Today marks the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Mitt Romney’s impolite remarks about whether the British people are ready (or excited enough) to welcome the eyes of the world into their City got me thinking. What must it be like to see your hometown explode in size for a couple weeks? The only thing I can compare it to is living in a college town year round: when the students arrive at the start of each semester, it feels like a hostile invasion. Now imagine that invasion was 8 million people strong!
For those of us who’ve never been to an Olympic Games, it’s hard to fathom just how pronounced of an impact hosting the Games can be. We can talk about attempts to make the Olympics “more sustainable” all we want: the fact is that doubling the population of a city overnight is going to have some pretty serious side effects.
Putting real numbers on the size and magnitude of this impact can be eye opening. As the infographic below explains, London will spend nearly 9.3 billion pounds ($14.6 billion) on transportation upgrades alone in an attempt to accommodate the influx of bodies all jostling for a glimpse of Olympic glory.
Countries lament their dwindling budgets every time we suggest an upgrade to education, health care, or renewable energy, but have no problem going in to debt for a three-week party? It makes you wonder, is all this spending really worth it?
Top image via Thinkstock, infographic via ClickSoftware workforce management software