UK pleased with Olympic prof­its

18 £10 bil­lion es­ti­mate of boost to trade since Games queried by crit­ics

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BUSINESS -

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

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