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Suddenly, Many World Cities Want to Hold Olympics

September 06, 1987|MORLEY MYERS | United Press International

LONDON — Finding cities willing to stage the Olympic Games once was about as difficult as finding an open-air jacuzzi in the Sahara desert. All that changed after the financial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.

Staging an Olympics is an expensive business and it's little wonder earlier bidders were cautious.

The 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games organization went bankrupt and Montreal has only recently finished paying off its debts for the 1976 Summer Games.

Los Angeles was an unwilling lone candidate for the 1984 Summer Olympics, while Seoul had Nagoya of Japan as its only rival in the 1981 bidding for the 1988 edition.

However, the California gold strike of 1984 was a monetary metamorphosis for the Olympics. The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee ended up with a $225 million profit and the L.A. success story, a tale of entrepreneurial expertise by committee president Peter Ueberroth, triggered a stampede of would-be successors.

Being host to the world's athletes, still doesn't come cheap--Seoul is spending $3.1 billion on the 1988 Summer Olympics--but L.A. showed the rewards can be even greater through TV revenue and sponsorship.

ABC paid a record $309 million for the U.S. rights for next year's Calgary Winter Games, while NBC won the bidding duel for Seoul, guaranteeing between $300 million and $500 million, depending on advertising revenue.

The message was plain to see in Lausanne last October when six Summer and six Winter candidates battled for the right to stage the 1992 Olympics, despite warnings from the American TV networks to expect much lower bids in the future--especially if the Games went to Europe.

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