- 15 Oct 08, 10:59 AM
Locog - the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games - is being a bit coy about confirming the story that Cadburys are to become another of its tier-two sponsors.
Sorry, no puns here about sweeteners or flake-y deals, but in this current cascade of bad news about cash and confidence, it is good to know that Locog isn't running short of either.
It is perhaps wise at this point to make it clear that Locog is a very different animal to the ODA or Olympic Delivery Authority. Locog is the organisation tasked with staging the Games. The ODA is the organisation responsible for delivering the permanent infrastructure and venues.
Anyway, Locog has more than £400m guaranteed now from eight sponsors, seven of them in its tier-one category, where entry to the club starts at £40m. Lloyds TSB, of course, were first in the door with the cash, back in the good old days when they weren't 40% owned by you and me, the taxpayer.
How prescient it was of Paul Deighton, Locog's chief executive, to start the fundraising early. By Beijing, two thirds of its target amount had been pledged - well, better than pledged, tied up in contractual deals - and I'm told categorically that no sponsor is attempting to wriggle out of its commitments, even if they could. The phone's still ringing at Canary Wharf, buoyed by Team GB's Beijing performance and the halo effect of the Olympic rings.
The International Olympic Committee contribute about half of the £2bn or so that Locog needs, which is pretty much guaranteed from the marketing of TV rights. So at this point, Locog's confidence doesn't seem misplaced. It doesn't want to look smug, however, and is determined to strike the right tone.
It knows times have changed and that if Beijing marked the high point of spectacular excess in Olympic ceremonials, then expectations will now surely be that London must let off fewer fireworks. Austerity might be the new ostentatious, but there won't be any cutbacks when it comes to creating a feeling of national inclusivity during the opening of the London Games. The ceremony won't be restricted to just the stadium - it will reach out far and wide.
Locog says its plans are 'scalable', which is another way of saying the cloth will be cut according to the means. No-one thinks that raising the next £200m will be easy, but, unlike the neighbouring big banks, there's no sense of panic along the corridors at Locog's headquarters in Canary Wharf.
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