Life & Culture

2012 could be a real money spinner


These are exciting times for the many of us who have applied for tickets for next year's London Olympic Games as we wait to see for which events we have been successful and, perhaps more importantly, how much of an impact our enthusiasm to witness this unique occasion is going to have on our bank balances.

As we do so, we could be forgiven for asking ourselves whether, at a time of substantial public expenditure cuts, low growth and higher taxation, the UK can really afford to stage this international sporting extravaganza. As local authorities find themselves in the unenviable position of having to decide which local amenities and services to fund and which to cease supporting, could the money allocated to the Olympics not be better spent?

Of course, when difficult decisions are being made over funding local hospitals and schools, it is understandable for these concerns to be aired. However, we need to bear in mind that the bulk of the cost of the Olympics has already been incurred on, for example, site preparation and infrastructure. Further, as a recent analysis by International Marketing Reports (IMR) has concluded, the actual cost of the Games is likely to be around £7.2 billion, much lower than the £9 billion forecasted.

The benefits to the UK economy could also be significant. For example, we will have at our disposal a number of new international sporting venues which will be available for many years after the Olympics have finished, so creating additional sources of revenue.

As the IMR report has highlighted, the regeneration of a large area of East London has also created important employment opportunities which will, hopefully, continue well beyond 2012.

Whilst the long-term impact upon tourism may be difficult to quantify, there should at least be a boost to the economy next summer as people flock to the UK for the Olympics themselves.

We should also be able to rely on a "feel good" factor similar to the one we experienced in April with the Royal Wedding, with the resulting knock-on effect on business and consumer confidence.

Whilst it is easy to question the value of hosting the Olympic Games, the likely benefits to our economy in both the short and long-term could be quite significant. In the meantime, I will be waiting patiently for my tickets.

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