Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sport U-Turn on Report Boosts Games Bid

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sport U-Turn on Report Boosts Games Bid

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

THE Government opened the door for a London bid for the 2012 Olympics today when they reworked a controversial thinktank report on British sport which claimed there was no financial benefit from staging major events like the Games or the World Cup.

The report by Downing Street's Performance and Innovation Unit is published today without the controversial claim which caused a furore among sports leaders when a draft of its findings was published in the Evening Standard in October.

Also omitted is the suggestion that sporting icons like David Beckham and Tiger Woods don't encourage children to take up sport and that Government involvement in sport should be based around the issue of promoting the "health of the nation" rather than competitive excellence.

Sources said the changes were made because the Government did not want to "back themselves into a corner" over the Olympics ahead of a Cabinet decision about a London bid next month.

The development will encourage supporters of a 2012 campaign, especially the British Olympic Association leaders who are due to hold a key meeting with Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell today when they will stress that it is "now or never" for a London bid.

In a foreword to the 200-page report, Jowell stressed the Government needed to do their homework before bidding for major events.

She and Sports Minister Richard Caborn recently completed a series of visits to former and future Olympic cities including M u n i c h , Moscow, Sydney, Barcelona and Athens, the 2004 hosts.

Jowell said: " Mega events s u ch as the Olympic Games or World Athletics Championships can only succeed if central government is closely engaged froman early stage.

" To do this effectively, government needs to seek out and utilise the expertise that already exists and harness new skills to ensure that costs, benefits and risks are assessed before the bidding takes place."

But she added: "A 20-year strategy for bidding for mega events will be part of our wider vision for sport over the next two decades. The whole Government - from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor down - are aware of the value of sport; value in improving health and tackling obesity; value in giving young people confidence and purpose to divert them from drugs and crime. …

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