Sara Malm: We are game for anything, but not being ripped off


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The Olympics will be a spectacular show with people travelling from all over the world to see the best of the best compete. There is no arguing that point.

It's Christmas for sports fans. But is it value for money? Hardly.

Those who have studied the economic impact of games past back me up on this. Sports economist Dr Jeffrey Owen of Indiana State University pointed out in a 2010 article that there has yet to be an economic study which has found any "empirical evidence of significant economic impacts". In plain English that means Olympics = bad idea.

Every single poke and prod made into the financial implications come out in the red. The predicted cost seven years ago when we won the bid was £2.37bn. This has spiralled to over £12bn and could reach as much as £24bn. As if that wasn't enough – the great Olympic Village meant to benefit and re-generate the East End? Sold to a member of the Qatari royal family last year.

Benefiting the east, but definitely not the East End.

Of course I am biased. As a former chubbleton who dreaded my PE kit, I am allergic to sports (apart from rugby – it's muscly men in shorts getting dirty... what's not to like?) and I get a rash as soon as someone mentions heptathlons and high jump. I will never understand what it means to those taking part on any level. However, you don't have to hate it to understand that it's not worth it.

The financial costs are just the start. For Londoners it will mean weeks, if not months, of public transport hell. I mean it's not like we don't have enough tourists in Puffa jackets standing on the wrong side of the escalators already – imagine that times the entire Olympics crowd.

It's just not doable in a city which is so service-orientated; where people can't follow TfL's advice and work from home.

Boris Johnson said in an interview that the games will bring "untold benefits" to London. Well if there are such things as benefits from this, then they certainly are untold.

It's like going to a top restaurant and ordering a Caesar salad. By all means do spend your £22, but as beautifully decorated as the salad unquestionably will be, you are not going to feel full afterwards and you will have wasted money which could have been spent on something worthwhile.

Come July it's time for the bubbly and canapés. But brace yourselves for the hangover.

Sara Malm is studying Journalism and The News Industry at the Centre for Journalism, University of Kent

Simon Kelner is away

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