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10 Olympic Games That Nearly Bankrupted Their Host Countries


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2004 Athens Summer Olympics
The hero of the 2004 Olympics, Michael Phelps, won a total of eight swimming medals during the games. Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images
The hero of the 2004 Olympics, Michael Phelps, won a total of eight swimming medals during the games. Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images

Athens hosted the Summer Olympics a second time more than a century later, but with a much more disastrous financial result. While the official cost was $4.6 billion, the actual price tag may have been as high as $15 billion for specialized athletic complexes that included the Olympic Beach Volleyball Center and Olympic Tennis Center [source: Athens Info Guide, CNBC].

After the last spectators left, many of the venues were never used again. In 2012, a reporter witnessed a smattering of individuals jogging around Athens' Olympic Sports Complex, dodging windswept debris and a series of rusty locked gates along the way. Many of the complex's amenities, including its tennis courts were shuttered. Worse, she learned that a restaurant constructed specifically for competitors and dignitaries was in business for a single hour to host the Greek prime minister. New kitchen equipment and chairs in their original packaging lay abandoned inside the building eight years later [source: Smith].

Athens' Olympic build was funded by the socialist country's public investment budget, a move that has taxpayers still footing the bill. Some believe paying for the Olympics helped fuel Greece's economic crisis in 2009 [source: CNBC].