Shenzhen wasted billions on World University Games, audit finds

Shenzhen's spending on world student event far exceeded budget and revenues, report says, but finds no serious breach by officials

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 5:11am

Shenzhen lost 12.8 billion yuan (HK$15.7 billion) on the World University Games last year, a review by the city's auditor has found.

The report said the international athletic event generated only 1.2 billion yuan in revenue, despite the 14 billion yuan spent by the city to upgrade sport facilities, provide security and host extravagant opening and closing ceremonies.

The auditor said it found no evidence of serious crimes involving the games, also known as the Universiade, despite investigations and prosecutions of at least eight senior officials, including former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng , which some had attributed to spending in preparation for the event. Xu received a suspended death sentence in May last year.

"[The audit bureau] traced the Universiade's preparation and operation between January 2008 and September 2012 and hasn't found any serious violation of laws and discipline from operational spending to stadium construction," the report said. It made no mention of the officials concerned.

The auditor did say, however, that it found 50 million yuan in "problematic" spending, such as 11 million yuan in purchases outside of procedures and 12 million yuan that was not spent according to budget.

The report noted several small problems, including 745,500 yuan spent on fuel for a sailing competition which only needed a fraction of that.

The report will likely do little to end controversy over the spending on the games, in part because the auditor's 14-billion-yuan figure is so much smaller than estimates previously reported by mainland media.

The mainland-based China Times reported that the games cost Shenzhen 300 billion yuan, including the cost of building 179 kilometres of subway linking the city centre, airport and outlying districts. Shenzhen audit authorities said they did not include such spending, in line with national auditing guidelines.

The auditor's sum was still high. Belgrade, by comparison, spent €75 million (HK$770 million) to host the games two years earlier.

The auditor said Shenzhen spent 7.5 billion yuan to build and renovate 61 sport venues, 4.5 billion yuan on operations and security and nearly two billion yuan on other supporting facilities. Opening and closing ceremonies cost 337 million yuan.

Meanwhile, the games generated only 58 million yuan in ticket sales.

In addition to Xu, senior Shenzhen officials involved with the games who are now facing allegations of corruption include former vice-mayor Liang Daoxing and the heads of Longgang district where the event was centred.

Liang, who spent four years overseeing preparations for the Universiade, was taken away by party disciplinary authorities last month.

Beijing News reported this month that event operations contracts were set at far above the market rate.

Liang's subordinate, Zhao Guanghua , deputy chief of the Universiade's executive board, was also placed under investigation in July.