The impact of hosting a mega sports event is contentious subject on which there is little consensus. Different studies have pointed out different findings, with some studies indicating positive impacts (Baade & Matheson 2004). Positive impact of hosting a mega sports event may be overstated (Carrière & Demazière 2002). Other studies have focused on the negative impacts of hosting mega events such as the environmental impacts negative social impacts (Horne & Manzenreiter 2006).
The Summer Olympics the mostly viewed sports competition on the globe (Bowie 2012). But from the perspective of the athletes who take part in the Games, winning is not their sole motivation. According to a primary source for accountable for the Olympic Games revival in 1984, (Pirre de Coubertin), the most significant element is taking part in the events, not winning medals. The primary source further indicates that the basic essence of life is fighting and not necessarily conquering.
The Olympic events are a phenomenon that carries with it great magnitude in that it has the capacity to possess an important social impact on society (the city hosting it and even the entire host nation). It is significant to draw some difference between the social impact that comes with hosting Olympics games and the extensive social influence of the whole event to all those who participate in the games either as hosts or even as external participants (Karamichas 2013). The social impact that is associated with the games interrelates with the budgetary balance of the host city’s planning of the events. London’s hosting of the 2012 Olympics as a whole was a great source of pride to the British and their homeland. Underlying the peculiarity and fun of the events lay a far-reaching encounter to neoliberalism and the communal control that the City of London flourishes upon, and the events have taken after. The Games in many ways indicated that distinct form of dominant politics for Britain that was is possible where equality and freedom are celebrated (Chappelet 2001). With a sovereign class that seems too intractable to engage in the continent of Europe, it was ironic that it was waves of overseas athletes to bring along about an unrelenting outpouring of exhilaration and unity. The general strategic elements are based on a comprehensive and successful event organization by all standards in both international and domestic manners.
There has been the need to understand how mega sports events impact social and economic conditions of the host country or its people. This has mainly been contributed by a number of observations of post-Olympics on the social-well-being of the people of the host country and the economic developments that take place as a result of hosting the Olympics in a country (Balfousia-Savva et al. 2001). In addition, there are many sports fans who would like to attend mega events such as the Olympics games but face a number of constraints such as cost of travelling and the need to acclimatize with the conditions in the host country.
On the other hand, there has been the need to enable the residents of a country have the capacity to attend the events and see sports legends who they only see in televisions and newspapers (Barton 2004). It creates an opportunity for them to watch the sportsmen display their talents and makes them happy and associated with the sports of various kinds. However, little study exists that explain the social and economic impacts of hosting mega events such as the Olympics on the host country and the people of that country. This has resulted into the need to understand the manner in which social-welfare of the people of the host country are affected as a result of hosting mega events such as the Olympics.
The possibility to take part in particular sports as a result of watching sportsmen take part in the Olympics is investigated. The costs incurred as a result of hosting the events is also investigated. Another impact that is investigated is the contribution of the Olympics towards understanding of cultural diversity and acceptance of cultural practices in other countries and the possibility of people to interact with people from other countries as a result of watching the events.
1.3.Aims and Objectives
The aim of this study is to explore the social impacts of Olympics on the people in the United Kingdom.
- To determine social impacts of London Olympics on the residents of London
- To compare social environment before and after the London Olympics 2012
- To establish the impacts of London Olympics on the tourism
- What was the impact of London Olympic games 2012 on social environment of residents of London?
- Were the social impacts of London Olympics 2012 beneficial to the economy of the United Kingdom?
- Did the social impacts of Olympics contribute to improvement in hospitality industry of the United Kingdom?
1.5.Scope of the Study
During the 1970s, there were few studies on the social benefits of hosting the Olympics. However, studies have been conducted by many researchers that measure the economic impact of the event. In order to facilitate understanding of the social impacts of the Olympics, a comparison has been made with regards to the pre- and post-hosting periods. There were short-term benefits before the Olympics were held and subsequent periods after the Olympics. In the case of London, there have been more long-term benefits in the post Games as a result of promotion of the city to tourists and as a good place for investments. The Olympics are also associated with image building or increased competitiveness of a city and an instrument that can be used to aid socio-economic improvement.
This study provides a narrow focus on the social impacts of the London Olympics 2012 by forging the links between those Games and social impacts on the residents of London. The main areas of focus that this paper discusses include impacts on tourism, the regeneration of the urban environment, employment, and displacement of people around the city where the Olympics were held. It also provides an empirical research in which the views of residents of London are surveyed regarding social impacts of London Olympics 2012 and the results are compared with those from literature review. This leads to the conclusions regarding impact of the London Olympics 2012 and a recommendation for future studies in the topic.
2. Literature Review
On July 6, 2005 the (IOC) – International Olympic Committee awarded London the rights to host the Competitions of the XXX Olympiad in 2012 (Crow & Morris 2012). The 2012 Olympic Games in London brought together nearly a million visitors into the city of London for a little more than two weeks. Planning for the Olympics was one of the major logistical complications the city undertook.
The achievement of London’s proposal to host the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games of 2012 was the reason for national festivity. More specifically, their victory over their host competitors brought the opportunity for a boost to national pride; nevertheless sooner or later, stiff questions were certain to be asked (Macintosh 2011). The success of the London 2012 bid has been extensively accredited to its idealistic stress on the Games’ potential bequest of a lasting increase in involvement in sport by all sectors of the society – especially among children. Supporters had heralded this aspect as the real prize; although there was a lack of evidence that it had been accomplished by any preceding host city. It was believed that comprehensive preparation needed to start early if London was to do better in this veneration. To realize it, planning started early (Miller 2012). It is a frequently a quoted parody that “no prior Olympic Games had elevated contribution levels in sport and physical activity”.
Nevertheless, this is not completely accurate for two reasons. First, it is a fact that there has been no substantiation composed or gathered that any previous Games had outstretched participation (this is not identical to not having elevated involvement) and, furthermore, no preceding Games had hired strategies towards promoting higher levels of physical activity or sport involvement (Karamichas 2013). As such, the use of an Olympic Games to raise physical action and sport participation has not been tried in any material sense. Furthermore, such annotations apply even more clearly to social behaviours, which, although vaunted by commentators as a potential advantage of the 2012 Games, had not been part of strategies or assessments for previous Olympic Games (Bowie 2012).
