PtG Article 12.06.2009

Institutional deceit reason for mega event debt

Public sector debts are swelling due to institutional deceit about the hosting of mega-events such as the Olympic Games, a leading Canadian academic told Play the Game.

The University of Columbia’s Professor Chris Shaw used Vancouver’s hosting of next year’s Winter Olympic Games as an example of how the public are misled over costs, which is benefitting a handful of private sector companies.

Professor Shaw said: “Another kind of corruption permeates the Olympics, where the host city continually lies to the public and conceals the true cost.”

“Is it stupidity or blatant deceit? I would suggest it is both.”

Professor Shaw likened hosting the Olympics to the Nigerian banking scams, where emails are sent asking people to open the bank accounts to help supposedly rich people get their money out of the African state only to find themselves ripped off.

“It’s like the Nigerian banking scam because you want to do a good thing for humanity but it also appeals to your greed,” added Professor Shaw in his talk titled ‘The Hidden 4th Pillar of Olympism: Privatized Profit, Socialized Debt, which highlighted spiralling costs for Vancouver 2010.’

He added: “In 2002, we were promised that the cost to provincial and federal taxpayers would be CAD 660 million but now it’s CAD 6 billion.”

“There are no audited financials to date and there has been outright deceit about security costs and all levels of government have blocked access to information all along the way.”

“If [VANOC, the Vancouver Organising Committee] had told the public how much it would have cost,, they would not have wanted to be involved.”

According to Professor Shaw, in addition to spiralling costs for security and wholesale destruction of the environment, including the felling of 100,000 trees to make way for what was claimed to be the ‘greenest games ever’, the Canadian authorities have also taken on a CAD 1.1 billion mortgage for the athletes village for Vancouver 2010.