Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

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Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#1  Postby shopping bags » Jan 02, 2013 6:11 pm

Sooo...what do you think?

I found myself debating this question with friends the other evening, when it dawned on me they had no idea how much the games actually cost, but were quite willing to argue they were definitely worth it anyway.

I'm new here by the way so hi! and apologies if I am posting in the wrong place.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#2  Postby Jumbo » Jan 02, 2013 10:02 pm

Personally i would say yes.

The figures for staging it sound huge at around the £10 billion mark. However thats the cost over around about 7 years. In 2012 the UK government spent an equivalent amount in less than 6 days. The money spent didn't just vanish either it went into the pockets of the people who built the stadia, the people who organised events etc. It put food on their families tables for over half a decade.

Thats before you get the less tangible stuff like the enjoyment experienced by many who went. Even though i didn't have a clue before about the event i saw i loved the experience of both the Olympics and Paralympics. When i saw the reaction of my girlfriends sister when she carried the torch (and that of the family) it made all that worth it for me and them.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#3  Postby Ironclad » Jan 02, 2013 10:12 pm

Did the UK break even?

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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#4  Postby shopping bags » Jan 02, 2013 10:29 pm

Ironclad wrote:Did the UK break even?


I don't think so Ironclad. But don't quote me on that.

Breaking even might not be necessary to be 'worth' it however. As Jumbo points out, there are all sorts of intangible benefits like the enjoyment the UK - and the world for that matter - got from it. There is the national branding. And there is increased uptake in sport (a short-lived effect IMO but still a benefit). There is the virtuous circle of growth that comes from government employing men to dig holes and fill them back in again... you get the picture.

However, there could still have been better things we could have done with the money no? Like building hospitals, schools, roads. These actions would have also had numerous benefits. So the question is not was there any benefit? But how much benefit?

Now, when I was trying to make this point with my friends I was using the fact that £10bln is a lot of money to just be chucking about, and that the games were not worth it. But Jumbo makes £10bln sound like chicken feed. He has almost convinced me it was worth it just because it was only £10bln!
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#5  Postby Jumbo » Jan 02, 2013 11:27 pm

Well its not quite chickenfeed. To most people £10 billion is a vast amount but over the same period the UK government spend well over £4 trillion. Thats £10 billion compared to over £4000 billion. To put it in perspective another way the entire cost of the Olympics over those years is around a quarter our yearly payments in interest on the national debt.

The topic of whether spending that £10 billion often comes up and rather more than 0.25% of conversation about government spending in the last few years seems to have been about the Olympics
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#6  Postby shopping bags » Jan 02, 2013 11:40 pm

Jumbo wrote:The topic of whether spending that £10 billion often comes up and rather more than 0.25% of conversation about government spending in the last few years seems to have been about the Olympics


Whats your point Jumbo? That a disproportionate amount of time is spent worrying about a small slice of a very large pie?
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#7  Postby Jumbo » Jan 02, 2013 11:53 pm

I guess so. The Olympics is something that not only has tangible benefits but intangible ones and compared to the scales of cash government throw around its not all that expensive. It seems to come in for a disproportionate amount of scrutiny though.

It could have been spent on hospitals and the like i agree but then again so could the £3-400 million that Arts Council England gets each year. Even when there are needs in certain areas governments spend on a range of things and chucking money at the other problems don't always make them go away. There will always be spending on things that don't seem on the face of them as worthy as other things that appear to need more cash and as long as that continues it might as well be for something that provided the sort of benefits the Olympics has.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#8  Postby shopping bags » Jan 03, 2013 12:02 am

You have a point
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#9  Postby Fallible » Jan 03, 2013 12:18 am

I think they were worth it, but I'm not deciding that based on financial arguments. I enjoyed them and they did seem to lift the mood for a while.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#10  Postby ramseyoptom » Jan 03, 2013 12:42 am

You can ask this about almost any major sporting event, be it the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014, or for the Isle of Wight NatWest Island Games 2011. All on different levels of expenditure, even for the Isle of Wight the Island Games was a considerable cost.

It is quite surprising how money that should be spent on providing facilities, whether sport or not, suddenly gets spent.

If London 2012 had not happened then the regeneration of East London would not have taken place. Some transport links would not have been renewed or built and may have be shelved no matter how much required.

So were the Olympics London 2012 worth it? A definite yes.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#11  Postby shopping bags » Jan 03, 2013 6:46 pm

ramseyoptom wrote:If London 2012 had not happened then the regeneration of East London would not have taken place. Some transport links would not have been renewed or built and may have be shelved no matter how much required.


Correct ramseyoptom. But other areas were not regenerated and alternative transport links were not built as a result.

Listing the benefits does not make the games worth it. Not if we could have received greater utility from building different infrastructure somewhere else. Or ploughing all the money into research and science, or education, or health.

The question ultimately boils down to opportunity cost I think. There will almost certainly have been better opportunities out there and so the games were not worth it. They came at the expense of something the UK public really did need.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#12  Postby ramseyoptom » Jan 03, 2013 7:35 pm

shopping bags wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:If London 2012 had not happened then the regeneration of East London would not have taken place. Some transport links would not have been renewed or built and may have be shelved no matter how much required.


