Winter Olympics opening ceremony's $100M stadium to be used just 4 times

Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in South Korea will likely be the most-watched sports venue in the world on Friday night during the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Games, but the costly arena won’t be around for long.

The stadium, which cost $100 million to construct and was finished in late 2017, will be used for just four events – the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in February and Paralympic Winter Games in March. After that, officials will tear down Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, a 35,000-seat stadium built in a South Korean county with 40,000 residents, rather than watch it become a “white elephant” like Olympic venues in previous host countries that fell into disuse.

Costs for the opening ceremony itself are harder to pin down. The extravagant opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, featured hundreds of performers and cost $780 million, the Guardian reported at the time. Other recent opening ceremonies have been less opulent. The event cost $42 million for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and roughly half that sum for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to Reuters.

This year’s opening ceremony in South Korea will incorporate a theme of peace, according to event organizers. Several South Korean musicians are scheduled to perform at the event, which will air in more than 200 countries.

"Peace is the most important message, as we are the only divided country in the world," said Song Seung-whan, the general director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, according to Nikkei Asian Review. "We want to let the world know about the pain of division and our desire for peace."

The 2018 Winter Olympics are expected to cost South Korea roughly $13 billion in total – a significant increase compared to initial estimates of about $7 to $8 billion. However, this year’s games will still cost far less than the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where the final tally purportedly bloomed to more than $50 billion, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.