Going for the Green

Test your knowledge of financial issues surrounding the Olympic Games.


The 2010 Winter Olympic Games are about to begin, but the financing of the 17-day event kicked off years ago. In true form, the Games are proving to be far more expensive than first estimated, with everyone from civic leaders to media sponsors questioning the cost-benefit ratio. Herewith your chance to ascend the podium of Olympic financial knowledge.

1) Originally budgeted at $1.3 billion, the cost of the Vancouver Games has risen by (conservatively) 35%. Not included in that figure is the security budget, which has increased:

A. 70%
B. 150%
C. 400%
D. 600%

2) Shortly after Vancouver won the bid for the Games, sponsors ponied up substantial sums. But times have changed. One recent sponsor signed on by agreeing to provide:

A. Ski waxing and skate sharpening for all athletes
B. Coffee and pastries flown in from Paris
C. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant products
D. Wi-Fi access throughout the Olympic Village

3) The U.S. speed-skating team lost $300,000 worth of support when Dutch bank DSB entered bankruptcy. Stepping in to help raise money for the team was:

A. The National Hockey League
B. A consortium of Russian vodka distillers
C. Comedian Stephen Colbert
D. The city of Green Bay, Wisconsin

4) The United States is well acquainted with the financial challenges of hosting the Games, of course. In 2002, according to Mitt Romney (president and CEO of the event's organizing committee at the time), Salt Lake City's effort was helped in part by the fact that:

A. "Visitors will feel safe spending their money in Salt Lake City."
B. "Most of our expensive venues were built by God."
C. "Our state tax code reflects the values of America."
D. "Holding the Games in a favorable time zone has tripled sponsorship dollars."

5) Helping Romney manage those games was CFO and COO Fraser Bullock, who was paid:

A. Nothing
B. 10% of cost reductions achieved
C. A flat fee of $150,000
D. A salary of $200,000

6) Although Olympic athletes don't get paid in a conventional sense, many countries provide "incentives" based on performance. In 2004, the United States paid its gold-medal winners $25,000. This year, Thailand will pay its gold medalists approximately:

A. $175
B. $1,200
C. $90,000
D. $315,000

7) Post-Olympic endorsements are where the real money is, but for every Michael Phelps (who earned an estimated $5 million a year before his stunning 2008 performance) there is a Romain Mesnil. The French pole vaulter was so desperate to land a sponsor that he created a YouTube video in which he:

A. Ran naked through Paris
B. Gave a tour of his studio apartment
C. Explained how to eat on $25 a week
D. Vaulted over an armored car

Sources: National Post of Canada (1 & 2); Boston Globe (3); CFO, September 2000 (4 & 5); theolympianblog.com (6); BBC (7)

Answers: 1–C; 2–C; 3–C; 4–B; 5–D; 6–D; 7–A


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