Photo: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images
The London Olympics have had many, many nay-sayers. Illustrious names such as Mitt Romney and Business Insider had expressed doubts about the planning of the games, and whether the games would really be worth their final budget (thought to be around $13 billion by conservative estimates)?So now we are halfway through the games, lets take a step back to consider:
On the plus side, people seem to love the games
From the second the Opening Ceremony was over, there seemed to be a marked improvement in people’s perception of the games. The ceremony itself was a huge suc ess numbers-wise, becoming the most watched non-US ceremony ever, attracting 42 million viewers in the US alone. The games have broken viewing figure records in the UK, and NBC is reporting that their figures are 30 per cent better than expected.
Sports-wise, the taxpayers that funded the games could be getting their moneys worth. Britain saw a slow-start, but now sit third in the overall medal table. Saturday was their most successful day at the Olympics for the Brits in 104 years — and we’re sure at least some UK sporting fans will think that was a good investment. Even Andy Murray won!
Economics-wise, the impact of the games could be bad
It’s hard to gauge the Olympic impact of the games until they are over. Will London still be using that beautiful velodrome in 2062? There’s not really any way to tell right now.
Short term, the signs are mixed, probably more negative than positive. High-profile members of the tourism industry have called the games a “complete and utter disaster”, with bars, restaurants and taxis actually less full then they normally are this time of year. Economist Nouriel Roubini called London a “zombie city” that had scared away the country’s normal tourists with a scary mega-event.
On the other hand, London Mayor Boris Johnson is pointing to different figures that suggest some increases in retail spending and footfall in the last few days.
There have been no real disasters so far
Given the incredible fears about security at the event (private security contractor G4S failed to provide thousands of guards just before the games), we should probably be pretty glad that nothing terrible has happened. The games have seen a fair number of scandals (including three athletes sent home for racist or far-right sympathies) but nothing that the UK could have prevented.
Oh, except for that time they showed the South Korean flag before a North Korean woman’s soccer match.
In conclusion: a short-term success, but their long-term impact remains unclear
It’s been pretty amazing to see the British public suddenly go from weary scepticism before the games to un-ironic excitement during the games, and it’s hard to argue that the sporting events themselves have been anything less than a success.
But, that is a short-term success. The games that have been considered a success in the long term are the ones where they managed to change the city for the good (Barcelona is the great recent example). London could be changed for the better after the games, but will they change it enough to be considered a good investment? The indications that the event has hurt London’s economy certainly give us reason to worry.
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