How can we afford the Olympic Games?

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Andyvon | 19:47 Sun 31st Oct 2010 | Sport
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I don't see how we can. The recent spending cuts show what a desperate financial condition the UK is in today. Being realistic, there's not going to be an economic reversal that sees the economy and the hopes of the British people return to that of 30 or 40 years ago. The country is broke and it will remain so now that the farming, manufacturing, financial and energy-producing base that made us so wealthy has gone.

How can we afford to host the Olympics in 2012? The games always cost host nations billions and the examples of the Millenium Dome, Wembley Stadium, Scottish Parliament Building etc show that anything here will always be massively over-budget. It can't be argued that the games will bring in revenue from tourism, trade or investment. No Olympic host makes money from the games and most take years to repay the costs. Montreal has only just finished paying for the 1976 games.

Secondly, the UK infrastructure will struggle to cope too. The roads, air and rail systems are inadequate for normal use. What will happen to traffic when the games are on is anyone's guess!

Seeing as the nation and the average individual are losing so much money now, I really think the games should go to a country who can afford them. Possibly the Gulf states, Russia, US or China again etc.


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I'm sorry, but if Delhi with all the problems they had can pull off the Commonwealth Games, then we can more than cope with The Olympics.

It's a fantastic honour to host these games and one which will showcase the UK as being an awesome country-still!

And lastly, can't we have some light relief form all this doom and gloom of the recession? The Games will be a great moral booster.
you may be too pessimistic - Montreal was an anomaly; some games do show a profit

I can't vouch for the accuracy of those figures, and I don't suppose China will ever say how the Beiing games turned out.

But there's a legitimate argument for seeing some of the cost as investment - in urban renewal, in providing usable sports facilities, and in raising the profile of the city and country (though I can't see that London currently has a low profile).
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Maybe I am being too pessimistic jno. I do stand up to be corrected if someone thinks I'm wrong. I must admit that I haven't particularly looked into the finances of previous Olympics but I just thought it was generally accepted that the hosts lost a lot of money.

It would certainly be nice to have some relief from the doom and gloom, but from where? Cheer me up please someone! I'm listening and happy to be cheered. I hope it does go well.
I was absolutely gutted when I heard the decision to award the games to London. I was inconsolable for days.

All Olympics cost the host nation huge sums of money and the London games will be no exception. Much is being made of the “legacy” they will leave. There will be only one – huge debt for all taxpayers for years to come. There has been little benefit to local people in terms of employment created. The upheaval caused to locals (and indeed to other residents of London and the south east as they carted the excavated spoil around all over the place) has been enormous.

Whilst the games are on moving anywhere in London will be an absolute nightmare. All the TV channels will be filled with second rate repetitive tat. (Once you get to the fifteenth heat of the women’s 60 metre underwater high hurdles it all gets a bit tedious).

After the games accommodation in the Olympic Village will simply be gobbled up by spivs and sold on at enormous profit. It cannot even be decided what to do with the stadium after the event and huge amounts of other facilities will, in all likelihood, just end up as a herd of white elephants.

Much play is made of the infrastructure that has been provided. Well all of this could have been built without the need for an expensive ego trip to be facilitated for politicians and officials.

Me – I’m looking for somewhere to go with no TV, no newspapers and no continual “analysis”, “review”, “highlights”, “features” and “expert opinion”. Oh, and no ridiculous hold ups caused by road closures put in place to allow the Senegal ladies’ beach volleyball team to get from their accommodation in Stratford to Horse Guards Parade unfettered by plebs out and about trying to earn a living.
New Judge, do have grounds for disputing the figures in the link I gave above? (Not a rhetorical question.) All development causes disruption - even the repairing of water mains has been tangling London up for years - but that's normal in cities. Likewise the closing of the streets for visiting dignitaries; sooner the Senegal ladies team than the pope, as far as I'm concerned. And while it has not yet been decided what to do with the stadium, there seems to be no shortage of applicants, with West Ham apparently the frontrunners.

