Final Cost of Olympics Soars to $11.6B

Friday, November 12th 2004, 7:40 am
By: News On 6

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The final cost of the Athens Olympics soared to about $11.6 billion _ at least $3.1 billion more than originally estimated.

The figure did not include transportation projects such as the new tram line, suburban rail network and extension of the Athens metro system to the airport, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said Friday.

``The Olympic Games were an investment, but the Greek people should know how much they have cost,'' he said.

The previous socialist government, which lost to the conservatives in March elections, had placed the cost of the Aug. 13-29 Olympics and Paralympics that followed in September at $5.9 million. The budget of the organizing committee, which was managed as a separate company and had a separate budget of nearly $2.6 billion, would have brought that total up to about $8.51 billion.

``The cost of the Olympics Games for the state and Athens 2004 approaches ($11.6 billion). 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.

He stressed that the final tally will not be a serious burden to Greece's budget.

``The cost of the Olympic Games has been split into all the previous budgets. There is a very small percentage which will be included in the next year's budget,'' Alogoskoufis said.

The government has blamed the inflated costs on construction delays and unprecedented security.

Athens spent $1.39 billion on defending the games against a potential terrorist attack _ about the cost of the entire Sydney Olympics in 2000, Alogoskoufis said.

More than 70,000 police, soldiers and other members of the Greek armed forces provided security at Olympic sites. Another 35,000 troops guarded railways and borders while Greece's entire armed forces were placed on alert during the Olympics.