Correct ramseyoptom. But other areas were not regenerated and alternative transport links were not built as a result.

Listing the benefits does not make the games worth it. Not if we could have received greater utility from building different infrastructure somewhere else. Or ploughing all the money into research and science, or education, or health.

The question ultimately boils down to opportunity cost I think. There will almost certainly have been better opportunities out there and so the games were not worth it. They came at the expense of something the UK public really did need.


I suspect that you are wrong in your assumption that the money would have been spent elsewhere. My experience with government spending is that unless you actually twist a politician's arm up his back and then do the same to the Treasury then the money will not be spent.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#13  Postby shopping bags » Jan 03, 2013 7:38 pm

ramseyoptom wrote:
shopping bags wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:If London 2012 had not happened then the regeneration of East London would not have taken place. Some transport links would not have been renewed or built and may have be shelved no matter how much required.


Correct ramseyoptom. But other areas were not regenerated and alternative transport links were not built as a result.

Listing the benefits does not make the games worth it. Not if we could have received greater utility from building different infrastructure somewhere else. Or ploughing all the money into research and science, or education, or health.

The question ultimately boils down to opportunity cost I think. There will almost certainly have been better opportunities out there and so the games were not worth it. They came at the expense of something the UK public really did need.


I suspect that you are wrong in your assumption that the money would have been spent elsewhere.


Not would have. Could have.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#14  Postby ramseyoptom » Jan 03, 2013 7:46 pm

shopping bags wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:
shopping bags wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:If London 2012 had not happened then the regeneration of East London would not have taken place. Some transport links would not have been renewed or built and may have be shelved no matter how much required.


Correct ramseyoptom. But other areas were not regenerated and alternative transport links were not built as a result.

Listing the benefits does not make the games worth it. Not if we could have received greater utility from building different infrastructure somewhere else. Or ploughing all the money into research and science, or education, or health.

The question ultimately boils down to opportunity cost I think. There will almost certainly have been better opportunities out there and so the games were not worth it. They came at the expense of something the UK public really did need.


I suspect that you are wrong in your assumption that the money would have been spent elsewhere.


Not would have. Could have.


But by complaining on the cost of the Olympics you made an unspoken assumption that the money would have been spent on something else not that it could have been.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#15  Postby mraltair » Jan 03, 2013 8:54 pm

It's probably too early to tell. We'll have to see what is done with the Olympic site. I know some venues are being shipped off to Brazil for the next Olympics but the stuff that stays needs to be used and provide an improvement to the local area compared to before the games. The politicians over use of the word legacy has made me dislike it but I think that is where the value will be.

I haven't been to London for years so I don't know what changes were made in the area and whether they made improvements to transport, which is always a problem in cities. Even the attraction of the Olympics to businesses could bring in more money from new shops/restaurants.

Plus, I enjoyed watching a lot of the events which is what it is all about, watching elite athletes perform at the highest level while we forget about the crap in the world for two weeks.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#16  Postby Strontium Dog » Jan 03, 2013 10:38 pm

I think they were worth it, although I would have preferred it if the Labour government hadn't diverted funds away from important regeneration programmes elsewhere in the country (eg Merseytram) to pay for it.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#17  Postby shopping bags » Jan 04, 2013 12:26 am

ramseyoptom wrote:
shopping bags wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:
shopping bags wrote:

Correct ramseyoptom. But other areas were not regenerated and alternative transport links were not built as a result.

Listing the benefits does not make the games worth it. Not if we could have received greater utility from building different infrastructure somewhere else. Or ploughing all the money into research and science, or education, or health.

The question ultimately boils down to opportunity cost I think. There will almost certainly have been better opportunities out there and so the games were not worth it. They came at the expense of something the UK public really did need.


I suspect that you are wrong in your assumption that the money would have been spent elsewhere.


Not would have. Could have.


But by complaining on the cost of the Olympics you made an unspoken assumption that the money would have been spent on something else not that it could have been.


OK, I take that back slightly. Something would have definitely been done with the money. Even if that was just reducing the deficit. But again, that arguably provides better utility than the Olympics did.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#18  Postby Horwood Beer-Master » Jan 07, 2013 12:31 pm

Jumbo wrote:...To put it in perspective another way the entire cost of the Olympics over those years is around a quarter our yearly payments in interest on the national debt...

That sounds to me rather a lot.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#19  Postby trubble76 » Jan 07, 2013 12:49 pm

My emotional response is that the Games were well worth it.

I think the future of that area of East London will be the final decider, it was a bit of a shit hole before, let's see if it reverts to being a shit hole again or whether it emerges from the chrysalis with pretty new wings.
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Re: Were the 2012 Olympic Games worth it?

#20  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 07, 2013 12:58 pm

I think the Olympics are more than worthwhile.

I just don't see the need for so much money to be spent on them.

The idea is that it's all about the human body - running those is fairly inexpensive. Why all the billions on fireworks and frills? That's for 'national pride' not for 'olympics',
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