The stunning cost of hosting the Olympics throws many nations into debt, but Peter Ueberroth, who headed up the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, kept the checkbook close and the government money out of reach.
“They must be kept more purely athletic,” he told TIME in a 1983 cover story. “[M]ore dignified, more discreet and more in accordance with the classic artistic requirements. The Games must be more intimate and, above all, the Games must be less expensive.”
The Los Angeles games were to be the first privately funded Olympics, and Ueberroth made a point not to take charity. Venues were refurbished or repurposed – the Memorial Coliseum was the hub of activity, and the usual Olympic Village was spread across the university campuses scattered around Los Angeles. Anything that needed to be built was advertiser-funded.
His grace under fire (and a tight budget) led to a prosperous Olympics in Los Angeles – and great personal success for himself: Ueberroth, who ended up with a nearly $250 million surplus from the games, was named TIME’s Man of the Year in 1984.