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Sadness at Jowell's departure but 2012 work goes on

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Adrian Warner | 17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

With the departure of Tessa Jowell as Olympics Minister, 2012 have now lost the two politicians who played the most important roles in bringing the Olympics to London.

In January 2003, Jowell sat down with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone for a crucial meeting in the Culture Secretary's offices just off Trafalgar Square. Sitting on Jowell's white sofas, they agreed a financial deal to cover the cost of the Games.

Without it, the bid would have been dead in the water. There was plenty of opposition in the Labour Cabinet to the Games and Jowell had to spend hours persuading her colleagues about the benefit of the Games.

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Livingstone, of course, has since been replaced by Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson. Jowell has now left government with Conservative Hugh Robertson being lined up for the job of Olympics Minister.

It is not unusual for Governments to change during the seven-year build-up to an Olympics. The International Olympic Committee won't be worrying today about the arrival of Britain's new coalition Government. They've seen it all before.

Neither are 2012. You can see here my interviews today with 2012 chairman Lord Coe and double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes about that. Coe doesn't believe the change of Government will have any impact on either the organisation of the Games or on the budget.

But he did pay tribute to Tessa Jowell for her role during both the bid and the last five years of preparation.

I think Jowell is still likely to be given some job in securing the legacy of the Games, maybe involving the Legacy Company itself. She is already involved in helping Rio benefit from London's experience as they prepare for the 2016 Olympics.

What is good for 2012 is that Hugh Robertson has been working very hard on the Olympic brief for more than five years now.

I have seen him building relationships with international Olympic officials and British sports officials at meetings across Britain and at major sporting events. He won't need much time to get going in the job.

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition will want to go through the £9.3 billion budget for the Games and make sure it hasn't got any holes.

The department, headed by Jeremy Hunt, will be called Department of Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport, highlighting the importance of the Games.

Robertson is expected to be a Minister within the department responsible for sport and olympics.

One thing is certain, the new Government won't be able to pledge more money for the Games, I'm told. That won't happen at a time of public spending cuts.

But when the opening ceremony takes place in July 2012 - and Boris Johnson and possibly Hugh Robertson take centre stage - people shouldn't forget what Jowell and Livingstone did.


  • Comment number 1.

    There's a reasonable possibility that Ken Livingstone may be re-elected in June 2012. And who knows, the coalition could fall apart with the liberals wedding labour instead....

  • Comment number 2.

    Didn't Boris already go through the budget when he became Mayor? I dont recall him finding anyting outlandish. He did suggest a couple of changes (more roof on the stadium) but pretty soon dropped these when he was told the cost.

    How much is the further review going to cost? These are already the 'functional' games with criticism already of the 'flat pack' stadium and other venues. what additional savings to they think they can find?

    One of the good things about the London games is that there has been very little political interference - LOCOG etc have been left to get on with it.

    When costs go through the roof is because too many people (i.e politicians) start interferring and making last minute changes - 'wouldnlt it be nice to have X, Y and Z' which cost a lot and are not strictly necessary but because they have to be done NOW due to the immovable deadline they have to throw workers etc at oit to get it done.

    This does not give LOCOG etc carte blanche to spend spend spend but I think they have been sensible.


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