Skip to main content

One year on: Has the Olympics left a legacy?

By Oliver Joy, CNN
July 29, 2013 -- Updated 0748 GMT (1548 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • ComRes poll: 22% of the public feel the Games have had a positive impact on the local economy
  • In the second-quarter, the U.K. grew by 0.6%, double the rate of expansion for the first three months of 2013
  • Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that the success of the Olympics and Paralympics has spurred investment

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 benefits.

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 exporter.

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.

Andrew Simms, political economist and and co-author of the book 'London 2012 - 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."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1207 GMT (2007 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT