Friday, 21 November 2008

Questions for LOCOG - I

When the UK was preparing its bid to host the 2012 Olympics,

  1. Did anyone walk the proposed cross-country course in Greenwich Park with a measuring wheel at bid stage - or was it just a paper exercise?

  2. Why did the site plans for Greenwich Park never meet the minimum spec of the FEI?

  3. Why does LOCOG think that the FEI would waive the minimum specification for Greenwich when all the other venues - Sydney, Athens and Hong Kong - had had to fulfil the specification?

  4. At the LOCOG exhibition in the Greenwich Park Pavilion Tearooms today, in answer to a question from a visitor about how many spectators would be allowed into the Park to watch the cross-country event, a LOCOG representative answered that "numbers will be severely restricted".

  5. what do they mean by "severely restricted" cross-country crowd? 20,000? 15,000? 10,000?

Again, at the Pavilion Tearooms today, Derrick Spurr (Parks Manager, soon to be elevated to "Olympics liaison") demonstrated a depressing ignorance of gravity, velocity and f=ma physics by claiming that a (human) jogger impacts the ground more than a horse weighing a third of a ton (say, 333kg), wearing Olympic studs on its shoes, travelling at 20 miles an hour and carrying a rider.

Special question for O-level Physics students: what is the force with which a 333kg horse lands after jumping a 1.5m fence? You should illustrate your working with a drawing of the displaced ground and grass.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

LOCOG presentation to the Mayor economical with the actualité - and KPMG making it up as they go along

Andrew Gilligan writes - Evening Standard, 17 November 2008 Don't be fooled by this 2012 whitewash, Boris - of how the Mayor, Boris Johnson, has been misled into backing controversial plans to hold Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park, both by the KPMG report and by LOCOG and the course designer (presumably, this is still Sue Benson).

Read more here, KPMG’s Intellectually Suspect Olympic Site Review, 18 November 2008.

"... from the summary of the conclusions in that leaked email, the justification is so tortuous, the liberties taken with the truth so great, as to render this report one of the more intellectually suspect pieces of work I’ve seen (and I did read the Hutton Inquiry.) ... It shows the true case for Greenwich is so weak that they can only make it by making it up. If Locog expect this report to settle any arguments, they will, I fear, be disappointed."

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Latest from the Ministry for Statements of the Bleeding Obvious

Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell, addressing a dinner for "leisure industry bosses", said that the Government would not have bid to host the Olympics in 2012 if it had anticipated the scale of the current economic downturn. Well, duh, whoduvthunkit.

However, the Minister is comforted by the the thought that the work generated by the Olympics is "creating jobs for thousands" - apparently unaware that most of the thousands on the main Olympics site are migrants so the "skills legacy" promised by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) will disappear from the UK as soon as the migrant workers go home to Poland or other European countries.

Way to go, Tessa. So when there was no recession in sight, we bid £2.4 billion. Now that we are entering a recession, and it's all going to cost £9.3 billion plus, cannot even the dimmest lightbulb in the Government see a reason for using existing equestrian facilities for 2012 instead of trashing Greenwich Park?

Update: Now we're all neo-Keynesians, of course, there's less chance than ever that the Government will see sense. The Games are supposed to regenerate east London and bring 3,000 jobs to the Olympic site in Stratford, which works out at a mere £2m per job. Independent, 16 November 2008

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

When is a corporate sponsor not a sponsor?

At the time of writing, there are 7 "tier one sponsors" for the 2012 Olympics: Adidas, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF Energy, Lloyds TSB and Nortel.

Your starter question for six: what is wrong with this?

  • Lloyds TSB is sponsoring the London Olympics for £80 million.

  • Lloyds TSB received £5.5 billion of last month's bail-out of the banks funded with taxpayers' money.

From where I am standing, that looks as if the London Olympics are to be funded by

  1. the National Lottery (our money, after tax),

  2. an additional levy, the Olympic Council Tax "precept" of £20 per annum per Band D household in all London boroughs (our money, after tax),

  3. some real corporate sponsorship but not nearly enough, and

  4. part of the bank bailout (revenues from our taxed income).

The newspapers reported last month that LOCOG is two-thirds of the way to fulfilling its targets for between £600m and £700m of sponsorship income. But, hey, no worries: LOCOG is underwritten by the Government - er, with our taxes.

NB: The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, Section 34, empowers the Greater London Authority to raise whatever money it wants for the London Olympics. If it turns out that £20 per annum per Band D household in London will not be enough to meet the ballooning costs of the Games, or if the Government decides to spread the load - to, say, the Council Tax payers of Hertfordshire and Essex - it can do so without introducing further legislation.

Monday, 10 November 2008

To begin at the beginning

To everyone's surprise, on 6 July 2005 when the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision was announced, London found it had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

It seems that we won because, although the 2004 Olympics in Athens cost nearly £9 billion, the British Government claimed that we could stage the Games in 2012 for a fraction of that, ie for a bargain-basement price of £2.4 billion. (The cost benefit analysis commissioned of Arup by the Government in 2002 which predicted that the cost of the Games would be even less - a mere £1.8 billion - has never been made public, despite Freedom of Information requests. The executive summary of that report does not mention Greenwich at all.) Perhaps Cheapskate Britannia's bid had been a bluff, intended to "position" the UK well in the bid for the 2016 Games but not to win the competition to host the 2012 Games; if so, then the IOC called the bluff.

This summer, only three years after we won the bid, and with four years to go, the budget for staging the Olympics is now £9.3 billion (more than Athens 2004), and a report by the National Audit Office (June 2008) has warned of significant cost over-run. There is still no fully costed plan, and the costs of security while constructing the venues, staging the event and transport have yet to be worked out.

As to the costs and benefits of making Greenwich Park a venue for the Olympic equestrian events, we do now know, from a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), that Greenwich Park was not selected on a cost-benefit analysis with alternative venues but on "a range of factors that LOCOG considered". These were: the "stunning backdrop" and the Park's location "close to the Olympic Park and Village".

Joke Olympic bid blows up in UK Government's face
  • 2002: Arup estimate - £1.8bn
  • 2004: Cost of Games at Athens - nearly £9bn
  • 2005: UK's winning bid for 2012 - £2.4bn
  • 2008: Current cost - £9.3bn, and counting