Another fine mess


In an interview with Friday's Independent, John Armitage, the Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), said it was "possible that no private sector money would be found for the £1bn Olympic village" and that "the authority has already given up hope of securing funding for the £355m international media centre, which will now be paid for entirely by the Exchequer."

Wonderful. More taxpayers' money down the toilet. Let's not forget that the original budget for the games (with which London won the bid) was £2.4bn. It subsequently spiralled to more than £9bn when ministers realized they had forgotten about security and VAT, among other things. Now, officials are said to be working to a £12bn target. And yet it could still get much worse: when the developer Sir Stuart Lipton was offered the chairmanship of the ODA, he turned it down, saying the plans could not be delivered for less than £15bn. And that, of course, was before all the private sponsorship dried up.

I say they should stop throwing good money after bad. London already has more than enough sports facilities to handle the Olympics, without filling the East End with monuments to the government's vanity. As Simon Jenkins has written:

Athletics should go to the (itself vastly expensive) new Wembley stadium, designed by Foster and Partners to be adapted to the Olympics in an emergency... Football and hockey can go to existing London stadiums, of which there are at least 25. Riding can go to Hickstead, and save the trees at Greenwich. Shooting can go to Bisley (rather than spend £11m at Woolwich) and gymnastics, boxing and the rest to the Wembley Arena. The Dome and Excel are standing by...

The media can look after themselves, and the athletes can stay in hotels. Better still, the whole thing could go to Paris and save Londoners a lot of hassle – or is that too much to ask for?

Hat-tip to Spectator CoffeeHouse