The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Private Militia

Whilst the media and journalists get themselves into a lather over alleged reporting restrictions in China, in the run up to the 2008 games, they may care to take a look at what is happening in the UK as we prepare for the 2012 games.

Organisers of the 2012 Olympics being accused of running "private militia", in their desire to provide security for the 2012 games and to protect the construction site.

It seems that a couple of amateur photographers were targeted by heavy-handed security guards at the stadium building site in East London, this also happened a year ago when photo enthusiast Dr Patrick Green clashed with two security guards at the site.

Louis Berk and Steve Kessel claim that they clashed with four security personnel while on a 'public pavement' outside the construction area in early May.

Guards were under the impression that they had been taking pictures of the construction site through a hole in the fence.

Mr Berk was quoted in Amateur Photographer:

"The interrogation then turned to the content of our cameras,' said Louis, who lives in north London.

The leader of the pack told us we were not allowed to photograph security staff and demanded we show him the pictures. Neither I nor my friend had taken any pictures – in fact, my friend was using a film camera so it would have been impossible to comply with this illegal request

In a letter to Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chief executive David Higgins, Mr Berk accused the authority of operating the equivalent of a "private militia".

The ODA are investigating.

China has only recently started to open up, therefore there will still be issues wrt press freedom etc; Britain is one of the world's oldest democracies, there is no excuse for this kind of heavy handed behaviour.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

London Olympics Jeopardise Infrastructure

The ever ballooning costs of the London 2012 Olympics are threatening the funding of other more important infrastructure projects in the capital.

That at least is the view of Bob Neill MP, who was speaking on behalf of London mayor Boris Johnson. Mr Neill said that he feared that the government would let its commitment to Crossrail slide to fund the Games.

Neill said:

"With the Olympics the competition for funding for major infrastructure projects is tough.

It is important we all make a strong case for investment in London and make sure the pressure of the Olympics doesn't cause a back-slide on Crossrail

Neill was speaking at the launch of recommendations to prevent climate change by the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The question is, exactly what will be the legacy of the Games?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Untouchable

The UntouchableWhenever a politician claims that a particular sum of money is "ring fenced" for a specific purpose, much like when they open their mouths, always assume that they are lying.

We were promised by Tessa Jowell that the £2.2BN contingency fund set aside for last-minute costs of the 2012 Olympic Games was "untouchable", and would be locked away for years.

It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that ministers are now planning to use a large chunk of that fund, in order to ensure that the Olympic village is built as planned.

Negotiations on the public-private deal between the Olympics authorities and Bovis Lend Lease, the development firm selected to build the village, have hit a "snafu" as a result of the credit crunch.

Bovis Lend Lease is apparently having difficulties raising the necessary money to fund the £2BN project. Bovis Lend Lease is also understood to be concerned that a London property price crash would drastically reduce the amount it could recoup when selling or renting the homes in east London after the games.

To the rescue comes the "untouchable" fund. In order to release the money, Jowell and Alistair Darling have to give approval.

The question is what happens when the "untouchable" fund is all used up, and that there is another funding "emergency"?

Oh, wait a minute, the budget will simply be increased - problem solved!

The Olympics, a licence to print money!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beijing Bus Banned

Ken Livingstone's grandiose and expensive plans to send a double decker London bus by road to Beijing have been kicked into touch by the London Olympics organising committee.

Ostensibly the ban was in response to the earthquake in China.

The trip, which was to be undertaken by eight drivers at a cost of £450K, was considered to be unsafe and in bad taste, given the scale of the recent disaster in China.

However, given that Boris Johnson the new mayor had denounced it during the election campaign as a publicity stunt and a "ludicrous waste of public money", the decision to ban it was regarded by his aides as a "happy coincidence".

Unfortunately, taxpayers will still pay more than half the bill for the project because of the expense incurred in planning the journey and hiring bus drivers.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Olympics On Budget

Gordon Brown has promised that the London 2012 Games will be on time and on budget.

Brown made the promise whilst visiting East London.

Brown said:

"I think that what people do want to know is that it is on budget and on time.

We already started building this stadium three months ahead of schedule. It is plain that people such as the Olympic Delivery Authority (in charge of Olympic venue and infrastructure) are determined to come in on budget and on time


Except for the fact that the London games are already over the original budget.

