Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The London Olympics are the new Millennium Dome

Liberal Democrat Voice points us to an article in The Times which begins:

Taxpayers face a multimillion-pound maintenance bill at the Olympic Park after organisers admitted that they had failed to find a commercial operator to take over the main venue after 2012.

Amid growing concerns of a repeat of the £1billion Millennium Dome fiasco, The Times has learnt that the Olympic stadium will cost at least £800,000 a year to keep open.

Projected revenues from athletics events and a proposed sports academy will leave a big funding shortfall at the venue, where building costs have already spiralled from £282 million to £547 million. There are fears that the final bill could be much higher.

The Times goes on to quote Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrats' Olympics spokesman:
“Ministers have presented a vague wish list of legacy proposals rather than concrete plans. The lack of detail raises the fear we'll still be left with another Millennium Dome.”
I fear he is right. Back in May 1997 I began a House Points column like this:

The Liberal Democrats should have come out against London bidding for the 2012 Olympics. It would have taken courage: in those days Tony Blair still had a little gloss left on him and we did not want to sound like killjoys. So at our Brighton Conference last year we trooped in to listen to Sebastian Coe and watched the Chariots of Ming video.

But it’s becoming clear that London 2012 is the Millennium Dome crossed with the NHS computer fiasco and the national identity card scheme with several more noughts after it and a cherry on top.

And that is the line I have consistently taken on the London Games, with the exception of a silly but prophetic posting at the time we were about to be awarded the games:

Why London must gain the Olympics

It's not because they will make us money. I fully expect the games to be a financial disaster and to cost us zillions.

It's not because they will improve transport in London. If things are wrong they need to be put right now because people are suffering, not because they may inconvenience the Polish women's water volleyball team one day.

It's not because they will galvanise the nation's youth. If watching sport on television made you active our youngsters would be the fittest in the world, rather than out of their skulls on Sunny D and Turkey Twizzlers.

No, the reason we must win the games is that we have to put one over on the French in general and Jacques Chirac in particular.

1 comment:

James Dowden said...

Please can we give the whole mess back?