PtG Article 10.03.2009

Youth Olympic Games expected to cost 25 times more than similar events

The first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore next year is set to cost at least 25 times more than another sporting event in Finland this summer with a similar amount of competitors.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants the new youth games for 3,500 athletes and 875 officials to ‘share and celebrate the cultures of the world in a festive atmosphere’ and the bill will be U$75.5 million.

This summer, the twelfth Island Games - a biennial mini-Olympics for island communities – will be staged in the Swedish-speaking island of Åland for more than 3,200 athletes and the bill is unlikely to top U$2.75m.

Island Games Association (IGA) Treasurer Eric Legg says: “I would suggest that nowadays the cost of running the Games is between UK£1.5 million and UK£2 million from the point of view of the host Island.”

The crucial difference between the two events is that competitors going to Singapore will, according to the IOC, have an expenses paid trip, whereas Island Games’ athletes must fund their own board and travel.

Some Island Games involve building work such as the 2003 event in Guernsey, where UK£1.7 million was spent on a new stand at the Garenne Stadium, but most do not and the last four competitions cost between UK£1 million and £1.2 million to stage.

The IOC took nearly a working week to respond to Play the Game’s questions on the inaugural YOG before a spokeswoman finally explained that the cost was due to “funding travel and accommodation for NOC delegations, and the production of a daily broadcast highlights package.”

The IOC initially suggested that the YOG should not cost more than U$30 million but Singapore’s winning bid of U$75.5m was still more than half the cost of the other short-listed candidate, Russia.

The IOC would not disclose whether the organisation would contribute financially to next year’s event in Singapore but the IGA’s chairman said that bankrolling a trip for youngsters set a bad example.

“In my opinion, you should pay for what you get and everything you get for free is not worth anything,” says Jörgen Pettersson, who competed in many Island Games for Åland and is organizing this year’s event.

“There is something to be learned from raising your own funding. If you pay for their travel, you send a strange message to youngsters although you can get everyone to attend.

“We’re always concerned about cost and the cost this year will probably be closer to £1.2 million. Another major difference [between the YOG and the Island Games] is that they are dealing with paid staff and we are not. A host island would generally employ no more than one or two people and need around 1,000 volunteers. If we started paying them it would be major.”

The cost of the Youth Olympic Games dwarfs not just the Island Games but other similar events aimed at the younger generation.

The Commonwealth Youth Games will be staged in the Isle of Man with 1,000 competitors in seven sports from 77 countries – and the hosts’ budget is just UK£1.5 million.

Despite the ballooning cost, the IOC is pressing ahead with the Youth Olympics and last month disclosed that China, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Poland and Turkey want to host the next YOG in 2014.

Official candidacies must be declared on April 1 with a winner named in February 2010.


International Olympic Committee -


Island Games Association -


2009 Island Games -


2010 Youth Olympic Games -


2011 Commonwealth Youth Games -