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Read all about it: 2012 is a good news story

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Gordon Farquhar | 20:04 UK time, Thursday, 23 April 2009

"It's all going very well" doesn't make a great headline, unless it's ironic, which in the case of the London Olympic preparations it isn't, so I'm going to have to find another one...

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) co-ordination commission has been in town for the latest of their six-monthly visits, and in its own estimation is "deeply impressed," so how about Veni, Vidi, er... what's the Latin for, "went away"?

The IOC's inspectors don't like to be called inspectors. Partners is the preferred description. It implies shared responsibility, which of course in staging the Olympic Games, it has to be. It's too big a project to manage without a guiding hand.


So far in London, that's been sheathed in a velvet glove, but the IOC has been happy to wave the iron fist in the past and remind an organising committee who the senior partner is: it's their games, London are the hosts, and it's all chugging along nicely.

It must be a blessed relief to the IOC to have a relatively straightforward games to manage for a change, where the principal squabbles are over details like where the boxing venue should be, and does the suggestion of taking it to Wembley mean athletes will have too far to travel? If that's the worst London can chuck at them, they'll be singing, "easy, easy!" from the back of the tour coach.

Beijing proved to be, in the end, a great games for the IOC, but its delivery was fraught with delicate political negotiations, challenges over human rights issues, and the necessity of getting used to the complex and bureaucratic Chinese way of doing things.

Athens of course, was ulcer-inducing. The IOC's coordination commission chairman Denis Oswald speaks from experience when he remarks that at least in London, "we know we will have a stadium." At times that was a serious question in the Greek capital, where the organisers were put on, "amber warning," by former IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch. No such embarrassments for the London 2012 Organising Committe (LOCOG), just the warm glow that comes from fulsome praise.

I was struck by one remark from Oswald at the closing media conference. He said LOCOG and the games were not affected by the current financial crisis. That does seem to be true, and it's extraordinary. LOCOG's flat out chase for sponsors from the outset now looks not only prescient, but brilliant, perhaps a little fortunate, but I doubt that chief executive Paul Deighton believes in luck too strongly.

To be £500m pounds to the good before the world's markets got credit crunched has been vital in shoring-up confidence, and the rate of progress on the Olympic Park, pressing on, hitting targets, suggests the Olympic Delivery Authority is living up to the much coined phrase, "not a day to waste".

When pressed privately, Gilbert Felli, the IOC's shrewd executive director told me they had no need to issue anything even vaguely amounting to a gentle reminder to speed up the rate of progress. However he did say there were some significant deadlines in the coming months, particularly in respect of completing buildings and venues in time for them to be properly tested ahead of the games.

Even so I didn't detect a bead of sweat on his Swiss brow, or any fear behind the smile. At this stage, the London Olympics is no Wembley Stadium, no Millennium Dome. It may have its detractors, but those who know say it's on time and on budget, and we might just have to get used to that fact.


  • Comment number 1.

    Lets be honest, after Darling's speech today and all the billions of debt the UK is now in, the Olympics will be extremely lucky to get another penny. The government has to cut back all over the place now and no doubt it will, rightly, not put Olympic funding before the police, local authorities or NHS.

  • Comment number 2.

    Who says that 'we're really doing rather well' doesn't make a good story?

    The readers, or the media moguls?

    And what are the levels of depression in this country?

    And what is the correlation with scaremongering, outrage, despair and helplessness in the media vs happy stories of success, Brits doing something 'rather well' etc etc etc.

    You lot need to think deeply about this and start to work out how you can contribute to societal well-being rather than bringing it to the depths of hopelessness and depression........

  • Comment number 3.

    'You lot need to think deeply about this and start to work out how you can contribute to societal well-being rather than bringing it to the depths of hopelessness and depression........'

    Well it is a good story... but the media don't make up the government budget and it was horrendous.

  • Comment number 4.

    Seeing as we've bailed out the banks in the multiples of 10s of Billions, I think under 10 Billion GBP is perfectly acceptable to regenerate a part of London and put on the greatest show on earth.

    People who complain about the London Games are the ones who should complain about the Banks first.

  • Comment number 5.

    Out of interest, the Millennium Dome was in fact built on time and to budget. And it has proved to have a fantastic legacy for London (including for the Olympics). The problem with it was the Government getting it's greasy hands on the content which meant that no one wanted to visit; something it can't thankfully do with the Olympics....

  • Comment number 6.

    Lets just hope that the organisers dont try to profiteer with ticket prices and rediculous charges for refreshements and facilities on site. The best way surely has to be to grant reasonable access to all, and make the place an ejoyable way to spend an entire day.


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