July 9, 2010 / 9:11 PM / in 7 years

Vancouver Games cost province more than expected

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia paid C$925 million ($898 million) to help host the Vancouver Olympics, significantly more than provincial officials had pledged in bidding for the event, according to figures released on Friday.

<p>People gather around the burning Olympic Cauldron during Canada Day celebrations in Vancouver, British Columbia July 1, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>

Government officials defended the spending, saying the success of the February Games gave the western Canadian province extensive international media exposure that can be used to promote future economic development.

In Vancouver’s bid to the International Olympic Committee to host the 2010 Winter Games, the provincial government’s share was estimated at C$600 million -- a figure that government officials repeatedly defended.

The C$925 million tally included money for venue construction, promotional efforts, and special funding to help the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) deal with the impact of the international economic turmoil in 2009.

The figures released on Friday do not include money spent on a major highway upgrade between Vancouver and the resort community of Whistler where many of the skiing events were held. The province argued the highway reconstruction was not a Games-related expense because it needed to be done anyway.

VANOC has said it expects its C$1.7 billion operating budget will be balanced when the final figures are tallied later this year.

The federal government paid for half of the C$585 million venue construction budget and most of the C$900 million security budget, but Ottawa has not yet released a final report on its Olympics costs.

The city of Vancouver said in April it spent C$554 million on the Olympics, but that did not include C$500 in loans to bail out the private builder of the athletes’ village after it ran into financial troubles.

Reporting Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson

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