The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Twenty Year Debt

It seems that the less than popular £675M smash and grab raid on the National Lottery, to pay for the increased cost of the London 2012 Olympics, could take until 2031 to be repaid in full.

That's a very long time!

Andrew Travers, finance officer for the London Development Agency, told the London Assembly that while most of the extra Lottery cash would be clawed back from land sales at the Olympic Park 10 years after the Games, it could take another decade for the full amount to be realised.

His testimony is somewhat at odds with the "official" view as promulgated by the Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell. She was happily telling MPs, at the same time that Travers was testifying, that it would take up to 10 years to recoup the money.

So who is right, finance officer or politician?

Need you ask?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Livingstone To Open 2012 Olympics

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, intends to preside over the opening of the 2012 Olympics.

This promise requires quite a leap of faith, as he is currently standing for re-election and even if he wins, his term of office will expire in Spring 2012. In order to open the August 2012 games, he would need to win this year's election and the one in 2012.

He also claims that the Olympics will be ready well ahead of time, and are on course to come in at least £1BN below the £9.3BN budget.

Well that's alright then!

Don't forget though, that this is man who promised not to raise the congestion charge at the last election; as soon as he won, he promptly raised the congestion charge.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Immigrant Ban To Be Lifted

It seems that, in its blind infatuation with the Olympics, the government is thinking of lifting the ban on non-EU unskilled workers being allowed to work in the UK in order that the preparations for the London 2012 Olympics meet their deadline.

Head of the new Migration Advisory Council (MAC), Professor David Metcalf, has told a committee of peers that the situation of UK immigration may have to change if there are labour shortages brought on by the Olympics.


"One would certainly want to see whether or not it could be sensibly filled by British employers. The worry I think one has about this, is the inevitable tension between the short run and the long run. If you talk about the Olympics having to be on-stream by 2012 and therefore the facilities having to be built by 2011, a modern apprenticeship is three years."

Under the point-based system for migrants, which will be introduced soon, workers who are considered unskilled and come from outside of the EU will be banned from the UK for "the foreseeable future".

The Olympics juggernaut is crushing all in its path.

Is this entirely wise that it is allowed to run amok in this way?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The New Dagenham

Whilst those who are pushing the London 2012 Olympics as being the springboard for the regeneration of the East of London, there are others who quite rightly see the legacy of the games as offering little more for the residents of the East as Dagenham did when it was constructed in the 1930's.

Lord Mawson has warned that the multibillion investment in renewal schemes around the Newham Olympic site was in danger of being wasted.


"The next 12 months will, for good or bad, cast the die for the next 100 years in east London.

What we see emerging . . . are two options: either we will build a new metropolitan district of London in the east, or we will end up with a giant housing estate

Mawson notes that simply building thousands of new homes, "which will look fine for the world's TV cameras in 2012" is not enough.


"Will today's public sector bodies leave us with another Dagenham on our doorstep for future generations? If so, a historic opportunity will have been missed, and east London will be destined to another 100 years of relative poverty and deprivation."

The "legacy" will be designed to look good on TV, and enhance the politicians' egos; it will not be designed to satisfy the needs of the people who have to live and work there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Shooting Party

As noted in an earlier article last year, there is a row between London 2012 organisers and the governing body of British Shooting over the proposed shooting venue for the London Olympics 2012.

Philip Boakes, chairman of British Shooting, wants the venue in Woolwich changed and has written to every MP on the subject.

Mr Boakes quite rightly believes that it is a waste of £25M to build the ranges, only to demolish them at the end of the Games. He wants the venue moved to Dartford, and the money invested into a shooting range that will remain after the Games.

London 2012, for their part, are insisting that the venue must be as near as possible to the Olympic Park.

Mr Boakes is quoted in The Times:

"Our alternative at Dartford also allows the athletes to remain in the Olympic Village - under 45 minutes drive away - so that argument does not stand. Other sports have already had their venues moved so why not shooting?

We will have nothing left for shooting after the end of the Olympics and that is the reason we are so unhappy

The games are a waste of money PERIOD!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Money Well Spent?

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, today unveils a new £9M international development project designed to inspire a new generation of sports enthusiasts around the globe.

London Olympic organisers are joining with UK Sport, the Premier League, Unicef and the British Council to develop 'International Inspiration', starting with five pilot schemes which will try to spread the Olympic message to some of the world's poorest countries.

The pilots, which will take place in India, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Palau and Zambia, will run until 2010.

The cost of "inspiration" is to be added to the £12BN London Olympics bill.

Money well spent?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Olympics Legacy

Tower Hamlets council is in talks with London 2012 Olympics organisers with a view to taking the land used for the Olympics site, after the Games, for a multi-faith cemetery.

Tower Hamlets council's regeneration director Emma Peters has been having preliminary talks with the Olympic Delivery Authority on a possible deal.

A symbolic legacy for these games!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Scotland Gets The Bill

In its continuing attempts to prevent the budget for the London Olympics 2012 spiralling even further out of control, the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) has sent a bill to Scottish Enterprise for £500K.

This being ODA's calculation of Scotland's share of the £6M construction cost of the Olympics site, failure to pay the bill will prevent full access to procurement opportunities.

Needless to say there are some very unhappy people north of the border, who accuse the ODA of contradicting its earlier pledges to spread the economic benefits of the 2012 games throughout the UK.

Andy Watson, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) Scotland's press and parliamentary officer and who also sits on the London 2012 Economic Development Sub-group, accused the ODA of attempting to "claw back" money to compensate for an overspend on its website.

He is quoted in the Scotsman:

"Scottish Enterprise is quite right if it is refusing to pay this.

