The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Final Dash

President Hu Jintao of China has said that preparations for the Beijing Olympics, the games begin on 8 August, have entered their "final dash".

Hu talked about the games as he was inspecting transport facilities in Beijing.


"Preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games have entered the stage of the final dash.

A good transportation environment is an important guarantee for a successful Olympics

Part of the plans for improved transport and air quality, is the removal from the roads of 45% of Beijing's 3.29 million cars.

Three new subway lines have been built, and there is a newly rebuilt and expanded railway station that will officially open on 1 August.

Hu went on to say:

"We don't just want first class facilities, we also must have first class management and first class service."

The organisers of the London Olympics, and indeed those in charge of our lamentable public transport infrastructure and Hetahrow, would do well to listen to what President Hu has to say.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, has stated that there is "confusion" among the public about the rising costs of the 2012 London Olympics. In his view this confusion arises because of the differences "between the operational budget and the infrastructure budget".

The total budget for the infrastructure of the Games is set at £10BN, the running costs are set to be around £2BN on top of that.

Those who regularly read this site will have had no such confusion, as I have always clearly stated that there is a budget (currently £12BN) which includes £2BN running costs.

However, I suspect that some of those allegedly "in charge" of the budget or overseeing it in the UK may have forgotten the £2BN running costs.

The fact remains that the current budget of £12BN will rise, as it is clear that those "in charge" of it are not effective in their roles or suitably qualified.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Visa Restrictions

The LA Times reports that China's recently tightened visa restrictions, imposed for public security reasons ahead of the Olympic Games, are having a negative effect on travel to China.

The government is now requiring business visa applicants to submit papers bearing official stamps from local governments and the hotels where they will be staying.

Killing the golden goose before it has laid the egg is not necessarily very wise.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Significant Budget Overrun

The National Audit Office (NAO) has issued a bleak warning about the high risk of a significant budget overrun for the 2012 London Olympics.

To regular readers this warning will come as little surprise. The current budget (£12BN, including running costs) will simply not be enough, my money is on a final cost of around £20BN.

The NAO state that the key risks are security costs, the uncertainty over the financing of the Olympic Village and a lack of a coherent plan for the legacy of the Olympic venues; ie the whole event has been put together on the back of an envelope, without any serious planning or thought about the consequences and costs.

How very Nu Labour!

The NAO doesn't mince its words and states that the official budget for the games could ultimately be "blown out of the water".

The key issue being that there is still no "fully costed" plan.

If it were not so serious, it would be laughable as to how a major event of this nature could be so badly planned and organised.

How very Nu Labour!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Londoners May Get Stiffed With Olympic Bill

It seems that there is some doubt as to whether the government will pick up the tab for any cost overruns for the 2012 London Olympics, this would mean that Londoners would get stiffed with the bill.

The issue was given prominence by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme.

Mr Johnson said:

"There is a dispute at the moment between the GLA and the mayoralty and the government about who is up for the over-runs in so far as they may or may not occur.

The details of this deal are from clear.

What I want to do is to make sure there are no over-runs

Whether the government picks up the tab, or Londoners do, it will still be the taxpayer that foots the bill.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Costs of London Olympics Likely To Rise

I am not the slightest bit surprised to read that the costs for the 2012 London Olympics, despite already being way over the original "budget", are expected to rise further.

The budget, if one can really call it that that, currently stands at £12BN (including £2BN running costs).

David Ross, the multi-millionaire entrepreneur, nominated last month by Boris Johnson to be his man on the board of LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games has put together a report about the preparations for the games.

The report says that the construction of the Olympic Village is under threat because of the recent contraction in the credit markets, fall in property prices and the continuing rise in the cost of building materials due to the boom in economic activity in China.

Ross says:

"Some significant additional public sector funding is likely to be required to deliver the project."

£20BN here we come!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Big Party

On 24 August 2008 in London there is to be a free party for 40,000 people in front of Buckingham Palace, and a larger event in Beijing.

The party and Beijing event is to mark the moment when London officially takes over from Beijing as Olympic host city. The handover will form part of the Beijing closing ceremony.

There will be three dance groups involved in London's segment, and a London bus will enter the Beijing arena carrying David Beckham and X-Factor winner Leona Lewis.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, will be in Beijing where he will receive the Olympic flag.

