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Olympic fun and Games cost $500m
Olympic fun and Games cost $500m

Australians will have coughed up more than $500 million to take part and enjoy the London Olympics.

From taxpayer contributions for sporting teams to the money key sponsors pay to be associated with the Olympic rings, the next fortnight will be the most expensive overseas Games.

And there are warnings that Australia faces a blowout in the cost per gold medal with our team unlikely to savour as many victories as in Sydney and Athens.

Since Australia's poor performance at Montreal in 1976, when the team won just one silver and four bronze medals, the nation has sunk an increasing amount of money into chasing Olympic glory.

In the past four years, the Australian Sports Commission will have invested more than $324 million into these Olympic and Paralympic Games. That includes money spent on the Australian Institute of Sport, which was created in the wake of the Montreal Games.

The swimming team alone received $32 million from taxpayers, the rowing team $26.5 million and $25 million has kept the wheels of the cycling team turning.

The athletics team received almost $25 million and the fencing fraternity, which failed to qualify a competitor, got $141,600.

This taxpayer cash does not include long-term investments, such as AIS facilities or money raised from direct fundraising.

Various State Olympic committees set the goal to raise $15 million to send athletes to London.

This year, the WA Olympic Committee raised $175,000 from more than 1000 people at a fundraising event in Perth.

There is also cash from broadcasting rights and licensing arrangements with the Nine Network and partner Foxtel paying $120 million for the rights to cover the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the London Games.

University of NSW academic James Connor said the $500 million was an underestimate of what it cost to get to the Games.

Infrastructure costs such as for pools, State sport institute spending, sponsorships and the out-of-pocket costs of athletes and their families were usually hidden.