensive because we can use what we already have. We can in all seriousness utter the word modest.”

The Berlin government has won the support of some experts.

“Berlin could hold the cheapest Olympic Games in a long time,” said Holger Preuss, professor of sport economics at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.

Mr. Preuss examined the host cities of the past decades and considers the conditions in Berlin to be especially good.

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