Olympic legacy: White elephant or economic viagra?

“Indeed, a substantial, well-researched academic literature shows that if anything the reverse is true: hosting big sporting events is an economic burden.”


But not if you’re a Union Leader.

Brendan Barber…the man who thinks not turning up for work and spending lots of money you don’t have is the way to prosperity.

 “We can’t muddle through greening our economy – we need investment, planning and an Olympic-style national crusade.”

 All morning the BBC has been informing us that Barber insists that spending as we did on the Olympics shows that such investments can provide us with a economic legacy that fills the Chancellor’s coffers…..nice to see a Union leader in tune with the Government then. 

The difference being that the BBC do not gainsay Barber…unlike when the Government similarly insisted that we would have an Olympic legacy measured in real gold not just medals….always a vain hope I would have thought rather obviously.


Not so long ago the BBC told us that the government’s hopes for an Olympic Spring in the finances were delusional…….

‘It will be years before we know whether UK plc will get its money back, let alone make a profit on the Games, but most economists agree major sporting events rarely bring lasting financial reward.

The government will have its work cut out to buck the trend.’

The FT concurred:

Happiness is only legacy from Olympics

For years, a favourite word of London’s Olympic organisers has been “legacy”. The games were not just meant to be a fortnight of joy, but rather they would boost Britain’s economy and “inspire a generation” to play sport. David Cameron, prime minister, has named Lord Coe, chairman of the London organising committee, as the country’s Olympic legacy ambassador, and spoke of “making sure we turn these games into gold for Britain”.

It feels intuitive that hosting such a memorable event should leave a legacy. But economists who study the topic almost all agree that it doesn’t. Britain will probably get only one intangible benefit: increased happiness.

Politicians in any hosting country invariably promise economic benefits. However, Stefan Szymanski, sports economist at the University of Michigan, says not one credible academic study backs this up. “Indeed, a substantial, well-researched academic literature shows that if anything the reverse is true: hosting big sporting events is an economic burden.”


Didn’t hear much of that kind of clear thinking this morning from the BBC.

Seems that the same message has different meanings when spoken by different people when the BBC comes to interpret it.



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31 Responses to Olympic legacy: White elephant or economic viagra?

  1. Old Goat says:

    Are the Olympics finally over? They are? Thank Christ for that.

    Back to normal, then. The fireworks, jolly games, circus acts, trapeze artistes and the rest of the conglomeration of leftie/soci-diverse clowns can all go home in the knowledge that it’ll soon be back to the same old, same old.

    How on earth anyone can think that a few weeks of jolly, sporting games is going to make everything all right again, having spent God knows how many public millions, defeats me.


    • Alan says:

      If it makes one child take up sport…..


      • Old Goat says:

        I can’t, for the life of me, understand why it should make anyone take up sport, and why a child should want to take up sport – many don’t.


        • Chris says:

          Hazel Irvine (during the BBC coverage of today’s parade) said that in the Huntingdon gym where Louis Smith trains there were 170 kids at its taster sessions this year, as opposed to 30-40 in previous years.

          I know that’s just one example, but it goes some way to showing the effect of the games on children’s participation in sport.


  2. Fred Sage says:

    I agree with you Old Goat The UK has thrown three hugh parties this year The Jubilee (well deserved) The Olympics and the Para Olympics A nation can only spend so much time cheering and waving flags. Industrial production must have been seriously affected. I was beginning to think I was living in North Korea.


  3. noggin says:

    “having spent God knows how many public millions, defeats me” – yep! and sadly its BILLIONS …. oh yeah on LONDON, LONDON-regenerating, LONDON-centric, LONDON -moneypit ……………….
    and it didn t even aid shopping/hotel revenues, despite extra hours …
    hey! never mind for the old al bbc its onto the next public financed jolly,


  4. George R says:

    Will the TUC affiliated BBC-NUJ trade unions be holding strikes and blackouts of broadcasting during Labour Party, or during Tory Party conferences?