The domestic elements of success include the involvement of the local population and fans that must be perceived as having supported the event significantly through proximity and fair pricing. The international gauge for the dimension of the event relates to event organization, sponsorship and participation as well as achieving revenue goals (Essex & Chalkley 2004). The significant challenges relate to how to tactically value tickets for such events to raise revenue and at the same time guarantee social balance through managing of the observer perception, safeguarding equitable distribution and accessibility of resources along with value judgment over communication media all over the world in relation with the goals of an organization (Bowie 2012). There also lies the necessity to guarantee that accessibility, ticket pricing, used together with revenue inferences, help encourage the attendance of the event and social value judgment of success social impact is a measure of the employment and spending effect of particular project.
The effective institution of the London 2012 Olympics Games was a predictable necessity for a program intended at sustained fostering of the Olympic movement developing infrastructural schemes to enrich the psycho-social well-being of the population (French & Disher 1997). With all the planning in mind, it was essential to consider the social implications of the Olympics in a city like London given the externalities that were involved in the whole process. While financial aspects are an important piece of the event, the social aspect can never be underestimated; therefore giving room and the opportunity to find out the social impacts that such an event carry with it (Macintosh 2011).
2.2.Review of Events that Took Place During London Olympics 2012
Cases of racism were very minimal and even when reported were isolated cases which could not have represented the public at large given the conducive environment that the games operated in. The events provided an opportunity of boundless spectacle which was laced with an eccentric touch (Hiller 2000). Thrilling victories, world records, and dramatic comebacks were all witnessed (Miller 2012). Usain Bolt fortified his legendary prestige on the track, Michael Phelps alongside Ryan Lochte in the swimming pool, and Sir Chris Hoy in the velodrome (Bowie 2012). There existed poster girl Jessica Ennis, building her dreams into a reality, Mo Farah turning into one of Britain’s supreme track. People who could not find the opportunity to book a seat at the venues due to financial strains and even geographical purposes stuck in the sofas all day and all night long to closely follow the events (Macintosh 2011).
London Olympics provide a case where people from various cultural backgrounds came together to show their sporting talents. It created an avenue for expressions of cultural practices and social values (London 2012 2004). This impacted on the manner in which the British understood social relations between people during sports and other social events that bring people from various backgrounds together.
Olympic Games held in London were composed of a number of activities that created liveliness and appeal to spectators and brought a feeling of togetherness which promoted the relations between people (Brown & Joanne 2001). It also contributed to entertainment as people watched athletes display their talents during the events.
Olympics events are usually accompanied by huge crowd turnover as was observed during the London Olympics 2012. There was a higher turnout in comparison to Sydney Olympics or Beijing Olympics in 2008. As a result of large number of people from various continents, it was expected that there would be great cultural differences that would create an opportunity to learn about social characteristics of people from other continents and nations (Bowi 2012). For instance, the Chinese had their own cultures they treasured and the Japanese also illustrated their patriotism by displaying dances and activities which illustrated their culture at the opening ceremony during the London Olympics. There are a number of memorable events that took place during the Olympics such as the Chinese table tennis players who overcame their opponents to clinch gold medals. This created a memory on the minds of spectators and made them feel socially accomplished (Miller 2012). Other thrilling events that created appeal to the spectators during the Olympics include field events such as 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters for men and women, discus, javelin and steeplechase (Karamichas 2013). Through supporting of their national teams, the British were able to have a feeling of being socially satisfied and were able to memorize the events.
2.3.Key Concepts in Mega Sports Events
Mega sports events include the major events held in the world such as the Olympics, World Marathons and World Cup. The main distinction of Olympics is that it enables participation in a number of events such as athletics, boxing, javelin, short put and swimming (City of Vancouver 2004). The major aim of the mega events is to allow sportsmen from various countries display their talents for the purpose of personal gains and promotion of their countries in sports world. It is an avenue where sportsmen compete for awards which improves their lifestyles as well as entertaining the spectators. In addition, mega sports events such as Olympics and World cup result into the capability to market a country in sports as well as creating a brand for sportsmen.
Contemporary scholars focus on the legacies left by hosting mega events, which could be social, environmental, or economic, based on the nature of the mega event (Jones 2001). The legacies comprise the ability of spectators in the host country to interact with spectators from other countries as well as the ability to see and talk to sportsmen from other countries. This enables them accept people from other cultures as well as understand the cultural practices in other countries (Dwyer, Forsyth & Spurr 2003). For instance, it has been observed that some people have been able to interact with people from other countries and create ties which are beneficial to the creation of cooperation between countries. It has been observed that some people have been able to get their marriage partners as a result of attending mega events such as Olympics games (Kasimati 2003). However, it has also been observed that there are some countries that have cultures which erode the culture of the people of the host country. For instance, in some countries, there are laws that allow practices such as homosexuality. When people from host country interact with others from these countries, there is the possibility that they can be influenced to participate in such practices.
A great amount of literature on the Olympic Games relate to its collaboration with social and political growths. Firstly, in the initial editions of the Games, social circumstances determined contribution, probably more so than athletic qualities. During the completions of the late 19th century, sports were a special privilege of the more affluent people in mainly developed countries (Fuller & Clinch 2000). Secondly, the competitions have been used to motivate chauvinistic attitudes. Thirdly, it may be contended that organizing large scale sporting events, lead to momentous social effects both in the short run and in the long run. National success at the Games may lead to high rates of social development and growth of a host country and participating countries by raising consumer and producer buoyancy (Miller 2012).
2.4.Reasons for Hosting mega events
There are a number of reasons why a country would like to host mega events such as the Olympics. This is because there are a number of benefits derived from hosting such events. in addition, mega events such as the Olympics create an avenue that results into unity of mankind and sharing of ideas such as skill s in sports and exchange of cultures (Masterman 2004). Thus, countries that host Olympics strive to benefit from advantages of hosting such events. For instance, most countries that host mega sports events such as Olympics have a more improved infrastructure after the events because they create the infrastructure to enable them host the events (Andersen 1999). As a result of improved infrastructure, there is improved development of towns within the cities in which Olympics are held.
