World Cup claimed to boost Russia’s economy by nearly $31 billion

This photo taken on Monday, April 23, 2018, shows an aerial view of the World Cup Luzhniki stadium with the Moscow River and the State University in the background in Moscow, Russia. The Luzhniki stadium will hold the 2018 World Cup final. (Dmitry Serebryakov/AP)

MOSCOW — This summer’s World Cup could have a total impact on the Russian economy of nearly $31 billion, organizers predicted Wednesday.

A new report on the economic impact of the tournament said the boost for the country’s GDP could amount to between 1.62 trillion rubles ($26 billion) and 1.92 trillion rubles ($30.8 billion) over the 10 years from 2013 through to 2023.

That’s attributed to growing tourism plus large-scale spending on construction, plus later knock-on effects from those government investments. It even suggests the World Cup will encourage Russians to exercise more, so they take fewer sick days.

The World Cup "has a considerable economic effect," Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich says in the report. "The tournament has already boosted the economic development of the host regions and will continue to have a positive long-term economic impact."

The report says the total spend on the tournament will be 683 billion rubles ($11 billion), though that doesn’t include some costly new infrastructure and stadiums which organizers say would have been built regardless. Around 220,000 jobs have been created, the report says.

Economic impact figures for earlier tournaments have been hotly disputed, given the difficulty of separating the World Cup from other economic factors.

Russia also spent big to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, with as much as $50 billion spent according to one government estimate. The Olympics were seen as key to national prestige — much as the World Cup is today — and became the costliest Winter Games in history.

That lavish spending helped to turn the host city of Sochi into a major year-round tourism hub for Russians, though opposition activists accused the government of allowing waste and large-scale corruption.

The government later claimed the true cost of the Sochi Olympics was much lower and insisted it would have built major rail and road upgrades even if the games had not been in town.


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