Security costs for the Vancouver Olympics ballooned almost five times over the course of the games’ preparation, according to a report issued in the Canadian parliament last month. Security, originally estimated at $175 million when the games were awarded in 2002, eventually cost the Canadian taxpayer nearly $854 million.
Twelve departments contributed to security at the games, which included an elaborate computer security mechanism operated by contractor Atos Origin.
National Defence spent $231 million, while the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) spent $11 million to help screen officials. Canada Post spent $652,000 screening the mail, while Public Health was allotted $900,000 for health surveillance.
Significantly, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which spent the lion’s share of the security budget at $522 million, felt considerably pressured by a lack of resources, according to U.S. diplomatic cables obtained this month by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
“Law enforcement representatives working at the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver are reporting that more and more of their contacts are being pulled to work on Olympics security issues,” said the cable, quoting Consul General Philip Chicola, a year before the Olympics opened. “A [Drug Enforcement Administration] agent was told by one of his RCMP counterparts that by September all regional drug agents could be working on the Olympics, with no investigations ongoing until March 2010.”
The security bill for the Olympics, which were held in March 2010, was significantly revised last year to $900 million, meaning that the final bill came in under the revised budget.
The Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee claimed to have broken even in its final budgetary analysis of the Olympic games, although critics pointed out that it had returned for more money since the games were awarded, inflating its budget. The games eventually cost $1.8 billion.