UK treasury on the hook for Olympic excess?

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe Correspondent

The debate over whether London will be ready in time to host the 2012 Olympics has heated up again with the publication today of a report saying that the UK Treasury should help with any rises in the cost of the Games.

The report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is made up of members of Parliament from the main political parties, comes a day after an optimistic announcement by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), which is overseeing the preparations, to mark the 2012th day before the start of the Games. This included a pledge to make the event “the greenest ever.”

Despite this bullishness fears were voiced soon after London succeeded in its bid that the project was already going over budget. The Committee expressed its “disappointment” that cost estimates had been found to be so “faulty” so quickly, adding, “We are concerned that costs have arisen which should have been identified at the time of the preparation of the bid.”

Among suggestions for coping with the rising costs are that the Treasury should consider amending the tax regime pertaining to the National Lottery, so that money from that source that would otherwise be paid as tax could be used to fund the Games. The Committee also asks whether more might be contributed by the London Development Agency, which it says will make “substantial financial gains” on the re-sale of land when the Games are over.

While the report states that no private funding is expected to go towards the building of venues for the Games, it does envisage a mixture of private and public money funding the construction of the International Broadcast Centre and the main press centre.

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