No doubt we shall be returning to the Olympics in this column before the whole jamboree kicks off next July. For now we can just comment on a couple of aspects of the build-up.
Back in March there was an undignified spat between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the London Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG). BOA gets 20 percent of the profit from the Games, and argued that this should be calculated on the basis of the Olympics only, and so exclude any losses from staging the Paralympics. But the International Olympic Committee ruled against this idea, thus reducing the cut received by the BOA and increasing the amount kept by LOCOG.
And LOCOG and others won’t be making money just from this decision. For next door to the tube and train stations at Stratford is Westfield Stratford City, a huge shopping mall, in fact the largest urban shopping centre in Europe, due to open this September. The expectation (or hope) is that 70 percent of Olympic visitors will arrive at Stratford station, where they will walk to the Olympic park via Westfield. This will mean hundreds of thousands of visitors (and potential shoppers) each day the Olympics run.
After the Olympics, this mega-mall will still offer 300 shops, 50 food outlets, three hotels, a multi-screen cinema and a casino. It will also contain a ‘24-hour lifestyle street’, whatever that is. If all goes well for the company that owns it, it will become one of the country’s top ten shopping destinations. So there will be gold in them there tills, not just at medal ceremonies.