In addition, residents of the host country are able to watch the events live and become happy as well as lean about the cultures of people in other countries. In addition, an influx of people from other countries creates a demand for businesses and manufactured products of companies from the host country (Balfousia-Savva et al. 2001). This results into increased business and income for the host country. Mega sports events have also been hosted because the host country has a number of talented sportsmen who can take part in these events. thus, it creates an avenue for the display of talents in various kinds of sports so that the participants can benefit both financially and fame. In addition, hospitality industry can be boosted when mea sports events are hosted in a country (Barton 2004). Consequently, some countries host mega sports events such as Olympics to improve tourism in their countries.
How can a comparison between the London 2012 Olympic and the preceding Olympics be carried out? The answer is modest. It is not easy, though the 2012 Olympics carried with it much of charisma and flare (Macintosh 2011). Not to any inordinate extent can the preceding Olympic events be compared to the London 2012. Each one is just distinct, but there is this one that will take some time to be forgotten not because of the event that took place but in the manner they took place (Miller 2012). In Beijing, the 2008 production was remarkable, but the Games were used by the Chinese government as a propaganda exercise. This was a major shortcoming that was never witnessed in London Olympics (Karamichas 2013). The organizers of the London Olympics successfully evaded making the event a platform for messages with negative political implications and maybe it can be said that they learnt not to repeat the mistake of others (Bowie 2012). The Olympics in London was right here on the doorsteps of its citizens and they had to be welcoming with visitors from other country, something that was done with professionalism and hospitality.
Through hosting of mega events such as the Olympics, it is possible to uplift the profile of a country in sports arena or improve its image in the global perspective. For instance, it creates a better image for a country thus increasing the possibility of investments in such a country. The private sector is also encouraged to make additional investments that are beneficial to the developments in a country (London 2012 2004). In addition, businesses are improved and employment opportunities are created as a result of hosting the events. A number of improvements can be observed in a country as a result of hosting a mega event such as the Olympics. These include increased investments, additional tourists and increased income as a result of high demand for consumable products produced by a country (Brown & Joanne 2001). As a result of improved infrastructure, there is usually improved urban development which creates a better condition for businesses and activities that improve the economy of the host country.
The funds obtained from ticketing and business activities during the events can be used to enhance urban development and environmental sustainability, improvement of water and sewerage systems as well as transport and communication systems in a country (City of Vancouver 2004). These improvements create an avenue for economic improvement of a country.
2.5.Social Impacts of London Olympics 2012
There are a number of social impacts that can be observed as a result of hosting the London Olympics 2012. However, the legacies resulting from these mega events are subject to contention and it is not easy to determine the exact impacts of these events on social well-being of the people of London (Dwyer, Forsyth & Spurr 2003). There are also a number of negative social impacts on the people of London such as the exposure of the people of London to negative human practices that are not ethical. Consequently, the people of London were morally affected as a result of the events. However, the social impacts can be measured in terms of improved sociability of the people of London as a result of exposure to the cultures of people from other countries.
Countless social impacts are accumulative and wide ranging over time and space. With happenings such as the Olympic functions with long sessions, the nature and dynamics of the event may alternate significantly, thus complicating the whole process of impact assessment. Influences of supposed ‘hallmark’ proceedings commonly show up the city of performance or occurrence rather than show it off (Marshall 2004). Enlarged congestion, dislodgments, price upsurges (comprising land-rent value escalations and attendant refurbishment), aggravation of sex workers and the dislocation of the young and those of lower income status, are all distinguished and pointed out by various school of thought as impacts of serialized Olympic Games (Miller 2012). The Olympic Park significantly provided locals with noteworthy improvements in social entitlements and communal integration.
The Olympic also in a way promoted convenience and insertion, vital objectives in such a varied city as London. In particular, the Olympics 2012 was able to accelerate the expansion of nearby facilities for incapacitated people (Kasimati 2003). The Olympics program was in a position to reinforce and supplement traditional activity, structure on the rich heritage of London and additionally provided innovative breaks and facilities for the artistic industries. Newspaper news submitted that approximately 12,000 police were involved in safety in and around London during the Olympic competitions in London, 2012 (Minton 2012). This was alongside with approximately 21,000 security personnel throughout the country. US officials were reported to have taken 1,000 agents, with some of them being armed and 500 FBI personnel. The clear objective of all these exercise was to protect participants and diplomats. Sponsoring companies like the Coca-Cola had hired their own reserved security personnel (Karamichas 2013). The MOD had set-up as many as 12,000 soldiers, comprising of 4,000-5,000 expert recruits capable of providing bomb clearance, air resistances, and a naval capability. There was a fractional militarization of the ordinary police, with supply of armed police persons on the London Subversive and railway system, and also at workout venues round the nation. CCTV networks were incorporated through the capital, and mobile location trailing and facial identification expertise was put in action (Nardi 2003). Ground-to-air military hardware was positioned on the tops of identified tower slabs and within the boundaries of beauty places such as Oxleas Wood and Black heath.
There has also been the influence of politicians who have impacted on the manner in which funds are used to manage activities during the Olympics in London. A number of reports suggest that the budgetary allocations for the events did not match the actual development that took place during the preparations for the events (Fuller & Clinch 2000). Thus, it has been suggested that hosting of the London Olympics 2012 resulted into misappropriation of funds with the disguise of improving infrastructure for hosting the events. Despite the high costs of hosting the Olympics, there are many industries that benefited from the events such as the advertising industry which made use of the events to advertise their products. This resulted into additional demand for products produced by manufacturing industries in Britain and an overall improvement of its performance in the retail sector (Karamichas 2013).
There are both direct and indirect social impacts of London Olympics 2012 that spread across the nation. These social impacts have contributed to development of Britain and change camaraderie. Many articles have been published pertaining to social impacts or benefits that have been measured in a reliable scale. The main area of impacts of Olympics in London was a boost in tourism and public services (Neuman 1997). On the other hand, there are a set of needs of the city that were met as a result of hosting of the Olympics, resulting in sustainable development and levity. It also contributed towards transformation of the image, tourism and development in the cities along with the enhancement of London’s image in international relations with foreigner visitors. The main areas of social impacts that are investigated in depth are: impact on tourism, skills and employment, sporting legacy, physical and mental wellbeing, and cultural legacy.
2.5.1. Jobs and housing
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the main agenda in regards to social dynamics of Olympics in London was aimed at catering to the wide social, and environmental improvement priorities (Neuman 2003). It was expected that locals would benefit from skills and education in addition to the provision of good housing. On the other hand, budgetary cuts by the government contributed to 60% of additional housing and jobs opportunities by the year 2013. In addition, there were concerns in regards to allocation of new housing in various boroughs.
