Were The Olympics Good Or Bad For London?

By M@ Last edited 125 months ago
Were The Olympics Good Or Bad For London?

Yuck, what a horrible question. Very few things in life are wholly good or bad, especially something as big and complex as London 2012. Yet its interesting to drill down into specific areas, which are more measurable and objective. Here, then, are all the headlines we've seen that suggest that London 2012 was good for x, or bad for y. Please do leave a comment if you've got additions to the lists.

London 2012 was good for...

Volunteering — 70,000 people gave up their time to ensure the Games ran smoothly. They did so with unfaltering cheer and good humour. Their efforts have reportedly spurred a further 100,000 people to pledge time for good causes.

Marriage — An online divorce company reported a 25% drop in divorce enquiries during the Olympic period, compared with the same weeks in other recent years. Correlation does not necessarily indicate causation, however.

Staff morale — A survey of managers found the Games caused little disruption to productivity, and boosted staff morale.

The Olympic movement — There's no question that London 2012 was one of the best organised ever. IOC President Jacques Rogge said the games "refreshed the Olympic movement".

Attitudes to disability — Lord Coe described the Paralympics as having "a seismic effect in shifting public attitudes" towards disabled sports. Following the success of London 2012, it was announced that an annual festival of disabled sport would take place in the Olympic Park.

Transport — While there were criticisms that Transport for London might have over-stated the impact of the Games (easy with hindsight), the overall performance was far better than most people expected. The Games have also left London with transport legacies such as the DLR extension, as well as plenty of data on operating priority lanes and extended timetables.

Danny Boyle — The creative force behind the Opening Ceremony is hotly tipped for a knighthood. After the Queen attended his party in spectacular style, it would only be polite for him to parachute into her honours ceremony.

Boris Johnson — Despite hanging out with the deeply unpopular Rupert Murdoch, and his famous zip-wire pratfall, our Teflon Mayor was the political gold medallist at the Games. His rousing speech outside Buckingham Palace at the end of the Games received a deafening cheer from the assembled throng.

Jobs — The Games gave a significant boost to employment, with an estimated 100,000 jobs created over summer. The effect might only be temporary, however, as many of these roles were short term.

Londonist — our number of visitors reached an all-time high over the Olympic period. Where have you all gone now, eh?

London 2012 was bad for...

London Zoo, Tower of London, Kew Gardens — These and other tourist attractions reported around 20% fewer vistiors over the summer, though the weather might also have been a factor.

London Pleasure Gardens — The Docklands attraction hoped to enchant thousands of visitors in a series of high profile events. Instead, it was soon placed into administration amid organisational chaos.

Bookies — Ladbrokes saw a 4.9% drop in gambling over the summer months, partly down to the Olympics, partly the weather.

Bigots — Mo Farah and co demonstrated once again that British heroes can come from all kinds of backgrounds. The whole nation cheered on as the former Somalian refugee became a national hero. As Eddie Izzard writes: "Some people in the UK stupidly want to denigrate refugees, so you knew these people were having a bad day when Mo won."

G4S — The security firm was roundly criticised for failing to recruit enough security staff.

Tower Hamlets — The borough lost the marathon (becoming the only Olympic borough not to host any events) and by compensation received the dubious honour of having Brick Lane declared "London's curry capital" by LOCOG (who in turn got into a stew with the British Curry Awards).

West End shops — Large department stores and small Oxford Street kiosks both reported a drop in visitor numbers. "Everyone's either in Stratford, or the Londoners who usually shop here have gone away until the Olympics are over," said one Selfridges employee.

Hospitality operators — in an industry survey, 70% of respondents reckon their business was either negatively affected or unaffected. It's hard to take this one seriously, though, as the survey size is tiny (150), and that 70% could be largely neutral rather than negative. Also, Deloitte found almost the opposite.

London 2012 may or may not have been good for...

The wider British economy — The question of whether the Games will ever break even, or make a profit on the £9.3 billion public expenditure is a tricky one to answer. What exactly to include on the balance sheet is debatable, and will keep economics PhDs in work for some time. Reports today, however, suggest at least a temporary economic fillip from the Jubilee and Olympics.

Local residents — Some neighbours to the Olympic Park (and other venues) hated every moment of it. Some had missiles parked on their roofs. A few people were subject to compulsory purchase orders or eviction notices early in the preparations. Others enjoyed being close to the action, or made money from renting out a property, or might see an increase in their property value thanks to the Olympic effect. This one is totally subjective, and multi-faceted.

Last Updated 22 October 2012