Can the Olympics survive 2020?

The Olympics as we know them have been around for 124 years. A lot has evolved since 1896, but it seems the business model of the Games is one thing not even time can’t change.

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being postponed to next year (for now), it’s time to take the interim 12 months to reevaluate the economics of the Games. Because they don’t always make complete sense…

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  • Hosting the Olympics is more often than not a money-losing endeavor. Did you know that it took Montreal until 2006 to pay off the last of its debt from the 1976 Games?
  • Tourism for host cities actually takes a hit when they welcome the Games.

I learned that (and a whole lot more) from Andrew Zimbalist, today’s guest on Business Casual.

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Andrew is the best of the best in the field attempting to understand the economics of sport. He’s taught econ at Smith College for decades, specializing in the Olympics and the impacts the Games have on host cities and their economies.

In this episode, Andrew helps me tear apart the Olympics business model, taking into account the perspectives of host cities, athletes, the International Olympic Committee, and more. In addition to understanding what’s broken, we’ll talk about how we fix it. (Hint: Anyone at the IOC listening? We’ve got some thoughts.)

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And most importantly: We’ll also parse out the causes, effects, and impacts of postponing Tokyo 2020 due to the coronavirus.

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Kinsey Grant
Business Editor and Podcast Host at Morning Brew
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