What can we learn from previous Games? As noted earlier, the data
records for previous Winter Games is both spotty and inconsistent
and there has been little concerted effort to monitor post-Games
impacts by host governments. Tourism data is frequently reported out
of context. There is no standardized form of accounting of Games
costs. The official reports also tend be written in an anecdotal
style which leaves data open to interpretation.
We can say that Calgary (1988), Lillehammer (1994) and Nagano
(1998) all reported large increases in tourism volume during their
respective Games year. Calgary's results have been discussed above.
A study of the impact of the Lillehammer Games, conducted three
years after the Games, reported substantial and ongoing growth in
tourism volumes for Norway.
Even with perfect data, the experience of previous Games host
communities should be treated as broadly illustrative rather than
predictive for the next host community. There are lessons to be
learned from past experience but there are also political,
geographic and social factors unique to the host community or region
that influence both the host's approach to the Games and the outcome
of those Games. The Nagano Games is a case in point. The 1998 Winter
Games event was the most expensive Winter Games ever, by a large
margin. This outcome was not the result of poor planning or
execution. It was the result of a political decision by the host
government to stage the Games across four geographically dispersed
communities, requiring duplication of infrastructure and services.