More than seven months after Jowell announced the project would cost £9.3 billion, she admitted in the House of Commons on Monday that "line by line" analysis of what she called the "baseline budget" was a work in progress.Bearing in mind that the budget has already risen from £2.5 billion to £9.3 billion this is just taking the piss. Yet it misses the point, the real cost of the Olympic Games isn't merely the amount of taxpayers money the organisers pay out to get the facilities built but the economic ruination of a large part of London. The talk of regenerating London is nonsense for the simple reason that littering the landscape with large sporting facilities that will almost never be used to capacity ever again creates a black hole of economic activity. How many people will a Velodrome employ in years to come? A couple of dozen at most, but it will take up space that could be filled by productive businesses employing hundreds or even thousands of people.
I linked to the Telegraph's report of Jowell's admission but really they should bear some of the responsibility for this looming disaster too. They were by far the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the Games in the press and can in some ways take the credit for the London bid being launched in the first place. I even heard that they actually banned any of their journalists coming out against a games bid". This is from an article back in 2003:
The Daily Telegraph has unashamedly campaigned for London to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games for the last three months on the basis that it would be one of the best things to happen in sport for generations. Beyond sport, it would electrify the capital, its populace and the country as a whole.Even Tony Banks had a better idea of what was likely to happen than the Olympics propagandists at the Daily Telegraph whose predictive abilities make Paul Ehrlich look like Nostradamus! So it cannot be argued that the problems could not have been forseen. Is it too late to withdraw?
Increasingly isolated, the sceptics have droned on about cost and past failures. Nothing else.
Those failures, including the Dome, Picketts Lock and Wembley, are beyond dispute, but it is time we left them behind. In this context they are easily dealt with. No one - politician or serial sports administrator - who had anything to do with any of those fiascos should be allowed within a marathon distance of an Olympic bid.Cost - which has ranged between a possible profit according to the Arup report, and a deficit of £10 billion (Tony Banks!) - is a much more emotive subject, but the official report put the worst case scenario at less than £2 billion