Government Report Says Olympic Games Have Cost Taxpayers Billions

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Two lawmakers on Friday released a General Accounting Office report that says hosting Olympic games in America has cost American taxpayers over $2 billion dollars since 1984.

In 1999 dollars, the GAO says the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games cost $75 million, The 1996 Atlanta Games cost $609 million. The projected cost for hosting the 2002 Olympic games is expected to cost taxpayers $1.3 billion. The agency came up with the figure after consulting with 24 different federal agencies.

Representative John Dingell (D-MI) said, "we believe it's time to stop allowing the bid cities to have a blank check that the American taxpayer is then forced to make good on. It is time for Congress and the Administration to exercise more aggressive oversight of what the bid cities are promising."

Dingell went on to say, "the federal government needs to ensure that projects promised to the International Olympic Committee by the bid cities, in their pursuit of the Games, will continue to serve the community and be economically viable after the Olympics have come and gone."

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, "this report is not about the Olympic games. It is about the fact that the American taxpayer is now the largest underwriter of the Olympic games."

The GAO also found that federal agencies did not use funds adequately for two of the five Olympic related projects it reviewed.

McCain noted that the GAO found that projects for the upcoming games in Salt Lake City will cost taxpayers $2 million to fund sewer construction projects the Environmental Protection Agency says wouldn't have been necessary if not for the games; $77 million to move spectators to and from game events; $8.9 million in campground and trails improvements and $4.7 million in post office improvements.