After years of preparation, London is in the starting blocks for the Olympic Games which begin in three weeks’ time.
The British capital’s already world famous landmarks will reach a huge worldwide audience.
New sporting venues, transport links and buildings such as The Shard – the EU’s tallest building – are designed to take British pride to dizzy heights.
They have also sent costs through the roof: London looks set to be among the most expensive Olympics ever, reaching a total of some 12 billion euros.
One recent report from the ratings agency Moody’s says the games are unlikely to provide a substantial boost to the UK economy.
“It’s because there will be some off-setting implications so on the one hand people who might have been coming to London anyway may avoid London because of the Games and don’t want to get caught up in it. At the same time there may be a degree of business disruption which might affect local businesses in the area,” said Moody’s spokesman Colin Ellis.
Much of the investment has been made in the east of London.
The landscape in Stratford – once one of the poorest areas in England – has changed massively since it was chosen as the main venue for the games.
As well as the Olympic Park, Westfield is now Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre.
Reporting from London for euronews, Veronika Kormaier said: “Olympic Fever hasn’t yet arrived in Stratford. The area is still under construction. Although the Olympic site is impressive, local people are worried that the games will influence their everyday life too much.”
Inside the Stratford Centre, there is no sign that the games will be unfolding only a couple of hundred metres away.
Some local people – rather than seeing a potential boost for their businesses and the local community – are concerned at what they stand to lose.
“Well I’m not too pleased with it myself, because I think it’s going to disturb us. It will possibly fetch a bit of trade here, but it’s going to cause havoc on the roads around here, that’s for sure,” said 80-year-old fish seller Ronald Harvey.
“When I didn’t get any tickets, because I work in the area I did feel a bit (upset). I know people who are in Australia who got eight pairs of tickets. They’re coming from Australia and we didn’t get any,” said Paul Smith, a butcher.
The build-up to the Olympics has seen an avalanche of figures in terms of potential costs and benefits to the British economy.
Local people will find out soon what the Games will bring them in reality.
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