London Latest - PM Predicts Olympics Boost; Spots Remain in Stratford City

(ATR) David Cameron expects $1.5 billion uptick for British businesses ... Westfield nears Games capacity ... Team GB gymnastics qualifies ... Malawi targets 2012.

Cameron: Olympics Boost Economy

London 2012 will mean more than $1.5 billion for local businesses, says British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The London Evening Standard reports that Cameron extolled the networking possibilities of the Olympics, specifically a giant conference that will bring 200 executives from big names such as Google, Goldman Sachs, Nissan and Prudential to the U.K.

"This summer's Olympics will put the eyes of the world on Britain as we host not just an unparalleled sporting spectacle, but also a chance for companies from across the globe to interact and do business here in the UK," he said.

"We expect these events to generate at least [$1.5 billion] for British businesses and they are vital to our efforts to secure a long-term return to sustainable growth."

The investment conference will be held on the eve of the Olympics in Lancaster House.

Remaining Spots in Stratford City

Westfield Stratford City has a few remaining hospitality and showcasing spots available for the London Olympics.

"With the Games now just around the corner, our inventory of sites is down to the final few, so this really is the last opportunity for NOCs, international federations, broadcasters and sponsors and non-sponsor organizations to secure their own piece of the action this summer," says Mark Zimmer, Westfield's head of 2012 brand alliance.

The megamall features 250 shops and 70 restaurants and overlooks Olympic Park. During the Games, it will serve as the main entrance for spectators.

Gymnastics Qualifiers

Four teams booked spots to the London 2012 artistic gymnastics competition.

Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain captured spots one through four at the gymnastics test event in London on Tuesday.The British men will compete as an Olympic team for the first time since Barcelona.

Also up for grabs are individual spots at the Games for both men and women. Competition in the test event runs until Jan. 18.

Some U.K. Companies Not Ready for Games

Nearly a third of British businesses are not prepared for the London Games, according to a survey by Olympic sponsor BT.

The study, which surveyed 1,200 companies, showed that while 93 percent of businesses foresee negative effects such as supply chain disruption and staffing problems, nearly 30 percent have not made basic preparations for the Games.

According to the research, most of the companies, 73 percent, also see a chance to profit from London 2012.

"Despite the tough economic climate, we can tell from our own customers that London 2012 presents both challenges and opportunities for public and private sector organizations," said Jeff Kelly, CEO of BT Global Services.

"But success or failure depends on how ready they are. There's still time to get plans in place, but with less than seven months to go, we do urge all organisations to begin preparations now or miss out on the economic benefits."

British Government Likes Gatwick Plans

British transportation secretary Justine Greening says she likes Gatwick Airport’s decision to invest $1.5 billion in infrastructure upgrades before the Olympics.

"The Olympics can be a real boost to jobs, businesses and tourism and I am determined that transport will play a full part," she was quoted in a post on the website of TRL, a British-based transportation research organization.

Greening paid a visit to the second-busiest airport in London on Monday and said she feels the airport has enough staff to cope with travel demands during the Games.

"Obviously the athletes are the pinnacle, but we will get this overwhelming sense that this a once-in-a-lifetime event for all of us," said Stephen Wingate, CEO of Gatwick International Airport.

"What we've got is a lot of staff who want to be a part of the Olympics.

"We will be able to deal with them with the number of staff we have got here and we'll make sure the resources are in place to provide Olympic services."

Malawi Targets Olympics

Malawi plans to send athletes in five sports to London.

"We had to include boxing, table tennis and tae-kwon-do because they won medals during international assignments," said MOC vice president Flora Mwandira, also named as the team chef de mission.

"We feel these sporting disciplines have what it takes to compete at international level."

Written by Ed Hula III.

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