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Celebration Capitalism!

The Guardian led the way recently with its poll claiming almost 80% of respondents thought the Olympics had cheered Britain up. Hardly surprising considering the constant repetition in the media of the wonders of the Games. In the summer at the height of the medal winning frenzy the Guardian’s poll at the time only found 55% thought the Games worthwhile. When considering whether the Olympics were worth the money the Grauniad relied on the Government’s faulty £9 billion price tag rather than the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee’s £11 billion or Sky Sports’ more radical up to £24 billion total. However, in other respects the poll had less comfort to offer. 61% considered Britain’s status in the world had diminished in 2012 while 51% thought Britain will still be stuck in a slump at the end of 2013.

So what of more tangible benefits than the feelgood factor? The 2012 Meta Evaluation Report shows that 54% of ODA contracts went to London based firms (p 21) with the South-East in a distant second place followed by the East of England. Small businesses had difficulty getting shortlisted. An Ipsos/Mori Poll in the Financial Times found that while 91% of Britain’s captains of industry thought the Olympics had boosted Britain’s reputation only a quarter said their companies had benefited, six out of ten said there had been no effect and 13% said their business had suffered a loss.

All this is eerily reminiscent of the Government’s own prescient 2002 Game Plan Report which stated: ‘We conclude that the quantifiable evidence to support each of the perceived benefits for mega events is weak, The explicit costs of hosting a mega event should be weighed very carefully against the perceived benefits…(which) appear to be more about celebration than economic returns.’

As Jules Boykoff puts it: Celebration Capitalism!

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