2010 Games operating budget now C$1.7 billion

Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:00pm EST
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics say their operating budget remains balanced despite a revised spending plan released on Friday that is C$127 million higher than previously estimated.

The operating budget was increased to C$1.75 billion ($1.42 billion) from C$1.63 billion after auditors told the Vancouver Organizing Committee it had to report additional spending it was doing on behalf of private sponsors and outside organizations.

"The cost of the Games has not increased," Executive Vice-President David Cobb told reporters.

The C$127 million represented items such as special transportation that VANOC sets up on behalf of sponsors who then pay for it themselves.

Officials said that money had not been included in earlier spending plans because they could not estimate then what the figures would be.

VANOC has also set aside C$27 million of $77 million in contingency funds to cover any unexpected revenue shortfalls, such as failed sponsorship deals, caused by the global economic slowdown.

Organizers have also trimmed spending in areas such as marketing to help pay for higher than expected costs for holding events in the mountain resort of Whistler, British Columbia, which has limited and expensive housing.

The operating budget does not include C$580 million in competition venue construction that is being paid for the Canadian and British Columbia governments.

It also does not include the C$1 billion facility to house athletes that was supposed to have been privately funded. The city of Vancouver was forced to take over financing of the facility after private lenders froze funding.

Government funding is also being used to build more than C$2 billion in highway upgrades, mass transit improvements and a convention center complex that are being done in conjunction with the Games

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)