London 2012: Hunt rejects 'austerity' Olympics

Jeremy Hunt The Games will be an "incredible expression" of Britain's culture and history, says Jeremy Hunt

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The culture secretary has rejected claims that the London 2012 Games should be an "austerity" Olympics.

Jeremy Hunt told the Daily Telegraph that rather than cutting its budget, the economic downturn meant the event's opportunities must be "harnessed".

Mr Hunt said voters would not forgive the government if it failed to make the most of the Games.

The government has provided £9.3bn for the Games - up from an estimate of £2.4bn at the time of the bid in 2005.

Mr Hunt said: "You can take two attitudes to the Olympics. You can say: these are times of austerity and therefore we should pare them down as much as possible.

'Positive impact'

"Or, you can say: because these are times of austerity we need to do everything we possibly can to harness the opportunity of the Olympics."

The minister said hosting the Olympics would have a "massively positive impact" on economic confidence.

London 2012 - Begin your journey here

London view

"We're going to be the centre of global attention and it will be the first time that we've had a major sporting event that's watched live by half the world's population.

"People would not forgive us if we didn't make the absolute most of this moment.

"This is going to be an incredible expression of Britain's culture, Britain's history and Britain's creativity.

"So, we decided that the sensible thing to do is to make sure that we finance it properly."

The government recently more than doubled the budget for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies - from £40m to £81m - after Prime Minister David Cameron saw the plans.

The extra money came from within the £9.3bn Olympic public funding package.

The venue security allocation has also risen by £271m to £553m after the estimated number of security guards required more than doubled from 10,000 to 23,700.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Why Hunt, is it OK to spend taxpayers' billions on this jamboree but not on other infrastructure projects like schools, clinics, transport, etc. At least they would have a real and lasting legacy for people all over the country - not just London and the South East.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    183. Broadwood Widger

    “Just remember that this is another legacy from the last government”.

    The Labour Government are history & not making the decisions on spending now.
    EG: Opening & closing ceremonies can be done on a tighter budget – will anybody even notice?
    Many local sports initiatives have had to be cut to help fund this ongoing political London show boat

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Not sure how i feel about the olympics , but a lot of money has been wasted and spent on it mostly i would think into consultants pockets same as usual then , and its not all the Tories fault ! isnt T Jowell a labour mp, wasnt it her who doubled the price tag after telling us it would be around 4 billion ? thought so , its here we have to make it work , but its a great waste of 9+ billions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    2 parts of The Olympics I would cut back on are the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In the present financial climate why do we have to waste so much money on glitz and fireworks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Of course not, these vainglorious and pointless games couldn't possibly reflect the current reality of life in the UK could they now? Especially not when those suffering the strictures of the coalition austerity measures are also required to pay for the games. I do detect the slightest hint of an element of double standards here. Oh well we'll get the chance to serve our revenge cold, eventually!

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    9.3 billion from 2.4 billion, good god, I remember everyone laughing at the time but that figure is astonishing. Where is all this money coming from? I'm afraid that amount spent to watch a load of people run and throw things is frankly ridiculous, you bet it should be pared down, be methinks the time for that has long since passed .

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    If the country is reeling under the economic strain then the olympic games will surely be affected in one way or another? Sport in general is now hugely over valued in relation to its benefits for mankind - health and well being come a long way behind commercialisation and sponsorship deals. And I daresay there will be some athletes who are disqualified for drugs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Wonderful image - sets me up for the weekend!

    Were the adjusted costs comparable? Somehow I doubt it but I might well be wrong. I accept that the games can't be cancelled but there can be little justification for layering in expense that could be avoided given the current state of finances. Innovative and original will showcase us but bloated/indulgent won't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.


    Austerity for Cancer patients - Yes, Austerity for Elderly Care- Yes, Austerity for the Olympics....err...No."

    Yep. Cancer patients, what do they need heating for, after all they are going to die anyway? Much better for our glorious leaders to have two week beano with the money instead. That's the message being sent out from on high.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Well i hope GB do well at our Olympics,but it would be nice if the Commentators actually remember that it is Team GB & NI and its not the commonwealth games.As for the money being spent at it,how many tickets were sold abroad,as nobody has any money in Little Britain to spend?

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    So many seem to buy into the London Olympics costing 9.3 billion...

    Really ....haha.....oh dear !!

    Its a fantasy....

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Biggest waste of money ever, but if you complain youare seen as some sort of misery!?! The building costs suddenly treble once signed off and the finished sites are sold off at a bargain price once the games are over. As to a huge uptake in sports? Get real, you may see a small blip, but that will drop off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    There needs greater redistributing funding from the Olympics to the rest of Britain. This will only lead to rewards for the London region and not GB as a whole. I'm sure part of the £9.3 billion could be better spent elsewhere in the economy. The UK voters will not forgive the government if the austerity measures do not produce positive affects in the next couple years never mind a sports event.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Austerity? Well it should be, but it's inevitable such events get overhyped - they are the only things that can still attract a sizeable TV audience & sell extra papers. Morecambe & Wise peak Xmas shows had 3 out of 5 Brits watching (back in the 4 channel days). I suspect that the London Olympics will peak at perhaps 1in 4 (usually less), yet will still be labelled a"national obsession". Odd.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Please get real.
    £9.3 billion is around £150 per head of our population. A ticket to watch synchronised archery is more than that and you couldn't get one anyway -sold out ages ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    I shall watch the track events, and very little else - definitely not the opening or closing ceremonies which have become nothing more or less than a showy spectacle of Strictly Come Dancing on a grand scale, as the host nation tries to outdo its predecessor.

    The true character of the Games was lost the moment the organizers outshone the competitors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Rich, 'elite' athletes get billions of pounds spent of them while the unfittest generation of children ever see their playing fields sold along with every other bit of urban green space the developers can get their hands on. I'd rather the money had been spent on skate parks and BMX tracks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    First off Hunt says the people would not forgive.... why not ask the people I'm sure most would rather see money spent on more vital services. Second, given that most of the people taking part in the opening/closing ceremonies are volunteers what is £80million being spent on??? Are some individuals getting paid enormous amounts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    First we had the Olympics, then HS2. It seems when we are out of cash the thing to do is to splash on expensive prestige projects under the guise of "regeneration". No doubt when the games are over the Government will sell off everything the public payed for at a knock down price like Northern Rock and the taxpayer will lose out yet again

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Austerity for Cancer patients - Yes, Austerity for Elderly Care- Yes, Austerity for the Olympics....err...No.
    Nice to see the the ConDems have their got priorities sorted out.
    The Government really aren’t taking this Austerity thing very seriously are they?
    Message for Hunt, we won't forgive you for continuing to waste our money showboating either, there are more worthy causes.


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