Tuesday, 17 July 2012

10 Impacts of the Olympics on the UK

by Viva Avasthi
olympics mascot. olympics, mascot, wenlock, mandeville, economics for teens, economics for teenagers

With only ten days remaining until the opening ceremony for the London Olympics commences, here are ten ways that the Olympics have affected (or will affect) the UK.

1. Transportation Bliss

Although it is mainly the train services and roads in and around London that have been improved, these developments are beneficial for the entire UK in the long term. This is because through being the capital city and one of the most important places in the world, London contributes massively to the national income. Improved transportation means that people can travel to and from work more quickly and easily which means that people in the city generally become happier. Studies
 show that people are least happy when commuting, so improved transportation should lead to greater happiness (1). Through this, the UK's economy benefits as a result of the multiplier effect since Londoners have a greater incentive to work hard and play hard because they are happier. 

2. Transportation Troubles

There might be plenty of benefits for the future, but there are massive disadvantages caused by the Olympics at present and there will be even more in ten days' time! From the 30th of July, there will be a surcharge of £1.95 on all deliveries to most of London's postcodes which will be levied until September 8th 
(2). This will amount to millions of pounds having to be spent on the extra delivery costs which will have to be borne either by the companies delivering the goods or their customers. No matter who bears the burden of the extra cost created by the Olympics, it will negatively impact the economy due to the fact that the money spent on delivery cannot then be spent on other services which means the other services suffer a loss.

3. A Happier Nation

The Olympics should help to improve the image of both London and the rest of the UK which will make citizens feel a sense of pride in their country. 
The world-class facilities produced for the Olympics will also contribute to the national pride because these facilities could help train young athletes to become highly successful in future Olympic Games which would result in the UK winning more medals and therefore having a greater level of national happiness. Increased happiness levels can lead to people working harder for their country and spending more as part of the national celebratory atmosphere. Therefore, the economy would  be stimulated in a sustainable manner because it would cause productivity to increase at the same time as spending.  

4. A Waste of Money

Although the sports venues developed for the Olympic Games could become a wonderful asset in the long term, if they are not managed creatively by policy makers, they could result in becoming a burden and a waste of money! It is very important that policy makers ensure they have a long-term plan developed for the sports venues in London so that they can become attractive tourist attractions or useful facilities. There are many examples of expensive and glamorous infrastructure falling into disuse within a few years of being built. The Bird's Nest Stadium built for the Beijing Olympics (3) is a prime example, as is the Millennium Dome which many taxpayers deem to have been a complete waste of their money.

5. A Healthier Nation

One of the aims of the government is to promote exercise and healthy living through the example of the athletes partaking in the Olympic Games
 (4). This can be made possible through the government's plans to disassemble and rebuild some of the Olympic stadiums in various parts of the UK (5) as this should encourage people to engage in sport by practising in the same stadiums where famous athletes competed. A healthier nation is not only socially beneficial, but also economically beneficial as regular exercise makes people less likely to fall ill, which would relieve some of the pressure on the NHS (National Health Service).

6. The Promotion of Fast-food

It is quite strange that while the government hopes to make the country healthier through the Olympic Games, some of the biggest sponsors of the Games are fast-food companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's. This is potentially communicating a negative image as people who buy tickets to watch the Games are served by fast-food companies which defeats the purpose of ensuring Britain becomes healthier, especially since the majority of ticket-holders are British. However, the reason behind the Olympic Games being sponsored by fast-food giants is because they are just that - giants. Coca-Cola and McDonald's are enormous corporations and are most likely paying massive amounts to sponsor the Games as they are an excellent way of advertising to not only Britain, but also to the rest of the world.

7. Recognition of Small and Medium-sized Businesses

The government is trying to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses benefit from the Olympics by encouraging local businesses to get involved, especially in the catering aspect of the Olympics. On Radio 4's 'Today' show, the example of a small Birmingham-based bakery was presented, where the fairness of the selection criteria for becoming an official caterer for the Olympics was explained. It was said that food tasters were invited to try pastries from a variety of different businesses and had to choose their favourite one without knowing to which business it belonged. In this case, the Birmingham-based company, which is a small business, was chosen. This has helped raise the company's profile which has allowed it to gain a larger consumer base.

8. A Hindrance for Small Businesses 

Some argue that the Olympic Games are not beneficial for small companies as traffic and services in London will be disrupted for the Games. Another problem is that companies are not able to promote their products as being even moderately related to the Olympics for fear of breaking the law (6). This means that they cannot obtain any additional custom through selling Olympics related merchandise.

9. Improved Working Conditions

Aside from the benefit of tens of thousands of jobs being created through the £7 billion worth of contracts signed for the Olympics in various sectors such as  logistics, catering and security, a further benefit is that 
existing workers' conditions have supposedly been improved, too. This is because businesses that have won contracts to work on the Games have had to better their working conditions through things such as improving health and safety as well as equality in the workplace (7). This is an excellent way to help develop the country and attract the best and brightest from around the world because they will prefer to work in a country where there is equality and safety.  

10. Could there have been development anyway?

Although the Olympics provide an opportunity for sports-led regeneration, some argue that this regeneration would have been far cheaper if it had been done without the Olympics. Since it is the taxpayers and the national lottery fund that paid for the Olympics and it is the very same people who would have paid for the regeneration if it had happened without the Olympics, some would say that regeneration without the hassle of hosting the Olympic Games would have been more beneficial (8). However, I would argue that the development has happened much faster because of the pressure created by the Olympic Games and its global audience. Alongside this, the opportunity to promote the UK and improve its image would not have been available had regeneration occurred without the Olympics.

And one extra impact that's not just worrying the UK...
The worry over terrorist threat is immense for this year's Olympics


Layard, Richard. Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Penguin Books, 2006.


  1. Although the olympics were expected to boost the tourism, there is a lack of consideration and preparation in the actual stadiums. In the olympic park there are only 8 ATMs, however a much large number of people are taking out cash daily to buy things such as food or souvenirs. The 8 ATMs do not have enough cash in total to cater for the tourists, so many people had to watch the matches hungry because they couldn't pay for the food. Furthermore, because some of the stadiums were only built temporarily, the toilets are temporary too, but in the Basketball stadium there weren't any toilets, so Chinese commentator Yao Ming had to drink less water and sit still. Which overall gives Britain an inconsiderate reputation and less money to earn from tourism.

    1. Thanks for your comment. If what you are saying is true, then this information is shocking. Combined with the fiasco of the North Korean football team being offended within the first few days of the Olympic Games through the North and South Korean flags being mixed up, the Olympics might be having the reverse effect of what was intended by the government. Only time will tell how problematic the impact of these things on foreigners' image of Britain is.


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