The 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony will draw the world's audience to London on Friday night, but signal an Olympics that will be more glitz than substance for the host city.
The ceremony, directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle, cost £27 million ($42.3 million) and is expected to feature a performance by former Beatle Paul McCartney. The theme is "Isles of Wonder," a reference to William Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and is expected to simulate rain while running through popular British characters like Harry Potter, James Bond and Alice in Wonderland.
The star-studded affair still hadn't sold out the day before the event, though. On Thursday the Associated Press reported that there were still tickets available in the two highest price categories -- £2,012 or £1,600 -- for a stadium that can seat 62,000.
Organizers described the amount of remaining tickets as only "a few," but having tickets available to the glitziest event of the Olympics highlights a growing problem for the London Games. The Olympics, which cost an estimated £11 billion, aren't expected to provide near the economic boost that organizers initially hoped for.
"It would seem that while the London Games will bring much pleasure to many people, it is unlikely that this will come without a sizable price tag," Monash University's John Madden wrote in a paper published on Mindful Money.
The Olympics are often billed as a huge boon for the host city, but because of rising costs for infrastructure and security, are often not worth it. For instance, the 2004 Olympics in Athens ended up costing Greece 10 times its initial estimate of $1.6 billion and directly contributed to Greece's current debt crisis, according to Time.
Worse for England, Moody's issued a report in May that it didn't expect the Olympics "to provide a substantial boost to the UK economy" and the impact of "infrastructure developments on UK GDP has probably already been felt." Given how disastrous the UK's most recent GDP figure was -- it declined by 0.7 percent, the most since 2009 - the UK could use any GDP boost it can get.
Generally, organizers hope that tourists flock to the host city and boost local businesses like hotels, but a study by Trivago.com showed London-area hotels were still one-third empty as of June. That isn't good news considering hotels were half-full as early as January.
Not all is bad for England.There are some benefits to hosting an Olympics, namely commandeering the world's attention for a three-week span. China spent close to $40 billion on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but had clear political goals in showcasing the positive aspects of a nation known for Communism.
England will have that same opportunity to showcase all of its strengths with the 2012 Olympics, but don't expect the country to reap many financial benefits.