Posted by: olymponomics | January 18, 2012

Risk talk ahead of the London 2012 Olympics

After an extended hiatus of this blog, I’ll be attempting to post regular updates in advance of the London 2012 Olympics, also exploring some of the themes from my book, Olympic Risks, which is being published by Palgrave Macmillan this year.

One of the notable features of the planning and organisation of large scale events and projects such as the Olympics is their creation of a climate in which there is intense dialogue about risk, both within stakeholder organisations and from experts across a range of fields, often amplified in the media and other interested parties. In just the past few days we have had warnings about the risk of epidemics of infectious disease for the general public, health risks to competitors from air pollution and the “perfect traffic storm” that will be created during the Games.

While it is easy to get caught up in the risk talk that goes along with these Games, the sorts of complex modelling and analysis that go on, in relation to public health, environmental conditions, transport, security and the like, which inform warnings about the preparedness and vulnerabilities of the host city, are quite standard operating practice for advance planning for the Olympic Games and other events on this scale. It is worth taking care, then, to not over-hype the risks of staging the Games, regardless of the cacophony of warnings of impending disaster and crisis. These sorts of risk assessments tend to be linked with calls for remedial action and the allocation of economic resources, and therefore have political as well as expert content.

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