General

The complexities of Olympic cost benefit analysis

"On the Olympics she was telling me it was an enormous opportunity. Think of the impact on our young people, on fitness, on sport, on the country's self belief. I would say, 'Yes, but suppose we get beaten, and what's worse, we get beaten by the French and I end up humiliated?' One day when I had finished saying this to her in graphic terms, sitting in the Downing Street garden where, if the sun was shining, I would sit and have one-to-one meetings, she looked at me reproachfully and said 'I really didn't think that was your attitude to leadership. I thought you were prepared to take a risk. And it is a big risk.  Of course we may not win but at least we will have had the courage to try.' when Tessa says this, you feel a complete wimp and rather ashamed. You know she is manipulating you, but you also know it's a successful manipulation. 'Oh, Ok, we'll go for it.' "

The wimp in question is none other than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair explaining in his memoirs (published today) how the decision to bid for the Olympics was arrived at with Tessa Jowell, the minister with overall responsibility for sport at the time. It's good to see a sophisticated economic power engaging in carefully structured debate before reaching a major economic decision.

3 Comments

  • Avatar Of Donald A. Coffin
    Donald A. Coffin September 1, 2010

    Better that than some of the consultants reports I’ve seen…

  • Avatar Of Charlie Quirk
    Charlie Quirk September 1, 2010

    Reminds me of the part of Soccernomics when you quoted Ken Livingstone’s assessment that the Olympics would bring much needed swimming pools to the city of London — quite comical when you think about it.

    That said, most pols are savvy enough to realise that their legacy is contingent upon their concrete achievements. Perhaps Blair thought this would make him less of a pariah when he handed the keys to #10 over to Brown.

  • Avatar Of Nick Evans
    Nick Evans September 4, 2010

    Not every decision made by an economic power is an “economic decision”. Sorry economists.

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