Social Science blog

02 November 2012

Did the Olympics do the trick?

At last! The Olympics are over but not for yours truly! My BBC DVD of the event arrived on Monday and since then me and the cats have been reliving it all. Now I can stop watching my ‘England wins the Ashes’ DVDs when the TV is too full of soaps, antiques programmes and reality shows (i.e most of the time) and switch to some multi-sports. And it’s almost better the second time around: Bert le Clos enthusing about his son’s gold medal in the swimming; our first gold medal in the women’s coxless pairs; Bradley Wiggins; Jess Ennis. How fab it all was!

Now there’s other good news: after five years of zero growth the UK economy has been reported as coming out of recession, with a 1% growth rate for the last quarter. This has taken pundits by surprise, and has been partly put down to the Olympics, ticket sales for which contributed approximately a fifth of the increase in GDP. No only this, but there was a reported £500 million underspend on the Olympic budget.

The economic cost/benefit analysis of the Olympic & Paralympic Games is clearly well under way. And it is obvious - anecdotally - that there have been winners and losers already: the BBC & NBC saw viewing figures and potential revenues shoot up; some retailers, on the other hand, lamented the lack of people on the high street during Games time. It’s still early days though and the final analysis – if there can ever be such a thing - will take ages to complete with numerous factors having to be taken into account.

The DCMS helpfully explains the process on its website: According to the Department “a post Games initial evaluation will be published shortly after the Games, in spring/summer 2013. Prior to this, a number of interim outputs will also be published. Further research will be commissioned separately to look at the effect of the Games up to around 2020”. The Government has taken an optimistic view already and has estimated a potential £13 billion benefit to the UK economy in the next five years:

The many reports coming out of this research are keenly awaited, and DCMS has asked that anyone undertaking legacy research should let them know by filling in a form to be found on the webpage above. That way, track can be kept of what findings exist, where they are, and who has worked on them. With luck, that information will be available to researchers many years hence. And that’s what real legacy is all about!


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