Regarding the TV coverage, I won't be watching much of it, but I would be highly surprised if "all" the channels are full of it: there are a great many channels these days, and you should be fine watching The World's Ugliest Wombats on one of the lesser Sky channels or studies of Rembrandt on Arts.
Quite true, jno.

I was being a bit flippant and I'm prone to over exaggeration and mild hysteria where sporting events are concerned. However, visits by foreign dignitaries will pale into insignificance when this little fiesta gets under way.

As far as the TV goes I was not thinking of the “fringe” channels such as Dave or Channel Four but I’ll wager now that the BBC has more staff covering the events than GB has competitors.
agree with BOO, esp her last point.
have experienced no disruption from soil being moved, they actually did a lot of that by river - I saw it go past my flat on regular basis.

Transport links are now far better than they ever have been. Where I live we now have Dlr, trains, a river service and city airport close by. Plus that the 'town' itself is being redeveloped, which would never have happened if it was not in the Olympic catchment area. I have known the area for a long time and it is much improved already.

And it has created jobs - I know several builders that have had regular steady work either at the stadium or on the transport links being refurbished or built.

I support West Ham - we are the most likely candidate for using it after the games, so it will be used, esp since they have agreed to keep the running tracks and allow use for concerts etc.

And I've got absolutely nothing from it, Hazel.

Oh, that's not quite true. Unfortunately the river does not pass my front door and my neighbours and I got convoys of twelve wheeled lorries full of mud trailing along the main road near to my house. They ran for 22 months from January ‘08 to October '09 at five minute headways, six days a week. I estimated they made well over 50,000 trips at 30 miles per round trip (a figure not disputed by my local authority in my correspondence with them) so covered over 1.5 million miles. And then I see My “Lord” Coe spouting on the TV about the “Greenest Games ever”. I actually spoke to Lord Coe on an LBC phone-in and explained our plight. He suggested that "some inconvenience with a project of this size is inevitable" Yeah, right.

Don’t make me laugh. The bit you saw on the river was obviously the “Green” bit. The bit my neighbours and I endured was the Dirty Brown bit.

Can't wait for the games to start (and end).
not a fan of Lord Coe, but I think he's right, NJ. That's what cities are. They stage big events (there's a reason why Wembley isn't in Rutland), they offer a wide range of employment, they are focuses for all sorts of cultural activities; conversely there are big disruptions associated with all these things, plus frequent minor disruptions to everyday life (from, say, tube breakdowns). You could live in a village on Dartmoor and get neither the roadworks nor the theatres. Cities, like villages, have their pluses and minuses. It's just a choice we have to make with our lifestyles.

Personally, I expect to have nothing much to do with the Olympics and am not much interested in sports. But I think staging them is a legitimate business of government (national and local), and a suitable financial investment. I'll continue to think so even if they end up modestly in the red, since investments are never guaranteed to make a profit. (I may feel differently if they're so mismanaged that they lose billions, though.)
There was an interesting take on the minds of people like Lord Heseltine, who first mooted the idea of the Dome, and all those politicans who boasted of its 'legacy' - that if these men had been around in the twelfth century, they would have been commsissioning the construction of cathedrals - for that was the way for a massive ego to stamp his mark on his world after he had gone.

Now of course, the world is a more secular place, but the dome-sized egos of politicians live on, and that is why we bid for events that we cannot really afford - because the ego-monsters want their names all over them - even wqhen they quietly walk away from the issues and debt that they leave behind.

We have neither the infrastructure, the wherewithall to get it in place, nor the finance, nor, and this is the most important point - the sporting pedigree to be a credible host nation.

We did have, have, and will always have, more important things on which to spend this huge amount of money.

Unless of course they want to fund it from the defence budget, in which case - feel free.
unfair, andy - Britain has a very lengthy sporting pedigree and picked up quite a lot of Olympic medals in Beijing. The infrastructure is being built, as it is in all cities that have hosted the games; maybe it will turn out to be inaedquate, or a series of white elephants, but we have no way of knowing yet.