The main areas of employment opportunities were hotels and restaurants where people of London could work in various positions as staffs. An increase in jobs was also attributed to the existence of a large number of spectators and athletes who needed refreshments and food (Nixon 2012). As a result, various concession stands were started along the streets of London that provided food for participants in the Olympics and spectators. This resulted in additional employment opportunities for the residents in London.
However, there were also negative impacts of Olympics on housing and jobs. A number of businesses that operated in London and various residential buildings were displaced as a result of expansion of the area where Olympics would take place (Panagiotopoulou 2009). Consequently, many people lost their jobs while a number of residents were displaced without compensation.
2.5.2. Sense of community and cultural awareness
There are different ways in which the London Olympics 2012 resulted in a sense of patriotism. Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, commented that the Olympics resulted in increased patriotism, which was experienced across the UK. For instance in London, a state of togetherness was created (Pillay & Bass 2008). The success of Great Britain during the Olympics resulted in a feeling that the team was enjoying patriotism. As a result of unity during the Olympics, other aspects of communities and sport were affected positively. For instance, in many sports activities in Britain, a culture of togetherness was created and athletes adopted the culture of fair play, team spirit, and respect during the Olympics (Poynter 2009). Another impact of Olympics on community relations was the positive perception of one another as people from the same country.
The opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 indicated an invitation to experience British culture and, educating people in various parts of the globe with regards to national cooperation (Poynter & Roberts 2009). A platform showing the diversity and acceptance was also demonstrated. This was done by presenting a journey through the history of Britain, ensuring education for the young individuals and audience in various parts of the globe. The Olympics were also a platform through which British citizens could learn about and accept the cultures of other people (Preuss 2004).
Another impact is that the Paralympics resulted in the consideration of people who had been neglected in the community. It ensured that disabled people were placed in a positive light by ensuring their talents in athletics are recognized (Ritchie & Lewis 2003). Thus, the stigma attached to disabilities was lifted and people were educated to be tolerant to one another. This inclusion was an improvement from Beijing Olympics 2008, where the rights of disabled people in the community were ignored (Preuss 2004). In addition, London Committee of Games stated that it was aimed at overcoming racial and social tensions that resulted from the London 2011 riots (Ritchie & Smith 1991). This was an action that was taken as a result of the failed proposal that was made to incorporate the Paralympics into the Olympics in the Sydney in 2000. As a result of exclusion of Paralympics during the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, there were protests and lack of satisfaction from the events.
- Health and Well-being
Sports create an avenue for improvement of physical fitness for both participants and spectators. Despite the fact that spectators do not take part in the events, they are able to learn a number of sports skills and get motivated to participate in sports (Baade & Matheson 2004). As a result of being inspired to take part in sports, physical ability of the person is improved and the person becomes healthier than before. Furthermore, cases such as obesity and high blood pressure are eliminated and the person is able to live longer (Balfousia-Savva et al. 2001). It also ensures the person is physically fit and can person tasks which require a lot of effort such as movement of heavy loads from one location to another. In addition, the act of taking action to move from areas of residences to the locations where sports events such as Olympics are held result into a release of tension and boredom that exist when a person stays indoors and does not interact with others. It is a contributing factor towards a reduction in stress that may develop as a result of not engaging in leisure activities.
In the aftermath of the London Olympics, policymakers believed there was the need for the government to capitalize on the continued interest in physical fitness London so that sedentary habits of the nation could be changed (Roche 2000). It was found that when the games were concluded, there was an uptick of 15% of health in London and a number of people considered the Games London as the reason why they had obtained better health. For instance, the number of people who suffered from stressful conditions declined by 15% in most hospitals in London while cases of obesity also reduced by 20%. By comparison, other Olympic host cities such as Sydney and Beijing did not see measurable changes in health habits in their citizens (Poynter & Roberts 2009). In addition, there has been a prospective increase in benefits from improvements in health services in areas where the London Olympics were held.
2.7.Impacts on Tourism
The study of impacts of the Olympics on tourism can be investigated by studying the tourism figures pre-Olympics, during the events and post-Olympics (Stone 1993). During the Games, there were two types of tourists who were drawn to London: the leisure tourists who travelled to see the villages and parks, and sports fans who travelled for the purpose of watching the Olympics (Time Out Magazine LTD 2011). The latter contributed to the economy of the UK by purchasing Olympics tickets. Even after the Games ended, foreign visitors remained attracted to tourist sites in Britain, thus increasing the country’s income from tourism more so than in any other year in history. The only difficulty that has been associated with the increased tourism in England is that unlike investments in infrastructure, it is possible to control income in tourism centrally. The table below shows tourism statistics before and after the London Olympics 2012.
|Year||No. of visitors (Millions)||Total Spent £ (Billions)||% Growth|
Table 1. Tourism data before and after London 2012 Olympics NB* Forecasted figures
According to the table above, there were more tourists in London in 2012 than any other year. As a result of the Olympic Games, London became a tourist hub and the city generated over £ 10 billion in tourism revenue in the aforementioned phases of Olympics.
It has been argued that Olympics tourists, unlike other tourists, do not tour other sectors of the economy but focus their tourism on sports. They do not spend much of their income on recreation activities, thus affecting government revenues that have an impact on taxes on products such as alcohol and gambling (Taylor & Edmondson 2007). Thus, it is not easy to predict and forecast their spending habits. This unpredictability was mostly evident during the London Olympics. Despite the attraction of tourists as a result of Olympics in 2012, it was not easy to maximize tourism potential because some of the would-be tourists may have been scared off by overcrowding, disruption of transport and other inconveniences.
During research activities, there are two major research strategies that can be used. They include deductive research and inductive research strategies (Bowie et al. 2012). In deductive research, available facts are used to make a conclusion about research topics while in inductive research, an analysis is performed on the facts and theories and a conclusion is made. Through inductive research, it is possible to formulate policies which allow drawing conclusions to the research questions (London 2012 2003). Due to the fact that there is the need to obtain primary data for the research, inductive research will be used to investigate the social impacts of London Olympics 2012 such as the impacts on participation on sports and social welfare of the people of London.
