From ticket scandals to development blunders, the Olympics have been accompanied by controversy ever since London was announced as the host city back in 2005. Each step of the preparation process has been ruthlessly scrutinised by the media and public; negativity that has made it even more difficult to assess the real legacy of the Games. But is this pessimism justified?
Of course, Olympic enthusiasts are keen to reassure us that the Games will have a lasting impact on Britain. David Beckham has been one such ambassador, repeatedly praising the transformation that the Games have brought to East London. But after suffering a shock exclusion from Team GB, no doubt even he will be left feeling somewhat crestfallen. The rejection of the Olympics’ own poster boy sums up the experiences of many: disappointment.
…failed to secure entry…
Disappointment for the thousands who failed to secure entry to their favourite events, as a result of a fiasco that has resulted in touts offering tickets at extortionate prices, while the family and friends of competitors are forced to watch the spectacle at home.
Disinterest from those for whom the Olympics are just a passing circus; overhyped and insignificant. For many Londoners, the flood of tourists into the city means increased congestion and over-the-top prices. While for much of the UK, the impact of the Games is restricted to the television schedule.
…price of the Games set to rise…
One nationwide outcome of the Olympics has been its cost, with the overall price of the Games set to rise to as much as £24 billion – ten times higher than the initial 2005 evaluation. Despite reassurances that every sector of the economy will benefit from increased tourism and investment, critics have doubted that the Olympics will produce a lasting economic legacy.
However, some could argue that such criticism is undeserved. Not least because visibly, regeneration projects have produced startlingly positive results; creating jobs, as well as providing much-needed sports facilities and investment in the East End – a reinvigoration that has been replicated across London. Elsewhere in the UK, involvement in sport has increased, with participation rising by 1.3 million people since 2005. For those whose contribution is limited to the sofa, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony promises to put on “the world’s greatest show”; a spectacle that will hope to paint over previous doubts and signal in the start of a successful Games.
…riddled with controversy…
But while the British are certainly good at it, one must question whether pomp and ceremony will be enough to float an event riddled with controversy. In this sense, it will be interesting to see the real legacy of the Olympics: economically, socially and environmentally. Podiums and medals aside, who will be the real winners and losers of London 2012?
Image courtesy of Directory Max and MyMyZone