One year on: Has the Olympics left a legacy?

27.07.2013 02:30

London (CNN) -- Over two-thirds of Britons
believe the £9 billion ($13.8 billion) bill for
the London Olympics was worth it, but
economists and business leaders argue it
could take years to see the economic
According to a poll by research consultancy
ComRes , released on the first anniversary of
the Games, 69% of participants said it was a
good investment of public money.
But only 22% of the public feel the Games
have had a positive impact on the local
economy in their area, with 67% saying the
Olympics had no impact at all.
Samuel Tombs, an economist at Capital
Economics, said there was an obvious boost
to UK economic growth during the Games but
it was too early to see a legacy benefit.
He told CNN: "I think there are question
marks over whether the £10 billion of public
money spent on the games could have been
better used... for example infrastructure
projects such as transport, that could have
yielded a higher economic return."
In the second-quarter of 2013, the U.K. grew
by 0.6% -- double the rate of expansion for
the first three months of the year --
suggesting Europe's third-largest economy is
on track for a recovery. Tombs said the
figures also showed growth in all areas of
the economy, which he noted was was a first
in recent years.
The UK contracted for five consecutive
quarters from the second quarter of 2008,
and failed to grow for another nine months
in late 2011 and early 2012 as the eurozone
debt crisis raged.
Although the cultural heritage of the
Olympics is important, it could take years
before we see its true economic value,
according to Tombs.
He said: "You often fail to see a boost in
tourism for the years after the Games and
obviously it's very hard to reuse the facilities
that have been built."
Director of Economics at
PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mark Ambler, said
the benefits may not be evident for at least
another 10 years. He told CNN: "On this
basis, the evidence I have been involved in
generating and that I have seen from others
suggests strongly that the UK will get a good
return on its investment, although I think
important parts of it are still to come."
Investment boost
On Thursday, Mayor of London Boris Johnson
said that the success of the Olympics and
Paralympics has spurred investment in the
U.K capital.
Speaking at a press conference, he said:
"Remember the fate of the Olympo-sceptics
is all I would say to anyone tempted to doubt
the legacy."
But according to Matthew Jaffa, spokesman
for the Federation of Small Businesses, not
enough is being done in the wake of the
Olympics to promote "Brand London" as an
He added: "The Games have had more of an
impact on London than the rest of the UK.
55% of the companies that won contracts,
directly related to the Olympics, saw growth
within the turnover of their business, which
is positive."
Despite skepticism from some quarters of the
business community, the ComRes poll --
which surveyed over 3,200 people -- also
showed that nearly three-quarters of Britons
would welcome the Olympic Games back
given the opportunity.
Political economist and and co-author of the
book 'The Olympics: How was it for us?' said
the Games were "a triumph of public
endeavour... it's a very good example of
what a very dynamic and focused public
sector can do."