SBD/May 2, 2012/Olympics

London Games' Impact On U.K. Economy Expected To Be Short-Lived

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Experts say impact of new infrastructure in England has likely already been felt
Hosting the Olympics "will not provide the much-needed boost to Britain's sickly economy that the Government had hoped for," according to a Moody's report cited by Kathryn Hopkins of the LONDON TIMES. Moody's Senior Credit Officer Richard Morawetz said, "We think that the Olympics are unlikely to provide a substantial boost to the UK economy and believe that the impact of infrastructure developments on UK GDP has probably already been felt." Moody's said that any benefits "were likely to be largely short-lived." Morawetz: "The net impact of the Olympics on UK tourism will be positive overall, but far less than gross visitor numbers would suggest" (LONDON TIMES, 5/2). LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said, "I actually just want people to come to London, either athletes or spectators, and go home having extracted what they wanted out of the Games. For the athletes, I want them to go home knowing that I left no stone unturned for them to compete at the highest level. I want the spectators to feel that I figured out their transportation needs and gave them great sports and all the other things." Coe added that his "prime goal was to ensure events are well-attended." Coe: "I'm not having empty stadiums. I would consider that to be a sackable offense. That was my overarching ambition, to make sure that we have full venues. ... Secondly, that we have full venues but at affordable prices. I want people that look like they want to be there. That's quite important." In L.A., Helene Elliot notes Coe also serves as IAAF VP and "might run for presidency" of the track and field governing body, but he said that "his ambitions don't extend beyond that." Coe: "This is, for me, the end of the journey" (L.A. TIMES, 5/2).

DO IT, DO IT NOW: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Thomson & Guevarra write cuts in U.K. government spending "have strained planning for the Summer Olympics in one key respect: Staffing shortages at Heathrow Airport have made entering the country a longer ordeal." Official figures show U.K. immigration checks "now take as long as 90 minutes, but Heathrow passengers have reported waits of two hours or longer." The government is "intervening to fix the problem before the world's busiest international airport will have to absorb an estimated 600,000 overseas visitors in July, ...  a task it must accomplish with a shortage of immigration officers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/2). In London, Ashling O’Connor asked, "Surely no-one can look at the queues at passport control at Heathrow airport of late and claim that the terminals will cope with the influx of visitors during the Olympics?" The situation has been "building for months but is reaching crisis point as passengers complain of waiting times of as long as three hours at an airport that claims to be first-world." O'Connor: "Whatever it takes, it needs to be addressed before July unless London Olympic organisers want to set the wrong tone for the Games. All they need is for overseas visitors, including journalists, to be held in a two-hour queue even before they get stuck in London traffic. It could be a calamity they never overcome even if the rest of the fortnight goes without a hitch" (THETIMES.co.uk, 5/1).
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