ATHENS -- The bill arrived for the Athens Olympics yesterday -- about $11.6 billion, and it might climb higher.
The tally announced by the government was almost double the original estimate, making the Games by far the most expensive in Olympic history. The 2000 Sydney Olympics cost $1.5 billion and the 1996 Atlanta Games $1.72 billion.
"This is the immediate cost for the state and does not include expenditures for infrastructure," finance minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said after a Cabinet meeting. He did not give a figure for the infrastructure costs.
Those costs include expensive transportation projects such as a new tram line, suburban rail network, and the extension of the Athens metro system to the airport. The tram alone cost at least $344 million.
"There is a huge overrun in relation to original estimates," Alogoskoufis said.
The government also has not said what it will do with more than $2.83 billion in new or refurbished sports venues. A recent government study predicted it will take $103.8 million a year for the maintenance and operation of Olympic sites, including the main stadium complex. Alogoskoufis insisted that paying for the Athens Games will not place a serious burden on Greece's budget. Athens also had the highest security bill in Olympic history at $1.39 billion -- nearly the entire cost of the Sydney Games.