3.1.Justification of Research Method
This research was generally focused on finding the perceptions of residents of the UK about the social impact of hosting the Olympic Games and how their lives, had been affected. The main area of focus was the perceptions on the social benefits of hosting the Olympic Games. Based on the objectives of the study, there were two possible options for conducing the research. The first involved interviewing the people who had attended the London Olympic Games about the possible social impacts of hosting the events. Another option involved conducting survey through the Internet. The interview process would be time consuming due to a number of preparations, interviews, transcriptions, analysis and reporting that would push the research process beyond the deadline.
Another challenge that would have been encountered by using interviews is that it could not have contained a large enough sample, needed to be representative of the target population. In this study, the interview was used as a method for participation in the form of a focus group. Furthermore, an online survey was preferable to out-of-date methods because it was possible to store the information electronically (Sega of America (FIRM) 2012). This enables the electronic processing of data that is versatile and readily available. In addition, it is a method through which a range of issues can be investigated and lack of verbal clues ensured there was no bias, thus it was possible to get more accurate responses from the respondents.
During a primary research, a number of research questions are used to guide the researcher on the nature of the research so that the objectives of the research are met. The research process is structured so that variables are identified and how they relate to one another. Consequently, the design of a research process involves collection of data which enables the research questions to be answered (Brown & Joanne 2001). There are two types of research designs used in empirical research: qualitative and quantitative research. The nature of the research design is based on the context of research and the research questions. For instance, qualitative research involves collection of data based on views, observations and opinions of respondents. The data is generally descriptive in nature. On the other hand, quantitative research involves collection of data that can be measured and quantified using statistical methods (Chappelet 2001). Due to the need to find opinions of respondents about London Olympics 2012, this research will involve the application of qualitative research because it will attempt to find the views regarding social impacts as a result of hosting the events.
Interviews will be used to acquire primary data in this study. Semi-structured interviews will be applied in this study. Since interviews provide more personal interactions with interviewees and understanding of their attitude, researcher can obtain a better understanding of local residents in London regarding their view points on the Olympics Games, and can generate results more comprehensively (Crow & Morris 2012).
3.3.Sample and Sampling Techniques
According to Ruane (2005), sampling techniques allow the researcher to lessen the data required by the researcher. Fisher (2007) recommends the probabilistic sampling use since it helps in enhancing the research validity and reducing bias. A total of 250 respondents were selected for the survey. Over the duration of the survey, 4 cyber cafes were selected for use by respondents for online surveys. The respondents were first informed about the study objectives after which they were asked to complete the survey. The booths were in operation during the Olympics until the end of the Olympics on 17th of August 2012.
The sample selected was composite and composed of individuals who attested to have watched the London Olympic Games or had views regarding the events. After the survey responses were collected and filtered, a total of 150 responses were correctly filled and could be used for further analysis.
3.4.Data Collection Methods
This study relied significantly on descriptive and qualitative data methods of data collection.
The major two types of data collection methods are primary and secondary data collection methods (Dwyer, Forsyth & Spurr 2003). In primary data collection, respondents are contacted directly while secondary data collection involves finding related data in published materials for the purpose of understanding the research questions. In this study, primary data collection is applied by use of interviews. This method of data collection is effective in obtaining unbiased information regarding the research questions.
During the research, a number of ethical considerations were made. This ensured scientific principle was used to obtain data while respondents are not affected as a result of obtaining information from them. A number of ethical considerations were made such as:
- Allowing respondents to participate in the study based on their individual consents
- Respondents were assured of anonymity and that the data would be used for the purpose of the study. They were also assured of confidentiality and that the information obtained would not be disclosed to any other person.
- The social research also guaranteed no harm to researchers and participants. It is required for a social research study that the researcher should not put the respondent in a harmful situation through his or her participation in the project. All respondents received equal treatment without prejudice and they were informed of the purpose of the research prior to their participation.
This research also involved clarification of the objectives and aims of the research in advance of participating in the survey and the presentation of consent forms to each respondent. The research also established whether the design complied with Nottingham Trent University’s ethics policy and an ethics audit was conducted to determine the possibility of ethical risks during the research.
3.6.Focus Group and Survey Process
This research was focused on determining the issues stated in the research objectives, which was to determine the impact of the London Olympic games of 2012 on welfare of the people in London. The initial design of the research targeted local businesses in the Olympic boroughs, but when proper considerations had been made, it was decided that a survey would be conducted. The respondents who were targeted in this survey were residents of London and domestic visitors of the Olympics from the UK. The purpose of using a survey is that it would ensure honest views are obtained and attitudes of respondents are gauged. The findings would contribute significantly towards making improvements in the social sphere for future Olympic hosts based on the results of this study. Furthermore, it was possible to get information pertaining to the impacts on community cohesion, employment, local area improvement and costs involved in hosting the Olympic Games.
The initiation of an in-depth qualitative research involved a pretest study that was used to finalize the study. A small focus group was put together and demographic information of the participants was determined. The pretest was conducted so that the questionnaire could be understood. In addition, the respondents provided in-depth insight into the nature of the pretest so that the questionnaire could be understood. Furthermore, informative insight was provided that identified the issues that could have been omitted during the final survey. This enabled the setting up the precedent of how the questionnaire could be used to conduct the survey.
The focus group for the online survey consisted of 8 people, 5 of whom were female and 3 who were male. The youngest participant was 19 years old while the oldest participant was 65. Respondents in the focus group were allowed to provide their opinions regarding the research questions without restriction. This method also provided a way in which the feelings of participants could be gauged to give a sense of their ideas. This involved encouraging the respondents to give their thoughts, as a result of their experiences at the London Olympics and the social impacts after the event. Initially, 25 questions were designed for the survey but it was agreed that it was too long and needed to be shortened. The questions were ranked in terms of the level of importance and the top 12 questions were selected for the survey.
Furthermore, participants were allowed to debate the impacts of London Olympics on social welfare of the people in London while their views were recorded. After a discussion on the research questions that lasted four hours, an agreement was reached with regards to the suitability of the questionnaire. The questionnaire was presented to the thesis supervisor who provided additional feedback for the design.
4. Interpretation of Survey Results
The focus of the first three questions was to provide an overview of the population that was studied during the research process. This enabled the questions to be used as parameters for tabulation. Through cross-tabulation, a great deal of information pertaining to the relationship between variables in addition to the frequency of respondents having specific characteristics such as age, gender and others could be determined. It was also observed that only 57 of the respondents lived in the Olympics borough. 48.7% of the respondents were female (73), while male accounted for 51.3% (77) of the respondents. In terms of ages, respondents were classified in age groups and their data summarized in the table below.