The one bright spot in the 2012 Games is the fact that London now has a mayor who might actually be able to trim the costs of this juggernaut.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Boris Looks To The Legacy

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has given an interview to The Independent in which he outlines his determination to cut back on the costs of the 2012 London Olympics, and to ensure that there will be a lasting legacy.


"We are looking at ways of saving.

Everybody is worried we are going to waste squillions on projects that are going to have no lasting benefit for east London. That is why I want to make sure that there is a proper legacy. I'll be using my position on the Olympic Board to make sure that we deliver value for money not only for London, but the whole country.

We are going to see some action. We need a master plan and we must get our skates on. While we pour all this money into an Olympic stadium, aquatic centre, media centre and all the rest, we've got to think:

'What's it going to be in five years' time?'

We don't want to sink billions into east London without a long-term benefit, and keeping a cap on the costs. Regeneration is wonderful but the Olympics are about sport

I hope that he and Kate Hoey, his appointment as Commissioner for Sport, can make a genuine impact on the Olympics budget and legacy.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

China Bans Fireworks

China has announced a ban on all fireworks in Beijing leading up to and during the Olympics, for safety reasons.

The firework ban will last from July 1 to October 8. The games begin on August 8.

The sale of firecrackers will also be banned, and all stocks will be stored in warehouses specially designated by the city's safety officials.

However, it is unlikely that the ban will apply to the opening and clsoing ceremonies of the games.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

The Olympics Juggernaut

Manor Garden allotments have been destroyed in order to make way for the London 2012 Olympics.

These allotments were a philanthropic gift, supporting 150 families in the East End of London. Given the rocketing price of food they would have helped eek out many families hard pressed budgets.

Nothing stands in the way of the Olympics juggernaut!

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Free Swimming For Over 60s

Swimming pools will be free for the over 60s, as part of the government's plans to boost the UK's fitness in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.

As part of its Olympic programme, the government wants to make 2 million people more active by the time the games start in July 2012.

I will believe that when I see it!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lack of Support For London Games

The BBC conducted a survey in April that showed that 60% of Londoners felt that the 2012 games would bring no real benefit to London.

Ex-Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis has now pitched in, and said that Londoners need to "endorse" the games.

She is quoted on the BBC:

"You need the big support of the people in this city.

You need the big support of the people in this city

Ms Bakoyannis, who is now Greece's foreign minister, also said:

"They have to be proud of London, they have to be ambitious.

You can do nothing alone

Maybe so, but even though the residents of Athens ended up supporting the gamnes in 2004 they were still saddled with an enormous bill that will take decades to pay off, and derelict stadiums and venues that are of no use to man nor beast.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mugabe Style Land Grab

The plans for the "popular" and "well organised" London Olympics are causing more problems for those in the path of the Olympics juggernaut.

The 350 firms which were forced to move out of East London, so that the 2012 Olympic Park could be built, have yet to be paid their full compensation.

HMM, a newspaper wrapping and delivery firm that was served a CPO (compulsory purchase order), is preparing to take the London Delivery Authority (LDA) to court.

Ivor Gershfield, HMM's chief executive, is quoted in the Telegraph:

"I assumed that our business would be able to carry on where it left off. That is the idea of a CPO.

What happened was a Mugabe-style theft of our land. We were given assurances that they broke

Seamus Gannon, who runs concrete recycling company Bedrock Crushing, is taking his case to a tribunal.

"I'm not frightened to speak out because I'm getting screwed anyway. They bulldozed me. The way they dealt with me was to say 'Here's an offer and that's it'."

Mr Gannon said that he spent £180K on clearing his site in Marshgate Lane and moving, but the LDA paid only £75K in compensation.

Nothing as inconvenient as people's livelihoods will stop the Olympics juggernaut!

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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Legacy - A Warning

Much is made by the London Olympics organisers of the so called "legacy" of the Games. They assure us that the £12BN of our money that is currently budgeted to be spent on these games will give rise to a legacy that will last, and benefit the people of London.

They should take heed as to what has happened to the "legacy" of the Athens Games of 2004.

The buildings constructed for the Athens Olympics (cost £9BN) are fly blown, closed to the public and covered in graffiti.

21 of the 22 Olympic venues are in disrepair, and are under guard to prevent vandalism.

Greece's legacy of the games is a national budget deficit of 6.1%, more than twice the maximum allowed under European Union rules.

Greece has found that the games were a complete waste of time and money.

Let us trust that the London organisers take heed.

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