Fears of Olympic overspend subside
Just before Christmas there were genuine concerns starting to emerge that the Government wouldn't be able to deliver on its promise to stick within the London Olympics £9.325bn budget.
First we had the announcement that an extra £271m was required to boost security in and around the Olympic venues.
Then there was the decision to splash an additional £41m on the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies, doubling the cost.
And finally there was the National Audit Office's unseasonally gloomy forecast that organisers would spend all but £36m of the remaining £500m contingency.
The Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London is quickly taking shape. Picture: Getty images.
It was the first time since the 2008 financial crash forced organisers to bail out the athletes village, that the project found itself on the back foot on the budget.
But suddenly the cost of the Games was back on the agenda lending credibility to all those naysayers who predicted from the outset that London 2012 would never come in on budget. With public sector cuts starting to bite, unemployment on the rise and the economic outlook so worrying, ministers knew this was not the time to be tackling headlines on rising Olympic costs.
But in the last week or so there appears to have been another shift in mood. Sources inside government have told me that the recent budget concerns are subsiding.
In fact it's my understanding that the Government will announce in a couple of weeks that £500m of contingency remains in place with around 97 or 98% of the project complete. Over the three months to the end of January there has been hardly any significant draw-down on the contingency pot leaving officials feeling increasingly confident that they are entering the home straight on costs.
Of course all that will be thrown up into the air if there is a major security scare or if another serious unforseen problem emerges. In that situation the Government will have to hope the public understand that there is no alternative but to plough more of our cash into the Olympics.
But if everything does now stay on track it raises the question of what happens to any money left over.
As I understand it the Olympic contingency sits in the Treasury and is only drawn down as required. This means any money left over will just be absorbed back into the Treasury's coffers and - given the current climate of cuts to public spending - reallocated to other areas of the public sector.
However, is there an argument to be made here for sport? Sport has done well out of the recent reorganisation of the lottery guaranteeing potential real terms increases in funding when other areas are suffering cuts.
But what if some of the money was used to deliver on those promises to increase participation off the back of the Olympics? In the long run that would potentially lead to us all being healthier and so reduce the burden on the NHS. Isn't that the sort of legacy vision we all bought into as a proper return from the £9.3bn of public money?
In reality that is a debate sport has little chance of winning. And most will just be relieved if the Government does now deliver on its promise to deliver the 2012 Games on budget.