Skip to content

Olympics information note

Information note

The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics took place from 27 July to 12 August 2012 (with a few events starting on 25 July), and from 29 August to 9 September respectively. An earlier article (Measuring the impact of the Olympics in the National Accounts (115.6 Kb Pdf) ) explained how the impact of the Olympics would be included in the National Accounts. This short note provides some supplementary information on how various types of activity related to the Olympics will be reflected in ONS statistics.


The Olympics and Paralympics have created temporary jobs, which should be reflected in employment figures derived from the Labour Force Survey. ONS publishes estimates of temporary employees and estimates of total employment by region. The Games have also resulted in changes to the work of the police and transport workers, which may affect hours worked. A large number of volunteers assisted visitors to the Olympics and Paralympics, but since they were not paid, they were not employed and do not appear in the employment figures. The workforce jobs series measures jobs through a survey of employers on a particular date within the final month of a quarter (March, June, September and December). As there is not a reference date during the Olympic period, no major effect is expected in this series.

International travel

ONS estimates of overseas travel and tourism visits and expenditure are based on interviews with travellers at the end of their visit. Therefore the majority of visits to the UK for the Olympics and Paralympics will be seen in August and September. The 'Overseas Travel and Tourism, Monthly Release – August 2012' statistical bulletin will include estimates of the number of visitors to the UK who attended an Olympics event, facilitated by inclusion of additional Olympics-based questions added to the International Passenger Survey in 2012.

Some displacement was expected with general tourist traffic reduced by the Olympics, and indeed British Airports Authority (BAA) reported that in July, UK airport passenger traffic through their airports was estimated to have declined by 4.1%.

Olympics and Paralympics-related expenditures

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Limited (LOCOG) states that the Olympics and Paralympics generated around £580 million in ticket sales. This has been split between sales to UK residents and sales to overseas residents. Both elements contribute to output and are included in ‘recreation’ in the Index of Services. Overseas sales are an international export of services, and these are captured as part of the expenditure by visitors measured by the International Passenger Survey and also in the UK trade statistics.

Television and certain sponsorship rights are purchased from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), so the only part of this included in the UK National Accounts is transfers from UK companies to the IOC (as imports of services). The IOC makes a contribution from the global receipts of sales of these rights to LOCOG. This is treated as a transfer, and so does not add to UK output.

Future publications

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has a programme for evaluation of the Olympics which you can see here.

ONS will produce a retrospective article summarising the movements of relevant time series around the times of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, the effect of these events on the series cannot be estimated directly from the collected data. Note that no estimates of the impact on series attributable to the Olympics will be included since such effects cannot be separated from the other effects in the series (see this Developing a Policy on Special Events in ONS (209.3 Kb Pdf) ) on how the special events policy was constructed).


Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.