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The Olympics – Purse or Curse?

With the 2012 Olympic Games in London now less than a year away, anticipation is building across the country as we prepare to welcome the best athletes and sportsmen and women to our shores.

Not only this, but with massive amounts of supporters and spectators predicted to descend on our Olympic venues, the potential financial benefits that could be gained are at the back of the minds of many businesses.

Ways of cashing in and benefitting financially is something that big corporate businesses and smaller companies alike will be keen on, and predictions and advice are starting to be dished out from various sources.  

So who has been predicted as being the financial winners from next year’s event? Seeing as it is still 12 months until the opening ceremony, it is not too late to try and cash in on the 2012 Olympics in ways previously not considered.

One way of trying to judge who will benefit is by looking at past Olympic Games, a rather controversial thing to do with regards to financial benefits. The mayor of Montreal, prior to the city hosting the 1976 Games, famously said that the Olympics ‘can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby’, yet Canadian smokers still to this day pay a tax on cigarettes that is paying back the cost of hosting the Games.

The Athens Olympics of 2004 have been remembered in financial quarters as somewhat of a disaster, with the final financial evaluation being some 14 times the initial estimated cost, something that is thought to have contributed to the current Greek financial crisis rather considerably.

The outstanding example of how to benefit economically from the Olympic Games though is the Los Angeles Games of 1984, which famously ran at a profit. Whilst predicting a similar thing will happen for London next year is extremely risky and premature, some of the stated reasons for Los Angeles’s success could well be replicated in London. Massive prices for TV rights across the world are bound to amass huge amounts,  and the large size of the city of Los Angeles, a similar possibility in London, meant that there were already enough hotels and locations to cover the arriving supporters and attendees.

However, times do change and there are aspects of the London Games that will have to be addressed financially that haven’t been as big of an issue in previous times. Most especially, security costs have increased dramatically over the past decade, and safety and security is of perennial importance to the Games running smoothly.

It is however extremely difficult to feasibly predict how the Olympics will really affect the economic climate, and it may not be fully definable until well after the closing ceremony. It is perhaps easier to predict who will benefit on a smaller scale.

Transport companies are thought to be big winners from the Olympics, not only in the South East and London area but across the nation, as people will be travelling to and from London in their hoards to attend the Games. Coach and train companies will most likely benefit as car travel is expected to be rather stressful over the Olympic fortnight.

Hotels are predictably thought to benefit hugely, but it has also been thought that people may want to rent flats and properties in the capital, something worth considering if you are lucky enough to own a property in London. Drinks companies and supermarkets will also to benefit from people having Olympic parties and social events, as well as watching events in pubs and other public places.

Betting is also expected to be hugely popular at the Olympics, and that the number of bets placed at the 2012 Games will break previous records. A wiser investment might be in the companies themselves however, with one expert claiming that with recent trends and the benefits of the Olympics, some betting firms may double in value.  

What is for certain is that the Olympic Games in London 2012 will be something to remember, not only for the sporting feats, but also the financial impacts it will have.

By Sean Dudley

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