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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 March 2007

London Olympics

Big business bonanza - and we pay

CULTURE SECRETARY Tessa Jowell recently announced that the 2012 Olympic games to be staged in east London, will cost an estimated 9.3 billion. This is the highest cost ever for an Olympic games.

Dave Carr, east London

Jowell reckons that this estimate is the "final cost". But given that the original estimate was 2.4 billion, most people will be sceptical.

The 9.3 billion is only half the 19 billion handed out to 'fat cats' in bonus payments last Christmas. It is also only one-eighth of the cost of replacing the Trident nuclear submarine fleet.

But instead of taxing the rich or scrapping Trident, the government will place some of the extra burden onto Londoners, who will be expected to pay up to 1 billion in total.

Some London pensioners are already withholding the current 20 'Olympic levy' from their council tax bills in protest.

Tessa Jowell has said that the increased costs will be partly offset by scooping a further 675 million from the national lottery, but that means diverting a chunk of money from charitable, welfare, sports projects, etc.

London Labour Mayor, Ken Livingstone, says the additional 300 million to be paid by Londoners won't be met out of council tax but from borrowing the money and offsetting it against future land sales of the Olympic site. However, many of the venues from the last two Olympic games in Greece and Australia remain unsold, costing the authorities millions in maintenance and security.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald taxpayers are forking out about $32 million a year to prop up under-used venues from the 2000 games - from a bankrupt SuperDome to a rowing centre more popular with dog walkers.

Indeed, previous Olympic games, while providing a massive advertising boost for corporate sponsors, have left the host countries burdened with debt. So much so, that in the case of the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government massively exceeded its EU borrowing limits forcing it to slash its public spending, leading to cutbacks and job losses.

Meanwhile, the Labour government continues to talk up the "legacy" of economic regeneration that will benefit deprived areas of east London.

But again, there is little evidence of a lasting positive economic legacy from cities that hosted earlier games. Most jobs created, for example, will be short-term construction work and tourism.

Professor John Lucas from Penn State University and a specialist on the modern Olympics, says: "The Olympic Games as an economic development strategy for the host city simply doesn't work in the vast majority of cases.

On the other hand, individual entrepreneurs can make a great deal of money at the Olympic Games."

As a Barnet resident told the BBC: "If private enterprise is going to make a profit from this then they should pay for it."

Most people enjoy the spectacle of the Olympic games. However, Labour's public/private partnership (PPP) plans for funding the 2012 games are likely to go the same way as all PPP schemes, ie we pay, big business benefits.

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In The Socialist 29 March 2007:

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The 'Single Status' scandal

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Stop council's sell-off plans

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PUSH for mass demo

What we think

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Socialist Party news and analysis

Tenants defeat housing sell-off

Universities fail to accept state school pupils

Suffolk: Save our schools

London Olympics: Big business bonanza - and we pay

Fast News

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For the millions, not the millionaires

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Northern Ireland agreement

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Italy: What future for Prc?

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Manchester Unity Stewards and activists group

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