Is London 2012 Worth the Cost?

Dave Catchpole (CC BY 2.0)

The Olympics don’t come cheap. According to The Guardian’s Datablog, which published a breakdown of the costs, London 2012 is costing £11bn total. As the debate continues over whether or not the U.K. ultimately will benefit from the games, we look back at a study in the Journal of Sports Economics‘ June 2008 issue, “A Contingent Valuation of the 2012 London Olympic Games: A Regional Perspective,” in which authors Harry Walton of the University of Bath, Alberto Longo of Queen’s University, and Peter Dawson of the University of Bath conducted a face-to-face survey with the residents of Bath, England, many of whom supported the bid to host the games, in part because of perceived “intangible benefits”:

Major sporting events such as the Olympics are usually assessed in terms of economic impacts. Recently, policy makers have begun to place greater emphasis on possible intangible effects (such as civic pride, legacy of sporting facilities) associated with such events. To date, little work has been carried out on quantifying these effects in a meaningful way. This study uses contingent valuation methodology to assess the value of the proposed 2012 London Olympic Games. The survey is carried out on the provincial city of Bath, approximately 2 hours west of London. Conducting the survey outside of London is justified on the basis that the organizers of London 2012 have emphasized the value of the event to the United Kingdom as a whole. The results suggest that positive intangible effects are associated with the event and residents outside of London are willing to pay toward funding.

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