Table 2. Age groups of respondents
In terms of areas of residences, it was found that 11% came from Barking and Dagenham, 20% came from Greenwich, 13% cane from Hackney, 3.4% came from Newham, 6.2% came from Tower Hamlets, 5.5% came from Waltham Forest and 43.2% came from other parts of the UK. Please, have a look at the pie chart below. Other characteristics respondents that were considered during the collection of data include the number of events attended during the Olympics. For this case, only those who had attended the events more than 3 times during the Olympics period were selected. This ensured the experiences provided the basis on which their answers were provided. It was also found that those who attended the events were those who had interest in participating in various events that took place during the Olympics such as long distance races, shorts races such as 100 meters and women, 300 meters steeplechase and swimming. It was also found that some participants opted to watch the events because they wanted to see athletics legends such as Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Sanya Richards who are known for their sprinting prowess.
Figure 1. Origins of respondents
4.2.Cost and Outcomes of Games
The focus of this section was to determine the respondents’ perceptions with regards to the transparency of findings in addition to the costs involved in hosting the Olympic Games in London. It was generally found that the London Olympics were prepared well and respondents were pleased with the outcomes of the events. However, it was reported that the farcical G4S Security contract of £ 500 million in the Olympic budget was not reasonable. On the basis of cost, constant changes in the Olympic budget resulted into lack of public confidence on the transparency of the manner in which resources were used to facilitate the Olympic events. Over 67% of respondents agreed that they were unsure about the manner in which the government used resources for hosting the Olympic Games in London.
Respondents were asked to provide their view points on whether the government and the mayor of London had done good job in preparing for the Olympic Games and whether they were positive about the games. The responses were rated on a five-point scale that ranged from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’ with intermediate values of ‘Agree’, ‘Neutral’ and ‘Disagree’. The responses are summarized in the table below.
Table 3. Responses whether the Government of UK had done a good job in preparation for the Olympic Games
In addition, respondents were asked to explain whether there was transparency in cost estimates of hosting the 2012 London Olympic Games and social benefits of the games. It was found that 4.7% strongly agreed, 28.7% agreed, 34% were neutral, 30% disagreed and 2.6% strongly disagreed. These results are summarized in the figure below.
Figure 2. Agreement of respondents with respect to the level of transparency during the London Olympics 2012.
However, most respondents reported that despite lack of transparency in hosting the London Olympics 2012, the benefits they derived from hosting the events are tremendous and surpass the costs. For instance, they reported that they were able to see talented athletes from every country in the world and even interview them. They also reported that the areas where funds were used constructively such as renovation of Olympics stadium ensured the area was good for hosting such events in the future. The highways leading to the stadium was also improved and motorists and businessmen could use it comfortably after the events. Thus, despite lack of agreement whether the funds were used transparently by the municipality of London, most respondents expressed happiness with the success in hosting the Olympics. They also reported that it was an indication of the capability of Britain to host a major event and placed it in a better position to bid for other events such as World Cup.
4.3.Social Impacts of the Olympic Games
It is found that the results are contrary to the expectation of the paper. Instead of the expectation that there would be increased number of tourists in tourist attractions such as wildlife in London in comparison to other sectors of hospitality, it was found that there were more tourists who used other tourist facilities compared to natural attractions in London. There have been discussions about the economic impacts of the Olympic Games among researchers regarding the economic and social impacts since the games were hosted in London. An example of a consideration is the economic and social benefits of the Olympic Games in London.
Respondents were asked to express their view points on the purpose of the regeneration and redevelopment in London in the lead up to the Olympics. 34% of respondents reported that it was aimed at hosting the Olympics as well as development in East London, 11.3% reported that the aim of development was to improve East London and lives of its residents, 1.3% reported that the redevelopment was not related to the Olympics or social wellbeing of the people of London, 25.3% explained that the redevelopment was aimed at creating a great impression of East London and 28% reported that the redevelopment was aimed at facilitating the Olympic games in London only.
Other social impacts that were investigated are whether the London Olympics contributed to improvement of the culture of the people of Britain as a result of learning from cultural practices in other countries. It was found that the participants during the Olympics demonstrated the culture of their countries through the languages they spoke, their dressing styles, the manner in which they communicated and the manner in which they related with people of the opposite sex. Respondents reported that they were able to learn about these practices as a result of attending the Olympics that were held in London. This ensured they copied good cultural practices to relate with people in their countries. In addition, they were able to learn about the values f people from other countries and got inspired to visit countries whose cultures were impressive to them.
4.4.Perceptions of Respondents about the Olympic Games
Following the London Olympics of 2012, respondents were asked whether London should host Olympic Games in the future and 81% of respondents agreed that it would be good of London bid. This is an important question to the research topic because it tries to establish the perception of the public towards the Olympic Games being hosted by London. This showed that most respondents had a feeling of self-belonging as a result of the Olympics. In this respect, respondents were asked whether Olympic Games resulted in no benefits to the host community. The responses were: Strongly Agree 7.4%, Agree 24%, Neutral 25.3%, Disagree 32% and strongly disagree 11.5%. This shows that most residents in London would like the government of Britain to host London Olympics in the future a result of the benefits they derived from watching the events. For instance, it provides an opportunity for people who are unable to travel overseas to watch the events while promoting social well-being of the people of London.
As a result of high rates of positive attitude towards the need to host Olympics in the future, respondents were asked to explain the reason why they would like the Olympics to be held in the future. Most respondents explained that they would like to see the emerging talented athletes in various games as well as talk to them or take photos with them. This would make them happy and associated with the legendary athletes as well as making them proud as a host nation for the Olympics. Another reason that supported the need to host Olympics in the future is that the London Olympics created an opportunity to attend the events without incurring high expenses such as travelling expenses in order to attend the Olympics in other countries. Another idea of London Olympics is that the climate in London is familiar to most London residents, thus hosting the Olympics in their city did not require them to acclimatize with the conditions that existed during the events. Consequently, the possibility of the need to acclimatize with the environment as a result of attending the events in another country or continent was eliminated. It also ensured they could not become ill as a result of exposure to other climates in other countries.
