Let the games begin: Winter Olympics 2018

After many years of preparation and with the expectations of winter sport fans around the world growing, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics Opening Ceremony starts off on Friday. As with the games in Beijing and London, Munich Re will be the leading risk partner in South Korea.


Worldwide television audience figures will be measured in the billions by the close of the two weeks but the viewing figures for the Opening Ceremony alone will run into 100’s of millions. 102 events will be contested in all by some 3,000 athletes coming from 93 countries and involve over 50,000 employees/volunteers/officials to navigate the two weeks.

Munich Re has nearly 50 years’ experience of negotiating the cancellation insurance for these global sports events and Pyeongchang is no different working with a wide range of insurance/reinsurance partners and their respective financial contractual liabilities. The insurable interests vary from global sports bodies, national organising committees, TV companies, sponsors, merchandise manufacturers, travel companies, hotel owners and many more.  Munich Re’s final overall exposure will be close to Euro 250m and this cover attracts rates measured in percentages rather than per mille with significant deductible levels which reflect the very real exposures faced by a Winter Olympics in particular.

The Cancellation cover ranges from complete cancellation and/or abandonment through to postponement and curtailment. Apart from the now sadly ever present Terror threat and obvious exposure to snow fall, either too much or too little, the nature of Winter Olympics disciplines often require very precise operating environments ranging from humidity as well as temperature levels for ice events to wind and visibility issues around skiing. It has been confirmed to us by organisers that the sliding centre represents the most technically advanced and complex venue of all Olympic disciplines – Summer or Winter.   

Every Olympics seems destined to attract its very own bespoke negative press comment in the lead up to the Games. Undoubtedly the dominant theme in the last 12 months has been the relationship of North Korea with its neighbours and the wider world. It must be immensely pleasing for all involved to see that, in this context at least, the prospect of a global sporting spectacle in the region has de-escalated tensions for the time being. Those of us old enough to remember successive boycotting of Olympics in Moscow and Los Angeles in the 1980’s will recognise that this was not always the case. 

Munich Re brings in unrivalled prerequisites for comprehensively assessing insurance positions at the Olympic Games. We are able to engage for example political risk and weather expertise and combine this with many years of experience gained from attending these types of events in their planning and construction stage. We also maintain a close dialogue with the insureds themselves who remain largely constant even if venues change every two years. We can also take significant comfort that for any Olympics the key stakeholders’ interests are fully aligned. Whether it is the national Government, the local organisers, the athletes, spectators, broadcasters and indeed insurers, they are all working hard to ensure a successful completion of the event.