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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 10:55, November 14, 2004
Athens Games most expensive Olympics in history
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The Athens Games cost about euro 9 billion (11.6 billion US dollars), the government said Friday, making the 2004 Olympics the most expensive in history.

Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis indicated the soaring cost for the Athens Games could climb even higher.

"The cost of the Olympics Games for the state and Athens 2004 approaches euro 9 billion (11.6 billion dollars). This is the immediate cost for the state and does not include expenditures for infrastructure," Alogoskoufis said after a Cabinet meeting.

He did not give a figure for the infrastructure costs.

Those costs include expensive transport projects such as a new tram line, suburban rail network and the extension of the Athens metro system to the airport. Built in 2004, the tram alone cost at least euro 267 million (344 million dollars).

"There is a huge overrun in relation to original estimates," Alogoskoufis said.

Friday's tally was double the original sum set aside for the 2004 Olympics, and for the first time included the budget of the Athens Organizing Committee - which had until recently had been handled as a separate account.

The previous socialist government, which lost to the conservatives in March elections, had placed the cost of the August 13-29 Olympics and Paralympics that followed in September at euro 4.6 billion (5.9 million dollars). The organizing committee budget of nearly euro 2 billion (2.6 billion dollars) would have brought that up to about euro 6.6 billion (8.51 billiondollars) - far short of Alogoskoufis' figure.

By comparison, the 2000 Sydney Olympics cost 1.5 billion US dollars and the 1996 Atlanta Games cost 1.72 billion dollars.

The government also has not said what it will do with more thaneuro 2.2 billion (2.83 billion dollars) in new or refurbished sports venues. A recent government study predicted it will cost euro 80.5 million (103.8 million dollars) a year for the maintenance and operation of Olympic sites, including the main stadium complex.

But Alogoskoufis insisted paying for the Athens Games will not place a serious burden on Greece's budget.

"The cost of the Olympic Games has been split up into all the previous budgets," he said.

According to Alogoskoufis, Athens also had the highest securitybill in Olympic history at euro 1.08 billion (1.39 billion dollars)- nearly the entire cost of the Sydney Games.

"The Greek people through their sacrifice had to pay for these Olympic Games," said deputy Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who coordinated the Olympics. "We had very successful and very safe games, but we also had very expensive games."

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