SI: Games to Cost Taxpayers $1.5 Billion

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Salt Lake City, Utah Dec 5, 2001 (AP)--The Salt Lake Olympics will cost federal taxpayers an unprecedented $1.5 billion, Sports Illustrated reported in its Dec. 10 edition.

The magazine said the total is more than the combined federal spending on the previous seven Olympics held in the United States. The total includes all federal funding in any way attached to the Olympics, part of it for highway and light-rail construction.

Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney called the figure ``way wrong.''

``If someone wants to count the completion of a highway project in Utah as an Olympic project ... well, yeah, you can get federal dollars to be huge,'' Romney told Sports Illustrated.

A General Accounting Office report issued Nov. 26 pegged the cost to taxpayers at $342 million, a figure that doesn't include an estimated $50 million for additional security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sports Illustrated said Federal spending for the games will average $625,000 for each of the 2,400 athletes, a 996 percent increase from the $57,000 per athlete spent in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press