Visitor (Im)Mobility, Leisure Consumption and Mega-Event Impact: The Territorialisation of Greenwich and Small Business Exclusion at the London 2012 Olympics (Duignan and Pappalepore, 2019)

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Focusing on the London 2012 Olympics, we investigate the impact of mega-sport events’ spatial transformations on visitor mobility, local leisure consumption and resulting small business trade. Our case study draws on 43 in-depth interviews with local authorities, governmental and non-governmental project actors, and small-local leisure and visitor economy businesses (retail and hospitality) located at the heart of a ‘Host Event Zone’ in Greenwich, London. We supplement subjective accounts with a documentary analysis of
policy reports, media, and archival material as the basis for our empirical analysis. Our findings reveal a major dichotomy between the ‘rhetoric’ of inclusion and local ‘realities’ of exclusion as security planning and spatial controls served to close off public spaces and local attractions: diverting visitor flows and leisure consumption towards official event sites, away from local businesses. We illustrate how such urban processes effectively render a vibrant business community invisible and visitors immobile to explore local community spaces during the live staging periods. We close with implications for event organisers, managers and policymakers focused on re-configuring the socio-spatial elements of Olympic organisation and re-direct and mobilise visitor economy flows towards more open civic and leisure spaces in the hope of better (re)distributing consumption into host communities.

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