Tokyo 2020 Olympics 'the most expensive ever', says Oxford study

According to a study by the Oxford University, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which has been postponed until 2021, is set to become the most expensive summer Olympic Games on record.


The lead author of the study, Bent Flyvbjerg, explained in an interview that the Tokyo Olympics has already overrun costs that are over 200 per cent of the predicted cost. Back in 2013, when Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, it was predicted that it would cost around US$7.3 billion. So far, the costs have exceeded London 2012, which was the current most expensive Olympics, and exceeded predictions by 200 per cent. The study claims that the costs are already at US$15.84 billion.

Flyvbjerg expects the costs of the games to increase further by several billion dollars as a result of the one-year delay caused by COVID-19.

Flyvbjerg only looks at operating and capital costs in his reports and leaves out a category in which he calls “sprucing up projects” which include the renovation of transport infrastructure as an example. He also excludes the cost of debt, the cost of running the sports venues after the Olympics and inflation.

Flyvbjerg said: “Our estimates are conservative because there are lots of costs that are hidden that we can't get into, and there are lots of costs we decided not to include because it’s too complex. We include the things we can get the most reliable numbers for and we do it in the same way for each city that we study.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that it has not seen the study conducted by Flybjerg so declines to comment on it. It will, however, comment on a study by universities in Mainz and Sorbonne which has claimed that the Tokyo 2020 Games are similar to other large projects.

“They [IOC] obviously don’t like our results, but it’s very difficult to counter a piece of rigorous research like this…And they haven’t done that, and they can’t do that. Our research is a problem for them,” Flyvbjerg remarks.

“The Olympics offer the highest level of risk a city can take on… the trend cannot continue. No city will want to do this because it’s just too expensive, putting themselves into a debt that most cities cannot afford.”

Flyvbjerg mentions that he is a fan of the Olympics and said that he would love the chance to sit and talk to IOC President Thomas Bach, "It's not that the IOC hasn’t been willing to talk, or I am not willing to talk. We certainly are. We have communicated in writing to keep the IOC informed. But yes, we would like to sit down with Thomas Bach.”



Author: Bradleigh Amis

© 2020 Premier Sports Agency Ltd. 

Find us on

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube