The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wasting Our Money

Wasting Our Money
It is reassuring to know that, despite the lousy state of the government's finances and the ongoing credit crunch, Gordon Brown and his minions are prepared to use our money to treat visiting Olympics officials in a manner akin to royalty.

The Times reports that organisers of the 2012 London Olympics have booked 1,925 rooms in London's best hotels for international delegates and their spouses at a cost of £10M.

The top officials will be staying in 345 suites costing up to £3,000 a night.

Half of this bill will be settled by London 2012, the Games organiser.

Apparently it is the most expensive block booking in Olympic history.

Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC), used to sitting in the very best seats of the Olympic gravy train, is surprised at Gordon Brown's generosity.

Oddly enough the details about the costs of these hotel rooms etc have been edited out of the online bid document, that is on the official 2012 website.

I wonder why?

It is apparent that no one is actually in charge of the budget for these absurd and unwanted games.

This fiasco will blow back on both the government (politically), and on the taxpayer (financially).

Now is the time to be seriously consideirng pulling out of the games.

The London Olympics is now completely out of control.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Livingstone Knew Olympics Budget Was Wrong

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, admitted on Radio Five Live that he knew that the original budget for the 2012 Olympics was an underestimate and that it was likely to rise significantly.


"I was fairly certain that it would end up costing us more."

That's alright then!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ken Ensnared Ministers

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, admitted yesterday that he ensnared ministers to host the London 2012 Games.

He also admitted that the didn't give a stuff about the three weeks of sport, but that his plan was to ensure that the East End of London was regenerated.


"I didn't bid for the Olympics because I wanted three weeks of sport.

I bid for the Olympics because it's the only way to get the billions of pounds out of the government to develop the East End.

It's exactly how I played it to ensnare the government to put money into an area it has neglected for 30 years

I assume he won't be attending the opening ceremony then?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Ostrich Budget

The Ostrich Budget
The government received a damning blow to its reputation for "financial competence" (I use that phrase with heavy irony) yesterday, when the Public Accounts Committee accused it of "wishful thinking" over the "budget" (an exaggerated term for the back of an envelope calculations) prepared by those "in charge" of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Committee warned that taxpayers may well have to pay more than the current £12BN (including £2BN running costs) estimated for the games. My own "thumb in the air" estimate is that the final bill will be around £20BN.

The Public Accounts Committee said that the Government excluded key costs from its original budget and more money would be needed, despite an "astonishing" injection of an extra £5BN.

The Committee found serious fault in the way ministers drew up and presented their original budget, and accused the DCMS of ignoring predictable costs.

Edward Leigh, the chairman, said that the department "ignored foreseeable major factors" such as contingency planning, tax obligations, and policing and wider security requirements.

"At the same time, the estimate of the extent to which the private sector would contribute funding towards the Games has proved little more than wishful thinking."

The Committee warned that the revised official public sector funding package "does not include all of the activities on which delivery of the Games and its legacy depends".

In other words, the costs will go beyond £12BN; the government, like an ostrich, has had its head in the sand when it prepared the "budget".

For example, the costs of Government departments working on the Games, as well as the costs of improving wider transport links are outside the budget.


-What kind of budget was this?

-Did anyone competent actually participate in its formulation?

Never entrust major long term projects to politicians. They do not have the skills, experience, qualifications or desire to manage them through from start to finish.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

What Legacy?

It seems that the much touted London 2012 Olympics legacy may in fact not be quite as tangible, or long lasting, as the organisers of the games would have us believe.

The New Economics Foundation, an independent thinktank, has issued a report that says the games are in danger of following previous Olympics, which boosted tourism, leisure and infrastructure but failed to improve the lives of the poorest residents.

It states that the enormous sums of money being pumped into the area will leak out to consultants, developers and large companies.

Local businesses will be unable to compete, and local people priced out of the housing market because of gentrification.

Josh Ryan-Collins, co-author of the report, said:

"Urgent action must be taken to prevent the communities of east London being trampled in the gold rush.

The regeneration legacy was not just an enlightened addition to the plan for the games - it was central to the bid

They are right to warn of the dangers, the sums of money involved in the games attracts "consultants" and other purveyors of unnecessary services/products like shit does flies.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Olympic Catastrophe

The budget and management of the London 2012 Olympics will get another well deserved kicking next week.

The Commons public accounts committee will publish a scathing report next Tuesday about the Games.

Don Touhig, who is on the committee, branded the ever spiralling budget as likely to go "into the Guinness Book of Records for the most catastrophic financial mismanagement in the history of the world".

Amongst the many budget concerns it seems that the cost of buying land for the Games, and compensating its previous owners, will be £30M higher than originally forecast.

The London Development Agency said the original budget for taking possession of the Olympic Park site in Stratford had been £594 million, but by the end of the last month £578.4million had already been spent.

In reply to a freedom of information request it added:

"The current estimated outturn budget for land and disturbance compensation payments is £624.41 million, with the increase of £30.37 million funded from the approved budget contingency."