5. Discussion and Limitations
The research shows that there are considerable amounts of resources that were spent during the preparation and hosting of the London Olympics 2012 and various opinions were raised regarding the transparency in which the resources were used. In addition, the impacts of London Olympics on the social welfare of the residents of London were experienced to various degrees.
5.1.Cost and Outcomes of hosting the Olympic Games in London
This paper shows that the government of the UK incurred considerable amount of resources in preparation and during the process of hosting the Olympics in 2012. For instance, there were high costs incurred during the refurbishment of stadium where Olympics took place and staff wages during the Olympic Games. In addition, there was the need to ensure that event was adequately protected through security measures. Thus, the government of the UK contracted the G4S security services to manage the events and ensure spectators and participants were safe (Patterson & Sullivan 2012). This resulted in large amounts of financial allocation to control the situation.
In addition, the government of the UK incurred additional costs in providing accommodation services to participants in the Olympics as well as spectators from international countries. This involved the construction of state of the art hotels that provided quality meals and accommodation services to its customers (Nixon 2012). For instance, there were additional hotels and resorts that were constructed to manage the influx of participants and spectators who came from overseas countries. There were also additional social amenities such as toilets and accompanying services that consumed considerable amounts of resources (Hart 2010). The access roads to these accommodation facilities also had to be constructed and expanded. There was also the need to provide security to users of these facilities.
Furthermore, consumable products such as food and drinks had to be delivered to hotels and accommodation facilities to cater for the needs of the athletes and spectators (Patterson & Sullivan 2012). It has been observed that most respondents reported that they were dissatisfied with the transparency level in the manner in which resources were used to finance the London Olympic Games. This might have been due to the fact that there were many areas that needed the provision of security services but the people could not appreciate the high costs required to make this possible.
Furthermore, there was a large amount of waste from used products such as plastics materials and garbage from consumable products that could have potentially resulted in poor sanitation in the streets of London. This meant ensuring that sanitation was provided and that the possibility of outbreak of diseases as a result of poor sanitation could be prevented (Karamichas 2013). Consequently, the government of Britain incurred additional expenses to employee workers who collected the garbage and ensured better sanitation of the cities while hosting the Olympic Games until all the events were completed.
Another area that resulted in the increased costs of hosting the Olympics was the need to provide medical services to the people who attended the events (Klettner 2009). Athletes are prone to injuries and medical complications that require immediate medical attention. Thus, additional health professionals and experts were on hand to provide first aid services to athletes. In addition, spectators, particularly older ones, faced complications such as dehydration or heat stroke during the hot weather conditions in London during the Games and thus require medical attention (Macintosh 2011). This meant it was necessary to procure medical equipment and services that could be used in the venues of the Olympics. Thus, the government of Britain incurred additional cost in procurement of medical facilities and professionals that inflated the cost of hosting the Olympic Games.
5.2.Social Impacts of hosting the Olympic games in London
This research aimed at determining the social impacts of Olympics on the community with the focus on the major boroughs in London. It was expected that the process of hosting the Olympics in London would result into improved housing for London residents (Karamichas 2013). People living in the most underprivileged areas, such as Hackney and Newham, were skeptical and most respondents expressed negative impacts on housing as a result of the Olympic Games.
Through the literature pertaining to social impacts of the Olympics games in London, social impacts on the community can be understood. There were both negative and positive social impacts from hosting Olympics that year but it has been viewed as a tool that enables development of urban environment and a reduction in social exclusion (Bowie et al. 2012). Despite the association of Olympics with sport participation, there are benefits beyond mere sports entertainment as it has been possible to improve the qualities of life and there are many socio-economic impacts that can be observed. There are a number of barriers that were faced during the hosting of the London Olympics such as scarcity of land to expand Olympic facilities and the unrealistic expectations to achieve social benefits according to the demands of Londoners. There were more people from other parts of Great Britain that attended the London Olympics than those from the areas surrounding the Olympic areas.
There was an association between attendance of Olympics and forced displacement. This is a condition where there is a mandatory relocation of local residents within the country so that their presence does not result into disruption of Olympics events or additional space is created for facilities that facilitate the hosting of the events (Crow & Morris 2012). As a result of this displacement, many people were not pleased with the Olympics being hosted in London. According to the views of these residents of London, they were seen as gold mines for profits through development of properties and projects in their plots of land. This resulted into a bad reputation after at least three hundred businesses that supported 5000 jobs within the Olympic boroughs were affected (Karamichas 2013). Furthermore, the displacement of people during hosting of London Olympics resulted into demolition of over 1200 homes so that the games could be catered for while there was increased disruption of community projects that had been started in the areas of displacement. Most residents also reported that consultation before displacement was done in a hurried manner and it resulted into deceitful shams.
Another argument has been based on whether the socio-economic impacts affected various communities in terms of housing. For instance, it was observed that many poor families were relocated to establish additional space for Olympics facilities (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games 2007). Despite the displacement of people and businesses, there was no opportunity for housing for the displaced people and local businesses reinvestments. This shows that the main losers of hosting the Olympics events were local residents and the city of London (Time Out Magazine LTD 2011). This shows that there is the need to safeguard the host city residents as opposed to focusing on improving infrastructure in the areas where the Olympics are to be held. It is clear that the London Olympics resulted into additional problems in terms of housing of displaced people.
Another social impact relating to London Olympics is the increased tourism. There was an increase in the amount of tourists in London after the London Olympics because of improved accommodation facilities and good infrastructure that enabled movement to and from tourist attractions (Newsham 2012). In addition, most tourists believed that since the London Olympics were held successfully, they associated the success with security condition in London. Consequently, they opted to visit London in large numbers compared with the previous years.
The impact on sports is that the people in London were exposure to sports of various kinds such as running, discus, javelin, boxing, swimming and cycling that created an interest amongst children and resulted in an increased number of athletes in England. Another impact of the London Olympics is that it resulted in increased health problems as well as the building of additional health facilities (Miller 2012). This is because the existence of a significant amount of waste products from consumable products resulted into additional of solid wastes that resulted in additional waste materials at landfills. This greatly affected the impression of sanitation in the city of London (Newsham 2012).
