Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympic Progress but at What Cost?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympic Progress but at What Cost?

Article excerpt

IT IS WELCOME news that the International Olympic Committee, visiting London this week, believes preparations for the London 2012 Games to be in good shape. Clearing the Olympic Park, preparing for the opening ceremonies and sorting out security measures are well in hand. On 345 of 350 points, London is well advanced by the standards of previous Games.

One of the remaining questions, however, concerns the hugely important matter of the budget. The IOC has asked the Olympic Delivery Authority for further clarification. Back in March, the new budget total of [pounds sterling]9.3 billion, three times that originally promised, was laid before the public, with assurances from the Chancellor in this newspaper that a magnificent Games would be delivered within this amount. Since then, however, there has been little additional detail.

Of course, the figure includes an additional contingency sum of [pounds sterling]500 million and a further fund of [pounds sterling]2.3 billion. However, it also subsequently emerged that a further [pounds sterling]1.1 billion, in the form of purchase and remediation costs for land that the London Development Authority is expected to resell, had been excluded from the total. If taxpayers are to be reassured that there will be no further surprises

and indeed that the contingency fund is not an invitation to contractors to pad out their estimates we need to know more now.

No one would want to detract from the good work the London organising committee, Locog, and the ODA have carried out so far. But a project of this size, with all its potential to regenerate much of east London and to inspire participation in sport, needs to take the public with it. As the furore over the Olympic logo shows, people are quick to express their displeasure if they believe a lavishly funded project is failing to deliver. The Chancellor and the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, should use this week's opportunity to give a cast-iron guarantee that the [pounds sterling]9.3 billion figure will not be exceeded, and show us the figures on which they base their assurances..

IT IS WELCOME news that the International Olympic Committee, visiting London this week, believes preparations for the London 2012 Games to be in good shape. …

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