I visited yesterday the neighbourhood where I used to work for around 3 years to meet some old colleagues of mine and go to the local pub. It’s always a pleasure meeting them. I’ve been in my new company for more than a year now but I’ve kept in touch with them. After some quick small talk, the conversation moved to the Olympics. After talking about Bolt and Team GB’s medals we started talking about the other, darker, effects of the Olympics.
The area where my old office is located is affected by the bad economic climate. There are lots of abandoned office buildings and closed shops in the high street. There is also a noticeable increase of the number of the rough sleepers on the streets. Not only that, there are many new people on the street with still relatively clean duvets and clothes. This is of course something not to be shown to the visitors or the Olympic Games fans.
The Olympic Games were estimated to cost around £11bn ($17.5bn?)! There are of course the sponsors (£700m), the money from the ticket sales and merchandise (est £600m) and the money provided by the International Olympic Committee (£800m). All the rest (£9.3bn) were provided by the Public Sector that includes central Government (ie taxpayers), National Lottery and local authorities in London.
The amount of money spent for the Games were of course removed from other sectors or taken by newly introduced taxes. I’ve heard numerous stories about public funding cuts on social care, pensions and health care. It’s a bit ironic talking about the legacy of the Games and how the new generations should start actively taking part in sports when most sports centres and similar schemes are cancelled due to lack of government funding. It can be painful to watch homeless people on the street and the glamour of the Olympic Games on the television…
I don’t want to be all negative, pessimistic and spoil the party. I love watching the Games and I think I always will. I just wanted to make a point that there is another side to it.
I want to end this post in a funnier and lighter mood. Here’s a list of athletes that caught my attention during the last days:
Ben Ainslie - Gold Sailing Finn
Greg Rutherford - Gold Long Jump
Tom James - Gold Coxless Four Rowing