Hospitality is an area of the economy that requires a country to be able to demonstrate the ability to organize visitors in terms of services offered to the visitors. Through hosting the Olympics events in 2012 successfully, the government of Great Britain demonstrated the capability of Britain to provide services to tourists and visitors of the country. This promoted its image in the tourism industry (Karamichas 2013). As a result, Britain became a significant tourist destination in Europe and has been competing favourably with other tourist destinations such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway. This has created an opportunity for private investors to invest in activities such as beach hotels, lodging facilities and wildlife services. In addition, movement of tourists in and out of London has been improved by renovation of airports, highways and design of efficient transport methods for tourists by purchasing the latest vehicles for tourism purposes.
In addition, there was an impact on transport facilities as has been contributed by increased number of roads and access routes to Olympics Stadium. This resulted in additional improvements of road infrastructure in London. Another significant impact of Olympics in London is that most people who were initially unemployed obtained opportunities in hotels, restaurants and health facilities that were constructed to cater for the needs of increased number of people who attended the London Olympics 2012 (Karamichas 2013). Generally, this study shows that there is relevance of the results of the research with the literature review in terms of impacts on tourism, health services, employment opportunities and impacts on health services.
5.3.Limitations of the study
Despite the insight provided by this study on the social impacts of London Olympics, there are many limitations that need to be addressed. Therefore, the results of this study are not a complete illustration of the exact social impacts of Olympics in London. For instance, this study focused on the views of residents of London on the manner in which sporting events affected social lives of the people in England. It ignores the views of people who participated in the sports events that would ensure reliable observations are obtained. The study focuses on social impacts of the Olympics in London that took place after the Olympic Games were held. It ignores other impacts of the events, such as the economic impacts of the events. Another limitation is that this paper provides qualitative research into the impacts of the Olympics and ignores quantitative information.
The results of the empirical research are also based on individual opinions, which are subject to bias and personal attitude during the times of survey. Thus, there was a possibility that some responses were provided to show a person’s individual reaction to the Olympics that were held in London in 2012. It was also observed that varying degrees of social impacts were observed but they were based on estimates using the small sample that was used. Due to a sample involved in the study, it was not possible to reach an accurate conclusion regarding the social impacts of Olympics in London. This study also ignores the social impacts of Olympics that were held in other countries such as Sydney Olympics of 2000. Thus, plenty of social impacts of the mega event are not covered. Another limitation is that this study mainly provided the findings from empirical research to arrive at a conclusion of the impacts of Olympics that were held in London. This results in a small amount of information which does not provide any reasonable conclusion. It ignores secondary sources of data to explain the social impacts of Olympics on the residents of London. There is a lot of information published in magazines, articles, periodicals and journals concerning the impacts of the London Olympics on social lives of the people in London. Thus, there are many limitations that results into lack of complete accuracy of the study.
6. Conclusion and Recommendation
This paper provides the social impacts of mega sports events with the case study of the London Olympics in 2012. It is found that there are many social impacts of the Olympics such as the creation of a better image of a country as a tourist destination and increased investments in a country. For instance, it was observed that there was increased tourism in England as a result of London hosting the Games. There are also other impacts such as increased amenities and accommodation services.
The focus of the study is to determine both the positive and negative impacts on residents of London as a result of the London Olympics. It presents a number of events that took place during the London Olympics. The main social impacts that were investigated in depth include the overall unity in the community, the impacts on tourism, impacts on housing and jobs. The methodology provides an empirical research in which residents of the boroughs of London such as Dagenham, Barking, Greenwich, Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest with the purpose of obtaining qualitative data such as their opinions regarding social impacts of Olympics in these boroughs. It also involves investigation of costs incurred as a result of hosting the Olympics and the associated costs of hosting the London Olympics. In addition, the impact of Olympics in the creation of additional employment opportunities was investigated.
Another impact that is investigated is the impact of Olympics on local businesses in London. It is found that as a result of London Olympics, there has been a better image of London throughout the world as a good tourist’s destination as well as a better business environment. Consequently, many businesses have been successful in the boroughs of areas where the Olympics were held. There have also been increased opportunities of employment as a result of the Olympics and tourists have been motivated to visit London. Thus, mega sports events are methods that can result into improvement of socio-economic condition of a country and London is currently a better tourist attraction than it was prior to hosting the Olympics.
It is found that the London Olympics had a number of both positive and negative impacts on the residents of London. These range from displacement of a large number of business premises that supported over 1000 jobs, displacement of people from their residence areas and additional costs in preparation of the stadia that affected the GDP of Britain. There were also a number of positive outcomes of the Olympics such as improved infrastructure and developments of boroughs near London such as improvement in overall urbanization of the surrounding areas such as improved roads and communication systems. Another positive impact of the London Olympics is that it resulted in increased acceptance between communities in London because of togetherness as a nation while supporting their national Olympics team. Thus, the people of London were united and possibilities of conflicts were minimal. This resulted in various opinions and attitudes whether London should bid for Olympics in the future or not.
6.2.Recommendation for Future Studies
There are areas that need to be studied further so that this study can lead to adequate understanding of the impacts of Olympics on socio-economic welfare of residents of London. For instance, it is recommended that future studies should determine the economic impacts of hosting the Olympics because the general impacts of Olympics can be better understood through changes in economic performance. Another area of research that needs to be studied further is the role played by Olympics in cultural behaviours of the people of London with the use of quantitative methods of data analysis so that the impacts can be measured. In addition, there is the possibility that the Olympics resulted in an impact on unity of the people of London in a number of ways. It would be suitable if future studies investigated the impact of Olympics on the Unity and associations between communities in London.
There are also a number of negative social impacts that result from hosting Olympics in a country. These include moral degradation of the citizens of the host country as a result of hosting the events. For instance, there are certain countries where practices such as homosexuality and terrorism are common. The possibility of the people of Britain getting influenced into participating in these practices was more likely as a result of hosting the London Olympics. However, this study does not investigate how the London Olympics contributed to moral degradation of the people of London. It would be suitable if future studies determine the extent to which Olympic games contributes to moral decadence of the people in the host nation.
Another improvement that would result into better understanding of the topic is in-depth analysis of amount of income generated as a result of the Olympics and comparing with income from the Olympics so that it can be determined whether the Olympics in London resulted in any profits from investments in the activities. There is the need to determine whether the social disadvantages experienced by Londoners such as loss of businesses, displacement of people and poor sanitation were prevented to ensure people who were displaced were compensated for the loss of their business premises. When these recommendations are considered, it would be possible to anticipate any problem that any Olympic host nation is likely to face while hosting the games so that measures of countering such problems are formulated.