Next year's Winter Games in Sochi already are the most expensive Olympics in history, and it's not even close.
The Associated Press says the bill stands at $51 billion, easily outpacing the $40 billion cost of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and dwarfing the $14.3 billion needed to run last year's Summer Games in London. This, despite the fact that the Winter Games feature fewer sports and individual events.
State-controlled companies and tycoons have underwritten more than half the cost. In some cases the tycoons are taking big losses to stay on President Vladimir Putin's good side, according to the AP.
"If you want to carry on doing business in Russia, here's the tax you need to pay — the kind of a tax that he wants you to pay," Mikhail Kasyanov, the former prime minister under Putin and now an opposition leader, told the AP.
Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister who's also part of the opposition, told the AP that Russian big business “is heavily dependent on the government and often has to follow Putin's requests and take on projects that are important for top officials.”
Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, issued a written statement to the AP saying its contribution in Sochi is "both a business project and serious social responsibility." Gazprom is spending $3 billion on a pipeline to bring gas supplies to Sochi, among other major projects.
The Games begin Feb. 7.