Skip to main content

One year on: Has the Olympics left a legacy?

By Oliver Joy, CNN
updated 3:48 AM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
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
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT