Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Recapture Delight about 2012, Londoners Are Told; Forget Bickering over Costs and Return to Spirit of 6 July, Says Olympics Chief

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Recapture Delight about 2012, Londoners Are Told; Forget Bickering over Costs and Return to Spirit of 6 July, Says Olympics Chief

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

THE International Olympic Committee's chief coordinator for the 2012 Olympics today called on Britain to recapture the enthusiastic "Spirit of 6 July" after months of bickering over costs.

Denis Oswald, in an interview with the Evening Standard, reminded politicians and Londoners of the delight they had shown when the Games were awarded to the capital in July 2005.

The bid's political consensus has since been shattered with Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell constantly under fire for failing to put a final figure on the bill for the Games which has already doubled from [pounds sterling]2.375 billion to [pounds sterling]5.1 billion in 18 months. Some experts predict it could rise to [pounds sterling]9billion.

But Mr Oswald said: "It is not for the IOC to interfere in the government discussions over the budget but I think it is important for London and the UK to remember the 'Spirit of 6 July' and the fantastic atmosphere and enthusiasm of the British people when the IOC awarded the Games to London.

"Then the Government, all political parties, the Mayor and the people of London and Britain put aside their differences and celebrated. It was also clear during the bid that everybody pulled together to help London win." The furore over the cost of the Olympic Park in Stratford and the surrounding infrastructure has been reported around the world. There is growing unease within the IOC that the "Olympic brand" is being associated with soaring costs.

Mr Oswald, who was also the chief coordinator of the problematic 2004 Athens Olympics when the IOC had to warn the Greeks about serious delays, was due to report on London 2012's woes to the IOC's executive board in Lausanne today.

The former Swiss Olympic rower said: "These discussions about costs are normal for any host city at this stage of preparations. That does not mean they are not important - of course they are in any democratic society.

"But it is also crucial that people separate-the costs related directly to the operating budget to run the Games from other regeneration costs. Many of these other projects would have been completed anyway, if the Games were not coming to London. …

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