Monday, 2 January 2012

Another Olympics Justification Bites The Dust

From the Graun,
Hugh Robertson, has admitted that the aim of the London 2012 Games to inspire a million more people to get involved in sport has no chance of being realised.
The target was believed to be the brainchild of the Labour government rather than the Olympic organisers and was widely quoted during London's successful bidding process.
But less than seven months before the London Games are due to begin, only 110,000 extra people have taken up a new sport and Robertson, the minister for sport and the Olympics, said: "It is disappointing – a million sounds like a target that was plucked off the wall and it was."
Well, yes. The civil service even did a report into the Olympics and other mega sporting events back in 2002 (signed off by Blair and Jowell) which said this. It's good of Hugh to point this out, though.
"Do I think it's money well spent? Yes I do," Robertson told the Sunday Times. "The opening is a spectacular. Get it wrong and we will spend three or four days batting back why was the opening ceremony such a failure. It will kick the thing off in the worst possible way.
"Given the importance we are putting as a country and using 2012 to drive economic growth and tourism, it would be foolish not to spend what is necessary to lay on a good opening ceremony. Danny Boyle [artistic director for the opening ceremony] is a top professional and has produced an extraordinarily good ceremony."
Oh dear. The Olympics are not a magnet for tourists. The European Tour Operators Association have looked into the effect of the Olympics on tourism. There's a drop during the games (as non-Olympics people avoid the massive disruption) and no obvious growth was seen. Of course, the government will trot out some "this time it will be different" and in 2 years time I'll be reporting how it wasn't.

Something that does concern me about the Olympics is that there's actually a huge risk of a disaster, but no real gains from it. I have 2 memories of Atlanta: Michael Johnson's magnificent 200m world record and a bomb. And for most people, it's the bomb. Google Munich Olympics, and you won't find much mention of Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut.

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