  5. Umbongo says:

    In the party political broadcast on behalf of the TUC this morning on Today Barber had the chutzpah to assert that the Olympics were a model for private sector companies to aspire to since the Olympics were brought in on time (true) and under budget: a blatant lie reported here and refuted here. Humphrys, an “impartial”, “unbiased” journalist working for the BBC and supposedly “interviewing” this parasite – or, rather, retiring high representative of the parasites – said nothing.


  6. RJ says:

    Cheer up chaps…………hosting the Olympics might have cost a shed load of money for no long term benefit, but the alternative was letting the French have them – so the intangible benefit is enormous.


  7. will says:

    Given the classic fiscal stimulus of running a budget deficit is already in place to the tune of some £100,000,000,000pa. One wonders why the BBC never ask the left how many more billions of unfunded expenditure would do the trick & get Britain booming.


  8. jah says:

    Mat there are plenty of links on BBC to the good economic news. Have a Google.


    • johnnythefish says:

      The 6 o’ clock news hardly portrayed it as ‘good’, the inference being it was more likely to be a blip.

      Anyway, the BBC News website does not remotely provide balance to the relentless leftist propaganda broadcast on BBC TV and radio – so stop pretending it does.


  9. davews says:

    I guess I am not alone in not being that moved by the Olympics. I have in fact hated sport all my life so have only had occasional glimpses of bits of it and have not been seen flag waving anywhere. And being one who also hates pop music I have avoided watching the opening/closing ceremonies. It certainly won’t count among the great moments of my life.

    Whatever the BBC and politicians say life goes on as before and in less than a week we will have forgotten all about it… Anything else happened in the world today?


  10. bodo says:

    Their reporting was very revealing of the BBC mindset, i.e. that all public spending is good. They simply couldn’t bring themselves to question the union claims that the Olympics provided an example of how the UK economy should be run. No question of the massive cost overrun. No question of the Soviet style forced secrecy on all companies who bid for work. No question of just how any “success” would be measured.

    Just a bland statist cry for more tax and more government, given an approving nod by the BBC. The games budget increased from £3 billion to £12 billion – which is probably a good thing in BBC eyes – if public spending is good, then even more public spending must be better.

    As the former BBC business correspondent Jeff Randall said, “it’s visceral, it in their blood, they really do think they are in the middle”. So when a union leader calls for more tax and spend the BBC reaction is ” well that’s a reasonable thing to say, nothing biased in that, so no need to question the statement”.


    • johnnythefish says:

      If the BBC was truly impartial it would by now have made some assessment of the kind of government spending the country could afford were it to operate a balanced budget.

      You know, reality.


  11. lillian says:

    Since the beginning of the Olympics, the BBC, in that irritating way they have of endless repeats of the same questions,have asked every Olympic athlete and every dignatory about the Olympic legacy, which is approximately – the legacy question x at least 500 times throughout the Games.
    I have a feeling they want to fashion a stick to beat the Government with in the years to come up to the next election.
    I know they BBC’s modus operandi so well now they have already got the future ‘legacy failure’ programmes already lined up.


  12. George R says:

    ‘Telegraph View’:

    “Obstacles to growth:
    Union militancy should not be allowed to hold public services hostage or obstruct the country’s path to recovery.”



  13. Deborah says:

    6pm BBC 1 News – Tim Franks gave a visceral attack on the government in relation to ‘The Legacy’ starting with “…. critics say……” – of course he didn’t say which critics… those Beeboids round the water fountain at the studio I guess.


    • Guest Who says:

      Tricky one for ‘the critics’, depending on who, or what they need to see criticised.
      Not being too interested in watching other people play sport, and not being too convinced that ‘elite athletes’ are too much more than bred or funded machines (though some nice folk worked hard and did well within the parameters set and inspired some pride, so good on ’em flogging cereal for a few years), this aspect passed me by.
      The spectacle was pretty awesome, but I do wonder at the ROI.
      On SKY paper review this morning, some blonde business lady quickly learned you do not raise any facts that run counter to the dream.
      I recall well, as she did, that this event was going to flood the UK with dosh…during the event.
      Now the excitement has morphed into ‘Brand GB’ with the positives accruing at some future point.
      This may be the case, but a £9B ad campaign with free media coverage on top does buy a lot, and if the aim was boosting trade there are now redundant questions on best deployment of funds.
      What is without doubt is that, with a ton of money to deploy true, it was all very well handled.
      And I hark back to those at the head of the sniping who were chipping away at that whole aspect until it proved rather self-defeating to be associated with such attempts.
      But if it’s all been to boost the market rates of peroxide sinks with mics to stand in Scottish tennis courts and gush how this will solve the obesity crisis by Christmas… I’m not sure the investment was that great.


