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
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 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