Nice job, eh

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A few weeks ago I claimed that Canada hadn’t optimized its portfolio properly. Now that the Olympics are over, I can answer the question more definitively. Did Canada “Own the Podium?” Yes. According to the IOC’s convention, Canada ‘won’ the Olympics by winning the greatest number of golds.

Did they do so in a cost effective manner? That’s harder to answer. According to Own the Podium’s website Canada spent CDN$70M in pursuit of their 14 gold medals, or about CDN$5M per gold. However, they spent only CDN$14M on the 7 gold medals they won in 2006 (CDN$2M per gold). That makes sense because there’s some level of medal-winning to be expected even with no government support (e.g., the hockey team’s players were developed by amateur and professional leagues). It also makes intuitive sense that additional medals would take more effort to win if Canada had been deploying its resources effectively in the past (i.e., spending on the sports that were cheapest to win). In the end, those additional 7 golds cost CDN$55M extra – an incremental cost of CDN$8M per gold medal. That seems like a lot.

To put things in perspective, though, the operational budget for the Olympics ran to CDN$1.75B, which would make “Own the Podium” expenses 4% of the budget. In that context, Canada did just fine. They made a relatively small incremental investment and became the first host country to win the Winter Olympics gold medal count since Norway did in 1952. Nice job, eh?


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