They were not consulted in advance by the ODA about how the scheme was to be financed, they were simply sent an invoice for being included in the service. Their money is far better spent on supporting Scottish businesses.

This is the first big chance for the ODA to overcome scepticism on how the procurement side of the Olympics will be handled. Their message is: if you want to play, you have to pay

Pete Wishart MP, the SNP's Westminster spokesperson on culture, media and sport, said:

"Scottish lottery funds have just been raided to subsidise the Olympics and now we're being asked to pay for the privilege of competing for contracts. You really couldn't make it up."

I wonder what the ODA will do to cover the shortfall if Scotland doesn't pay up?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The £1BN Black Hole II

The government has denied the existence of £1BN blackhole in the London 2012 Olympics budget.

Well they would wouldn't they?

Culture Secretary, James Purnell, promised yesterday that no more money would be transferred if MPs voted to take take almost £1.1BN from the National Lottery to pay for the 2012 London Olympics.

The MPs duly agreed like sheep.

Purnell claims that the £12BN budget (including £2BN running costs) was "robust", and dismissed claims of a £1.1BN "black hole".


Where was dear old Tessa Jowell during this discussion?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The £1BN Black Hole

The £1BN Black Hole
Well, well, well after months of warning on this site that the London Olympics budget was built of sand guess what?

It seems that I was right.

A £1BN black hole has been unearthed in the budget for the London 2012 Olympics. It appears that property projections, that were backed by ministers, have turned out to be ludicrous.

A report commissioned for the London Development Agency (LDA) notes that the Government's estimates for the amount it will recoup in land sales after the Games are unrealistic.

What a surprise!

Given that the budget has skyrocketed from under £3BN to £12BN (including running costs of £2BN), and is likely to rise ever further, why is anyone remotely surprised that ministers are incapable of presenting reliable figures.

Needless to say, someone will end up having to foot the bill for this shortfall. That will of course be the hapless taxpayers, and the projects that they think that some of their tax money is funding such as; heritage, sports and arts.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, and the soon to be expunged Tessa Jowell the Olympics Minister, signed a memorandum of understanding last year stating that at least £1.8BN would be raised in land sales after the Games. This figure was based on a staggering, and absurd, 16% per annum estimate in the rise of land values over the next 15 to 20 years.

The latest figure shows a more modest £800M figure expected to be raised, a mere £1BN short of Jowell's estimate.

Mark Dorman, the director of development consultancy for Savills, told the Times that any idea of raising 16 per cent per annum "is complete madness to me".

Jowell, who is living in the past, is sticking to her guns and is still relying on the fact that land rose in value by 20% per annum over the last 20 years:

"[That] gives me confidence that enough will be raised from the land sales both to build the new houses and parts of the community in the Lower Lea Valley, but also to repay the National Lottery."

Well Minister, as the old stock market warning says "past performance is no guide to future performance".

Politicians, least of all "Nu Labour" politicians, should not be left in charge of large scale projects and budgets such as the Olympics; they are simply not qualified, capable or competent enough to handle them.

The Olympics, a living memorial to the folly that is "New Labour".

Monday, January 14, 2008

The True Cost of The Games

The Big Lottery Fund, which is responsible for handing out half the money for good causes raised by the Lotto, has reduced the amount distributed from £696M to £469M.


The government has diverted funds to the London 2012 Olympics.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Arsenic and Old Oil

The ground for the London Olympics site is so polluted with oil, arsenic and other contaminants that giant soil 'washing machines' have been brought in to process the soil in order that construction may start.

The two square miles between Stratford and Hackney Wick are now being cleaned, before construction starts in two months.

This has the "honour" of being Europe's largest land cleansing operation, it will remove over a century's worth of contamination.

Over 1.5 million cubic metres of soil has to be processed.

The Olympics Delivery authority's Utilities director, Simon Wright, said:

"It's enough to fill 600 Olympic sized swimming pools."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Droids To Patrol Olympics

DroidThe RAF will use MQ-9 "Reaper" robo-planes to patrol the skies over London during the Olympics in 2012.

The unmanned droids will fly above London to provide surveillance for the security of the Games. They are equipped with a multi-spectral telescopic imaging system, which can locate a human's body heat and see in the dark. They also carry a synthetic-aperture radar which can track people walking on the ground.

The droids are remotely controlled by pilots based on the ground.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Olympics Tax Hike

Given the ever ballooning budget for the London Olympics 2012, which currently stands at £12BN, it is hardly surprising that fears are being expressed that the cost of these unwanted games will be supplemented by an increase in council tax.

The Conservatives have reported that the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority has been handed the land and liabilities for the Olympics, leaving it facing the bill for any potential budget overrun.

They suggest that it would be used as a "Trojan horse" to increase local taxpayers' share of the Olympics bill.

However, have no fear, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has rejected this claim.

A spokesman for the DCMS said:

"The Lea Valley Regional Parks Authority does not have the legal powers to do what is suggested.

There is no way in which any 2012-related cost overruns could be the responsibility of the Park Authority, let alone lead to it seeking to burden council tax payers, in London or beyond, with them.

We have a robust budget for 2012 that will guard against cost overruns

So that's alright then!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's The Money Stupid

Not wishing to be left off the gravy train, that is the London 2012 Olympics, the building union Ucatt has warned that the games could be hit by strikes and delays unless a uniform rate of pay for workers is agreed.

Ucatt said that not doing so was "recipe for industrial disharmony".

It claims varying rates among 10,000 staff working on projects, including the main stadium, will cause delays as they switch jobs to get the best pay.

As noted many times before on this site, the Olympics are not about sport they are about money.