10 Olympic Games That Nearly Bankrupted Their Host Countries

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

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].