UK pleased with Olympic profits
18 £10 billion estimate of boost to trade since Games queried by critics
LONDON: The economic benefits of hosting the Olympics in London already outweigh the £9 billion (R13.56bn) of public money spent on the Games, said the UK government.
A year on, the Games remain a fond memory for most Britons who recall the triumphs of runner Mo Farah and cyclist Chris Hoy but have gone back to their daily routines in a country where the economy is showing signs of life after a long stagnation.
Keen to show that the London 2012 Games had a lasting impact, the government said it calculated Britain had enjoyed a £9.9bn boost to trade and investment from staging the event. Spending by foreign tourists also rose by £600m in 2012.
But while the figures show Britain well on the way to surpassing a target of £1bn in economic impact set by Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the Games, economists had previously questioned the basis for government predictions.
They caution that it is difficult to quantify the economic impact of major sporting events like the Olympics and that the sums involved tend to be relatively modest.
Britain tried to use the international attention focused on the Olympics to showcase itself as a place to do business. The government ran a series of conferences in parallel with the Games for hundreds of executives.
“We are harnessing the Olympic momentum and delivering the lasting business legacy of the Games that will help make Britain a winner in the global race,” Prime Minister David Cameron said.
A separate report by a consortium led by accountants Grant Thornton said the Games could generate benefits of between £28 and £41bn.
UK Trade and Investment said the figures included £5.9bn of sales from conferences around the Games, £2.5bn of additional inward investment and £ 1.5bn of contracts for forthcoming Olympics and World Cups with Brazil and Russia.
It included an investment in London’s landmark Battersea power station by a Malaysian consortium. Also listed were projects involving Chinese technology company Huawei, Indian software firm Infosys and US architects Gensler.
Figures aside, Britain looks to be well on the way to finding new uses for the expensive facilities built for the Games in east London, although there has been some grumbling over the deals struck.
Premier League soccer club West Ham United are to move into the Olympic Stadium in 2016, ensuring that it remains a part of the city’s sporting landscape but securing only an initial £15m for a stadium that will have cost taxpayers more than £500m.
The stadium has not been used since the Paralympics last September but will come back to life next week when it hosts the Anniversary Games athletics meeting which is expected to feature Jamaican sprint champion Usain Bolt.
The most tangible result of the games for now is the changes wrought to a once forgotten and polluted corner of the city’s industrial east of Stratford, one of the poorest parts of the capital. – Reuters