Cities compete to host the Summer and Winter
Games, hoping to take a lead role on the global stage.
But winning an Olympic bid can be a mixed bag.
From a financial perspective, hosting the games is
risky. Every Olympic Games project portfolio since
1960 has gone over budget—and the average cost
overrun is 156 percent, according to a 2016 University of Oxford study that looked only at sports-related
costs, excluding general infrastructure projects.
Many communities are now questioning the
long-term financial value of Olympic venues, which
has led to a decline in host city applications. As
projects to support the 2016 Summer Olympic
Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ramped up, thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in protest.
But Rio 2016 project teams worked hard to win
over the skeptics. They reined in spending and built
venues they expect to serve the city for the long
term. For example, the games’ handball arena will
be dismantled to provide material for four new primary schools, and parts from the aquatics stadium
will be used to build two community swimming
centers. During the years leading up to the opening
ceremony, project management drove success.
“Effective project management allowed all
changes in the city to be done in a coordinated way
that involved all relevant stakeholders,” says Lucia
Mazoni, PMP, Olympic projects coordinator for
the Civil House State Government, Rio de Janeiro.
“It ensured the International Olympic Committee
DISCIPLINE AND CREATIVITY
(IOC) knew the status of all projects—both venues-
related projects and transportation projects.”
Upcoming host cities and the IOC have taken note.
Using a lessons learned process, the IOC is working
with Pyeongchang, South Korea (2018 Winter Games)
and Tokyo, Japan (2020 Summer Games) to continue
to repair the games’ troubled reputation.
After a recession began roiling the Brazilian economy
in 2014, the project teams delivering the 2016 Summer
Games had to tighten their belts. Project and program
managers across the portfolio revamped plans and
rethought every spending decision, says Flavia Dias,
PMP, former head of the technology program office
capture the world’s
the race begins
changes in the
city to be done
in a coordinated
way that involved
—Lucia Mazoni, PMP, Civil House
State Government, Rio de