Games’ double-edged legacy

Any financial gains from staging the Olympic Games will be felt in the long term, while the most immediate effect will be a slowdown in economic growth over the next few years, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers presented yesterday in Athens. The consultant and accountancy firm’s Rosemary Radcliffe said that it was difficult to assess the economic impact of the Games. She said that Greece had, thanks to preparations for the Games, enjoyed four years of strong economic growth and she forecast that Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) would rise 4.25 percent in 2004. However, growth will be reduced to 3 percent, or even less, in 2005, depending on how Greece takes advantage of the infrastructure and know-how (for example, in extra personnel skills) that it acquired because of the Olympics. The report says that delays in construction projects and the extra cost incurred because of them and other factors, such as security, are worrying. «The excessive cost of the Games will result in the budget deficit exceeding 3 percent of GDP in 2004, something which must be corrected in subsequent years. Besides the expected drop in investments, forecasts agree that the danger of a reduction in the rate of growth to 3 percent in 2005 is real,» the report says, adding, «The new infrastructure created for the Games may be a legacy with positive effects for Athens, but this legacy may come with a debt that will take years to pay off.»