Thursday, 16 April 2009

Greenwich Park as a Procrustean Bed

If you were going to have a "garden makeover" - and you were spending your own money - you would not give your garden designer a plan of your garden that was drawn to the wrong scale, so that your garden looked twice as big as it was in reality.

You wouldn't - but the people who drew up the UK's Olympic bid did that with their plan of Greenwich Park and the UK taxpayers' money. It is unlikely thatGreenwich Park would have been considered the venue for equestrian events at all if they had got the measurements right in the first place. Yes, there is the "iconic backdrop" but Windsor has an iconic backdrop to top them all.

Section 8.6 of the Candidate File (containing the original Bid for the Games) includes maps of the venue plans for Greenwich Park: show jumping and dressage in Table 8.6.1 and cross country in Table 8.6.2. But you will not now find these tables on the London 2012 web site - dear me, no - for, although the Candidate File is still viewable in the London 2012 web site, those tables have been removed.

Table 8.6.2 , which shows the Park itself, is not depicted to the scale shown on the plan of 2cm to 300m. The scale used is in fact 2cm to 200m. On the basis of this inaccurate scale, the Park is measured at 1425m x 1150m, to be compared with actual dimensions of 950m x 775m. Using the inaccurate linear measurements results in more than doubling of the area of the Park from 76 hectares to 164 hectares.

This explains why LOCOG are having so much trouble fitting in the Olympic course. You have to wonder: if the cross-country event is forced to run in Greenwich Park, after the course has had to be shortened in order to squash it into the Park, will the winners really be "Olympians"? From the outset, NOGOE have been saying that the Park is too small but LOCOG won’t admit this. The British Equestrian Foundation are said to be looking for a scapegoat, er, we mean the individual who signed off the plans. RM

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