    • Deborah says:

      sorry – it was David Bond rather than Tim Franks (brain gone I am afraid) – but by 10pm BBC1 News his report was very different….attack on government/coalition re ‘legacy’ very much reduced…had someone noticed he had gone over the top?


      • Norfolkian says:

        I didnt see the earlier report but the 10pm still had the snide asides about ‘politicians getting on the bandwagon’ (shows pictures of Cameron and Johnson) – strangely missing when Milaband makes a speech in front of a newly-discovered british flag. Its the same story every time an ‘MPs’ Committee’ criticises something – no mention that its a labour committee. Every single time, negative inference with a Tory / right-wing politician, neutral or positive when its Labour.


  14. imaynotalwaysloveyou says:

    For people who like a lot of sport I’m sure it was a nice month to settle down and catch some of it on the telly. And for the people who actually went to the stadiums it was a doubtless a good night out. The fact that no bombs went off was a plus. But overall it was just one more big waste of taxpayers money that we could have done without.


  15. As I See It says:

    One thing is for sure, the BBC were determined to get a legacy out of the Olympics. The message was drummed home at every opportunity. Public spending is good, public spending is good, the more the better, the more the better.


  16. Phil Ford says:

    Right from the wretched opening ceremony, it was clear that the 2012 games were intended to be a barely-concealed left-wing, political handstand – complete with inappropriate sloganeering and awkward socialist propagandizing at every turn. This was going to be a ‘Festival For The People’, dammit.

    The BBC, of course, played their role as the uncritical mouthpiece for this expensive pantomime with considerable brio; in the end, one simply could not escape their relentless, Orwellian megaphoning. Their ceaseless, indoctrinaire coverage of this event really did begin to resemble something one might reasonably expect to see served up on North Korean TV. One half expected to witness a march-past to the Dear Leader at any moment.

    I actually found the BBC’s Olympics coverage nauseating and bullying. Nauseating because its fawning, uncritical tones inspired in me little more than the urge to vomit, and bullying because one definitely detected a consistent undertone of ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ in The Corporations output. In other words, it fast became ‘unpatriotic’ to criticize the 2012 games. And to accuse the miserable opening ceremony of (wholly inappropriate and ill-judged) political point-scoring was practically a capital offence.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous, but I found from first-hand experience that with the BBC ratcheting up the ante, practically insisting that it was every UK citizen’s duty to support ‘The Grand Project’ (and just thinking about those early pre-games TV ads with the likes of Jarvis Cocker still makes me shudder) to speak out against the entire wasteful, undignified circus was tantamount to announcing one’s intention to assassinate the Queen.

    Thank God it’s now all over. The BBC must feel bereft. I know they won’t feel critical because they haven’t ever been critical of the 2012 games – mainly because as we all know the UK’s bid to host (i.e. pay for) The Games was actually a New Labour project; a little something a certain grim-faced Mr G. Brown (a ‘Dear Leader’ if ever we had one) and his disgraced Politburo intended as a lasting ‘Grand Guesture’ to themselves – at our expense, of course.

    And we’ll all still be paying for this self-indulgence for a long, long time to come. My condolences, in advance, go to the people of Brazil.


  17. As I See It says:

    It was always going to be a no brainer that the Beeb would go head over heels for the Olympics. The most PC games ever; the ultimate New Labour/Ken Livingston project. A wall to wall month long advert for public spending with the creation of new celebrity millionaires a handy by product.
    And for the BBC paid (non voluntary) Gamesmakers there is Rio 2016 as another massive bonus!