Financial crisis won't mar Olympics, says Rogge

Jacques Rogge says a financial meltdown won't extinguish the Olympic flame Keystone

The global financial crisis is unlikely to spoil plans for upcoming Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Jacques Rogge has claimed.

This content was published on September 30, 2008 - 23:32

The IOC president made the remark in Geneva while outlining to journalists his views on the 2008 Beijing Olympics and on forthcoming Olympic events.

Rogge said funding for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, was secure, while the organisers of the London 2012 Summer Games have assured the IOC they can overcome the global credit crunch.

"No one has certainties today, but I am not pessimistic for the Olympic Games," said the IOC president.

"The [London] Olympic construction authority is looking for more funding but the latest report we had is that they would manage in finding the proper funding."

The overall cost of holding the 2012 London Games, including building venues and providing security, is estimated to be around £9.3 billion (SFr18.6 billion), compared with the original bid of £2.5 billion. The Chinese are said to have spent $42 billion (SFr46.6 billion) on the Beijing Games.

There are fears that an economic meltdown could lead to greater public financing being required to build London's Olympic Village and broadcast and press centre by tapping into a British government contingency fund.

High costs?

After the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Rogge challenged London to match the technical achievement of the games in China.

"It's clear that China has put the bar very high and it's going to be a challenge for London and also for all the subsequent games," he said.

On Tuesday, the IOC president defended the high costs needed to stage the Games, explaining that the money needed to create city infrastructure for the Olympics – including building airports and roads – should be seen as an investment, not an expense.

"These are investments for 40, 50, 60 years to come," Rogge told swissinfo. "This leaves a big legacy to the city."

Rogge denied that the Olympics have grown too big.

"People are always speaking about small Games, without financial means and without TV rights and so on," he said. "We had Games like that and they were absolutely hypocritical."

Media influence

Rogge said the old Olympic ideal of amateurism meant only rich countries could afford to compete.

"If we generate a lot of money because of the TV rights and the presence of 30,000 media people, it is just because with this money we can invest in developing countries."

Rogge said the IOC invests $3 billion over a four-year cycle, helping to build facilities and train athletes and coaches in developing countries.

"This is only because there is this media success of the Games," Rogge said. "To reduce the Games we would have to reduce the media and this is something we do not want to do because the media bring the money."

Human rights

Several human rights organisations have declared that the Beijing Olympics would be remembered not only an impressive spectacle, but also as a controversial event that clamped down on dissent.

Reporters Without Borders accused the IOC and Rogge of bearing "much of the responsibility for this failure" to uphold freedoms in Beijing, and said they repeated their error by choosing the Russian resort of Sochi as the 2014 Winter Olympics host city.

Rogge rejected the criticism and said overall the Beijing Games had been "exceptional".

"China has opened up to the world and 32,000 media people were able to report and express their views unhindered. There were occasionally issues that were unsatisfactory but overall the Games have had a positive influence," he told swissinfo.

Rogge admitted there had been geopolitical considerations over the choice of Sochi, but said the decision had been made on the basis of the quality and value of Russian sport.

In response to a question about his silence over the insurrection in Tibet, Rogge denied that the IOC was a political organisation, adding: "We cannot expect the IOC to be a panacea and solve the world's problems.

swissinfo, Simon Bradley in Geneva

2008 olympic games

The 2008 Olympic Games were hosted by China from August 8-24. The Paralympic Games took place from September 6-17.

The Games were centred in the Chinese capital, Beijing, with six other venues hosting certain events, including Hong Kong (equestrian) and Shanghai (football).

10,708 athletes competed in 302 events in 28 different sports. In the Paralympics 4,000 athletes will take part in 471 events encompassing 20 sports.

Eight-four Swiss athletes travelled to China to improve on their performance in Athens in 2004, when the Swiss medal haul totalled one gold (fencing), one silver (cycling) and three bronze (cycling, triathlon, volleyball).

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Switzerland's medals


Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Tennis, Men's Doubles

Fabian Cancellara, Cycling, Men's Individual Time Trial


Fabian Cancellara, Cycling, Men's Road Race

Karin Thürig, Cycling, Women's Individual Time Trial

Sergei Aschwanden, Judo, Men's Middleweight (81-90 kg)

Nino Schurter, Men's Mountain Bike Race

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More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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