Cameron claims Olympics will be worth £13bn to UK
THE OLYMPICS will be worth £13 billion (€16.3 billion) to the UK over the next four years and are not “an expensive luxury in tough times”, said British prime minister David Cameron.
He promised “four weeks like no other”, and said the UK had much to be proud of in relation to preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics.
“Our national character can be quite self-deprecating but there’s no need to think that anyone, or any country, could have done these games better,” he said.
“Unlike many past games, there’s no last-minute panic with the paintbrush and we can concentrate on what comes next.”
Referring to the economic gains, Mr Cameron said 46,000 people had helped to build the Olympic Park in east London, and UK companies had so far enjoyed £6.5 billion worth of contracts.
Three-quarters of all spending had been on regeneration: “We will only be left with what we can use. We mean what we say when we say no white elephants.”
The passage of the Olympic torch throughout the UK had been “a brilliant success” watched by seven million people: “It really says something extraordinary about Britain,” he said.
Mr Cameron urged patience over whatever transport difficulties might arise.“However well prepared we are, some things will come as a surprise.”
The government will host an investment conference during the games, which he predicted could lead to £1 billion worth of orders for British firms.
Mr Cameron’s confidence about the economic impact of the Olympics is shared by Lloyds Banking Group, though its predication was for £7 billion worth of growth.
More than £2 billion would come from the games themselves, via tourism and income generated from staging the competitions, said the Lloyds report. The remaining £5 billion would filter through during “a legacy period” lasting up to 2017, including £1.6 million from Olympics-prompted business trips, it said.
Mr Cameron said £1 billion would be spent in British state schools in the coming years to encourage pupils to take up sport.
“Why is it that in so many schools sport has been squeezed out and facilities run down? The result is that [private] schools produce more than their fair share of medal winners,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government’s terrorism powers watchdog has warned the police service that it must have “reasonable suspicion” before making arrests in the run-up to the games.
David Anderson QC said he would be “watching like a hawk” to ensure terrorism arrests were not arbitrary and powers were not abused.
Muslim leaders, particularly in east London, have expressed concern that the community could face unwarranted attention. Mr Anderson urged them to come forward if they had complaints.
“If we were to see a large increase in arrests of Muslims during the Olympic period, even of only 50 people or 100 people, something like that, I have no doubt there would need to be an inquiry into it,” he said.