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What would it take for Dublin to ever host an Olympics - other than a miracle?

We would need to find treasure.
Aug 20th 2016, 11:45 AM 32,595 89

Campaign 2016 Olympics The Maracana on opening night of these Olympics. Imagine this over Croker in 2024. Source: Felipe Dana

OK, THE IDEA is stupid from the off. I get that.

The money alone means that Ireland could never, ever, ever, ever, ever host an Olympics.

But, what if?

Let’s just look at what the Games cost to host, will we?

20160818_Olympia Source: Statista

The Rio Olympics cost the Brazilian government around €4.3 billion with another €1.4 billion provided for overruns in budgets. Obviously, the Irish government doesn’t just have that knocking around.

But, then again…


France says if it wins the right to host the 2024 Games, it will cost €6 billion.

What better a strategic investment than an Olympics? After hospitals, education, roads, housing and gardaí, obviously. Still with me?

Ok, so Ireland now has the cash available to put towards a bid. We’ve got politicians and civil servants on side.

How far away are we? Very.

The deal

Rio Olympics Athletics Source: Matt Slocum

The first thing we need to do is have a look at the contractual obligations host cities have to undertake. The contract for potential hosts of the 2024 Games is 273 pages long and previous contracts have been criticised for kowtowing to big businesses and ignoring certain human rights.

The contract is filled with stipulations a city must fulfill to host the Summer Games — including security, agreements not to sue the IOC, and an outline of the marketing agreements.

The document gives the broad brushstrokes of what any candidate city must do to host the Games. There are some details — for instance, the organising committee must agree to give the IOC 7.5% of cash revenue from contracts it signs as part of the marketing program — but there are no hard figures about how much money is spent on the massive construction projects that all Olympics eventually become.

Get through that and there’s actually having somewhere to put them on.


Rio Olympics Table Tennis Women Source: Petros Giannakouris

Now, even though this is the Dublin 2024 Olympics, we will have to host some events away from the capital. It not only gives a benefit to the rest of the country, it makes sense.

In 2008, Beijing held its sailing events in Qingdao because the Chinese capital is landlocked, which is a problem for sailors. So we’ll put surfing in Clare or Sligo.

The Rio Olympics are being held in 18 existing, nine completely new and seven temporary venues. Many of these are built in clusters, for ease of transport and construction. We don’t want athletes milling all over town.

That means while we could use the 3Arena for say judo and wrestling, we would need to construct two 10,000+ capacity venues for basketball, fencing and taekwondo.

Brazil built their three arenas for around €550 million and it includes the press, broadcast and logistics centres. Because we’re using the 3Arena, we could probably get it done for €500 million. Rio also has a facility for the modern pentathlon fencing and women’s basketball. We can use the RDS Simmonscourt for those.

Rio Olympics Swimming Source: Martin Meissner

Their handball arena cost €35 million, the tennis centre €52 million and the velodrome €37 million. Rio purpose-built a €20 million golf club for the event, but we’ll just use one of our championship-calibre courses and save a few quid. While Rio built a BMX track, London included it in its velodrome complex.

All of the equestrian events can be held in the RDS, which is getting a facelift anyway and hosts major international tournaments.

The National Aquatic Centre already has 2,500 seats and world-class facilities, a €10 million of an expansion could work, right? Another €6 million would add the diving and synchronised swimming facilities.

In preparation for the Pan American games in Toronto, the city built a 2,000-seat stadium for around €7 million. A bigger venue would run close to €16 million.

For canoeing, Australia paid around €4 million for their facility back in 2000.

Rio Olympic Games 2016 - Day Eleven Source: Patrick Semansky

Football can be spread between Croke Park (which will host the opening ceremony), the Aviva Stadium, Windsor Park in Belfast and Thomond Park, while rowing will require a new facility costing around €25 million. In the spirit of decentralising the events, why not put it in Cork?

A new €60 million centre would be needed for volleyball and a €50 million facility would be needed to host gymnastics.

Rio has Riocentro to host boxing, table tennis and badminton. We would have to drop around €60 million on Lár Átha Cliath.

Other venues would add up to about €50 million before we get to the big ones.

The London 2012 village cost around €1.5 billion, selling before the games for around €1.2 billion.

Gary and Paul O'Donovan celebrate winning silver medals Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A new Olympic stadium almost bankrupted Montreal back in 1976 (the city just finished paying it off). The stadium in London cost €540 million but being used in Rio cost around €170 million. So it’s really a question of how much you have to spend. We have €6 billion to invest, but we want bang for our buck, so we’ll go for the median and say €350 million.

In total, without allowing for overruns, our venues are going to cost us at least €2.7 billion.



Once we get by the spending of a ridiculous amount on sporting venues across the city that would be white elephants within days, how are we fixed?

Well, we suggested building all of those venues, but not where to do it. The national sporting campus near Blanchardstown has some space to build, but not a whole lot, so we’re going for a greenfield site in the north of the county.

That’s not far from the original Metro North plan, which was costed around €2.4 billion. With lines to other facilities and Luas/Dart integration, we’re going to call it around €3 billion.

Another issue is hotels. Dublin already needs at least another 5,500 rooms to meet demand. Rio, for its part, has over 30,000 rooms. Investment would be needed to encourage the building required.

Rio Olympic Games 2016 - Preview Day Two The Rio Olympic village Source: Martin Rickett

And so our pot is dwindling. Rio spent around €200 million on security and staffing and we haven’t even touched marketing, ceremonies or upgrading medical facilities.

So, to sum up: no, you will not live to see the day that Dublin hosts the Olympic Games. I’m sure you had your hopes up and all.

Read: Poll: Has Ireland had a good Olympics?

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Paul Hosford


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