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10 Olympic Games That Nearly Bankrupted Their Host Countries


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2006 Turin Winter Olympics
Apolo Anton Ohno (front) of the U.S in action during the short track speed skating 500 meters at the 2006 Turin Games. S. Levin/Getty Images
Apolo Anton Ohno (front) of the U.S in action during the short track speed skating 500 meters at the 2006 Turin Games. S. Levin/Getty Images

In the months leading up to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, the organizing committee in Turin, Italy, struggled with some tough choices. Faced with funds falling $95 million short (at one time the shortfall climbed to as much as $167 million) and threatened with bankruptcy, the organizers of the world's largest athletic competition started canceling Olympic parties, and cutting travel and promotional budgets. And then they got creative [source: Kahn].

Instead of hosting the Paralympics -- a disabled athletic competition traditionally held following the Olympics -- Turin sold the rights to a private-public company for about $40 million. Still, the income wasn't enough. So the Italians launched a lottery game to quickly raise additional funds. This last-ditch effort lessened the gap, but when the games were over Turin was left with about $49 million in debt. Since then, it has attempted to sell some of the specially constructed Olympic competition venues in hopes to eventually break even [source: Kahn].