There’s a big billboard on the station platform at Luton. In big bold letters, it reads: “There would be no pounding hearts, tears of joy, seconds shaved, dreams made, or moments that last forever, without…” And then it lists all the corporate sponsors. Perhaps there’s one near you.
Fair enough, plenty of companies have chipped in. Since no corporate logos are displayed at the games themselves, refreshingly, they have to remind us of their benevolence in other ways. LOCOG are certainly doing their bit to celebrate the sponsors, with Lord Coe talking about the “mountainous amount of money” they have spent on the games.
Before the sponsors take too much credit, we ought to remind ourselves of the budget. We don’t know how much the Olympics will cost in total – somewhere around £13 billion. Of that, just £1.1 billion comes from the sponsors. To that add £2.2 billion of lottery money and about a billion in ticket sales and merchandise. Anything else is from the public purse, either from national government funding or the London authorities. Again, we don’t know the full cost yet, but the British taxpayer is likely to put about £9 billion into the games.
So, no games without the sponsors? Possibly, but we ordinary taxpayers deserve a billboard about nine times more. Just so we don’t get forgotten, here’s my version of the billboard. Feel free to pass it on.