And the Dome is the most popular music venue in the world, by a huge margin

A couple of points - The DLR - River service and City Airport all existed before we got the games they were not built becuse of the games.

All Olympic games make a profit because it all go's to the IOC any money made by the host city are swallowed by the costs. I was lucky enough to go to Calgary a few years ago they are still paying for thier games.

Road closures, they intend to close one lane through the Blackwall tunnel for 17 days ensuring that the people who live here and drive through it daily face a complete nightmare. They intend to close lanes or raod through London for the duration. Spin tells us its only a small percentage but as anyone know a small road closure can cause massive disruption.

The wants and needs of the people who live in this city are being ridden roughshod over, but those who say what a Great Event for the "country" this is, label us as kill joys.

But we face complete misery for a minimum for at least three weeks and then will have the pleasure of paying for it for years to come,
jno - I concede to your argument about the sporting pedigree - although it is still woefully disproportionate compared with the outlay and perceived benefit.

As for the dome - yes it is a major music venue, and had it been conceived, designed and built as such, then no argument.

It was conceived as some dog's breakfast of science and 'culture', roundly ignored by the populace.

The figures were there from the start - in order to break even on its costs, the dome would have needed a visitor list the size of an Old Trafford home game crowd every single day of its deigned opening period - who seriously ever thught that was feasible?

So yes, it is a music venue, but that's nothing to do with the egotist politicians who dreamed up the whole farce in the first place.
Sorry didn't realise you had so much trouble New Judge.
Have you really not noticed any improvements in the area even if they have not impacted on you directly? I'm not being rude, genuinely interested.

I guess it shows how different people perceptions of the whole thing is, even those who live in the same sort of area.
Quite so, Dave, could not agree more.

I don’t live anywhere near the Olympic site, jno. In fact I live some fifteen miles away on the south side of the river. Far enough away to be unaffected by the benefits, but not, it seems, far enough away to be affected by the mayhem.

I will gain absolutely nothing from the Games. No improved infrastructure, no job opportunities for the local population, no chance of cheap tickets (for me to sell on), no use of the “legacy” facilities. Nothing! I chose not to live in London because I cannot stand the place. If “London” wants to stage the Olympics that’s fine by me, but I don’t see why the area in which I live should be the recipient of up to a million tons of mud dug up to accommodate them.
as I recall, the original plan was that the dome was to be an exhibition centre and subsequently be used as a sports centre available for concerts. It was all rather vague, but the music venue part actually worked out. That seems like a plus rather than a minus to me. And egotist or not, nobody actually credits Heseltine with it though they were ready to blame him and Blair for anything that went wrong with it.

One reason for all this is the one I put forward in an earlier post: London is a great metropolis, the sort of place where major concerts are routinely held. The dome is a fitting venue for a city this size. And the downside: the infrastructural problems I also mentioned - that the Jubilee line barely works at weekends.
I have no problem with London hosting the games, and, as a sports insider, I think we do have the pedigree and the talent to do really well. I have no real problem with the funding as originally proposed, though I do think the budget needs firmer control. What i do have problems with is the sporting legacy. The main stadium will (probably) be handed over to a football club - as if that bloated "sport" needed any more help. Other venues are to be demolished and thrown on the scrap heap. As I see it, Britain had the opportunity to provide top class sporting facilities and national venues for just about every Olympic sport that needed them; with good planning, even allowing for being constrained by being in London, there could have been a permanent sporting set-up that could have underpinned decades of greater achievement. Instead we are effectively spending billions on supporting West Ham FC, and "regenerating" a small part of East London.
It is a plus jno - but my point is that the Dome enjoys a profitable present and future, not because of the people who conceived its original purpose, but in spite of it.

I find it hard to envisage such a happy outcome for the nation - and not just people who live within a twenty-mile radius of the Olympic sites.
Last time the Games were held in London was a time of great austerity. We should use that as a model for this one.

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