Rather perversely the extra costs do not form part of the Olympics budget (which I believe will rocket to £20BN). An LDA spokesman said:

"Such costs are not included within the overall Olympic budget but, in any event, this does not affect in any way the £9.3 billion total outlined by Tessa Jowell to Parliament last year."

Jonathan Stephens, permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said that the Olympic project was equivalent to building something twice the size of Heathrow Terminal 5 in half the time.

Well, we all know how "successful" that has been don't we?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Olympics Torch Relay 2012

The chaos that is following the Beijing Olympic torch relay around the world, is causing British Olympic organisers to have cold feet about staging a similar event for the London 2012 Games.

Given that the British are not 100% popular in certain parts of the globe, and that the British government is spin obsessed, organisers are thinking of organising a torch relay "lite" which only takes place in the UK.

London 2012 deputy chairman Keith Mills, said:

"It is too early to say.

We are committed to a relay domestically and it will definitely go around the regions.

But it (going internationally) has not been ruled out or ruled in. It is something we will have to discuss with the International Olympic Committee

Tessa Jowell said:

"No decision has been made.

This is something that will be the subject of very careful consideration over the next four years. We do not have to make a decision until after the dust has settled over Beijing. Our aim is to host the best games ever

Their indecision and dithering over the torch relay gives some flavour of the "qulaity" of the people organising the 2012 Games.

Little wonder that the budget is out of control!

Monday, April 14, 2008

No Smoking Ban

Restaurants, bars and Internet cafes in Beijing have been exempted from a proposed public smoking ban in response to a backlash from business owners.

However, these venues will be required to separate smoking and non-smoking areas from May 1 as part of the new regulations.

Beijing had planned to ban or restrict smoking in most public places, as part of its pledge to hold a smoke-free Olympics.

Only government offices, schools, museums, hospitals and sports venues will be designated smoke-free areas.

Friday, April 11, 2008

UN No Show

The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, will not be attending August's opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

He cites "scheduling issues".


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brown Decides

Gordon Brown has finally decided, or rather, finally effectively communicated his decision about his attendance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

He will not attend the opening ceremony, but will attend the closing ceremony where the handover to London will occur.

At first sight it may appear that Brown has taken on board (albeit late in the day) the calls by some to boycott the opening ceremony. I would note that many of those who call for a boycott seem happy enough to buy Chinese products (clothes, consumer electronics etc).

The reality about Brown's announcement is not quite so straightforward. In truth he was never going to both the opening and closing ceremony, it takes 20 hours round trip to fly to Beijing; the closing ceremony for Britain is far more important, as that is when the games are handed over.

Therefore Brown had long ago made his mind up to only go to the closing ceremony.

The question that remains unanswered is this:

Why did he take so long to communicate this?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The True Cost of The Games

I have stated many times on this site that the true cost of London's Olympics 2012 will be around £20BN; eg in this article published September 2007.

It would seem that, according to The Times, I am right.

Budgets for the Olympics buildings bear little resemblance to reality as costs skyrocket, eg the bill for the aquatics centre is already four times higher than the original bid price.

Jack Lemley, the former chairman of the ODA, has warned that the cost of the Olympics will come to £20BN and that Ken Livingstone and Tessa Jowell had been understating the true costs.


"We will never be able to go really public with the full budget.

That was always suppressed and the mayor didn't want any significant growth in these budgets because it would create a bigger tax

Needless to say, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport deny this.

Time will prove Lemley and myself right.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Springtime in Paris

The Olympics torch came a cropper in Paris yesterday, despite heavy police and Chinese protection for the torch, the relay was abandoned in the face of some very assertive protests.

Whether the cost in terms of lousy pr and wasted man hours in protecting the torch, on its round the world relay, is worth it is open to question.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Olympics Torch

The Olympics torch managed to pass through London yesterday without being stolen, as some protesters tried to do.

There were scuffles and protests along the route, and 35 people were arrested; at some stages, the protection around the flame was three deep, making it almost impossible for the crowd to see it.

After a change of route, the Chinese ambassador was able to carry it unmolested through China town.

The cost of protecting the flame yesterday is estimated to be around £1M.

Money well spent?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Olympic Torch

The Olympic torch for the 2008 Beijing Games arrives in London today, not via Terminal 5 Heathrow.

It is expected to receive an lively welcome.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


A poll, commissioned by the BBC, reveals that 70% of British people believe the 2012 London Olympics will bring no real benefit to their area.

This is hardly surprising, the government and quasi bureaucracies have a terrible track record when it comes to managing/implementing large scale projects; eg The Dome, Terminal 5 Heathrow, the budget for the 2012 Olympics etc.

There will be no tangible legacy from the Games that benefit the people of Britain.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Olympic Torch

The Beijing Olympic torch is due to arrive in London in the coming days, as part of its world tour.

The original plan had been for it to arrive and be "welcomed" at London's "prestigious", "well functioning" new Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

However, given the ongoing fiasco at Heathrow, the torch will now arrive elsewhere in the airport.

This bodes ill for the 2012 London Games.

If we cannot even welcome a torch properly, how on earth do we welcome the thousands of Olympic tourists?