I assume that if you keep revising the budget upwards then, by Brown's definition, the games will never be over budget.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Inspectors Call

This week the IOC's 2012 co-ordination commission visits London to assess how well preparations for the London 2012 Olympics are progressing.

Whilst building work will start 3 months ahead of schedule, there are other issues that will cast a cloud over this visit.

The budget is out of control and the credit crunch may well adversely affect financing for the games.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Boris Appoints Financial Expert

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, will hire a financial expert from the City to analyse the budget for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Mayor will appoint an accountant or investment banker to determine whether the £9.3BN, currently budgeted for the Games, is delivering value for money.

Remember folks, back in September 2007, I predicted that the final costs for this white elephant would be around £20BN. I see no reason to change my view.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pre Fab

In an interesting move, given the property crisis in Britain, Travelodge is planning to build several "modular" pre fab hotels in London in time for the 2012 Games.

The 120 room modules are pre-built in metal containers in factories near Shenzhen, China.

Seemingly, despite the property downturn, it's simply too expensive to use British labour to build these.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beijing Safe

In the wake of Monday's tragic earthquake in South eastern China, which has killed at least 10,000 people, officials are keen to point out that the Olympics will be safe.

Zhang Jian of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) said:

"What I want to say to foreign visitors is that the Olympic Games are safe, Beijing is safe, China is safe.

When constructing any building in Beijing, you have to ensure it is able to resist earthquakes of up to eight on the Richter scale so the Olympic venues will not be in danger from earthquakes

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Size Matters

Plans to use Greenwich Park for the Olympics 2012 three day eventing have hit a snag.

The park is too small, and filled to the gills with archaeological treasures (Roman remains) including trees dating from the reign of Charles II.

Dane Rawlins, the rider and Olympic trainer is quoted in the Telegraph saying:

"We shouldn't have to desecrate a jewel of London to put on a two-week horse event.

The cross-country will ruin the park. They will have to cut the paths out and the track will have to go through the flower garden. The tree canopy is too low and trees will have to be cut or removed

Locog disagree with the campaign against using the park:

"We think that Greenwich Park will be one of the most amazing venues for the 2012 games and we believe that concerns about it being too small can be overcome.

Lots of people think the cross-country course will be fantastic. It hasn't even been designed yet, but we will take into account people's views

They would say that, wouldn't they?

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Work To Commence on London Stadium

Work on the construction of London's 80,000 seat Olympic stadium for the 2012 games will start in the next two weeks, according to the BBC.

When the games end, the current plan is for the stadium to be turned into a 25,000 seat community venue.

Strangely enough, given the shambles of the budget, construction is actually going to start 3 months ahead of schedule.

A cynic might raise the following caveats:

1 Given the shambles of T5 and Wembley, the contractors will need all the time that they can get in order to finish their work in time for the games; this is bound to run over schedule.

2 By starting work now, the contractors lessen the chances of anyone revising the budget and design.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008


At least 94,000 security staff will be on duty at the Beijing Olympics this August. In contrast to this, there will be 10,500 athletes.

The operation will be led by the paramilitary police, members of which are currently accompanying the Olympic torch on its world tour.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sold Out

The third batch of domestic Olympic tickets for the Beijing games was sold out in two days, Chinese state media said today.

There will be no danger of empty stands at the Beijing Olympics.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Scramble For Tickets

Despite the hypocritical calls by some (who own Chinese sourced products) to boycott the 2008 Olympics, tickets for the games are selling like hot cakes.

The third tranche of tickets (1.38 million) was released for sale on Monday, and people queued overnight at Bank of China branches around China to buy them.

Tickets to track and field matches, beach volleyball matches, volleyball matches and basketball matches were sold out by the end of the day.

A fourth and final tranche of tickets will be released for sale in China in July.

Hotels are also doing brisk trade, and many are fully booked.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spending Money Like Water

The shadow Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, is quoted in The Guardian as saying:

"The conclusion that money has been spent like water on an over-elaborate aquatic centre does nothing to restore confidence in the financial management of London 2012."

I couldn't agree with him more.

The Olympics 2012 budget has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

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