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I've been determined to investigate 2012's efforts to stop people talking about the details of the Olympic project since I was told last year that new staff at London 2012 were required to sign confidentiality agreements.

I wondered why a project with so much public money going into it - £9.3bn - needed to be so secretive.

Now I have learned that companies building the facilities in east London are being forced to sign draconian gagging orders to keep quiet about the details of the project.

Continue reading "London confidential"

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It doesn't make me very popular with London 2012 organisers but I'm not a great fan of Olympic anniversaries - 1,000 days to go to the Games and all that.

They are great for people who collect Olympic badges - and, believe it or not, Beijing produced loads of pins with various "days to go" and the same Chinese company is doing the badges for London - but they mean little to the rest of us.

But there IS a significant Olympic anniversary on 16 January. It's going to be the halfway point between London winning the bid in July 2005 and the opening ceremony - three-and-a-half years gone and three-and-a-half to go.

Continue reading "London 2012 cuts its cloth"

I've been in the Swiss town they call the Olympic capital this week talking to the movers and shakers of international sport.

The conversations in Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee is based, soon got around to the impact of the global financial crisis on sport and the government and London 2012 faced criticism.

Jizhong Wei, the new head of the International Volleyball Federation, told me he was disappointed with last week's decision by UK Sport to cut funding to eight of Britain's lower-profile sports including his.

Continue reading "Should sport always sell to the highest bidder?"

The day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics in Singapore in July 2005, I was asked to research and write a book about the dramatic story of Britain's bid.

With my friend and colleague David Bond, the sports editor of the Daily Telegraph, I spoke to a series of key people involved in the campaign before we put the book together with London 2012's former communications chief Mike Lee.

I was, therefore, not surprised when Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell suggested this week that London might not have bid for the Games, had people known that a recession was on the way, though she now says her comments were misconstrued.

Continue reading "Jowell's comments come as no surprise"

Olympic experts regularly tell me that London's traffic problems are the biggest challenge to organisers of the 2012 Games.

And it's because of them that London 2012's plans to move badminton to Wembley's indoor Arena in order to save money are likely to face some opposition from the international governing body of the sport.

I've been speaking to the Badminton World Federation where officials are worried about the journey from the athletes' village in east London's Stratford to the arena which is next to the main Wembley Stadium.

Continue reading "To compete, not commute"


I was out on a boat the other day around the waterways surrounding the Olympic Park. It's a great trip and a very interesting way to see all the progress on the 2012 site.

Not everybody is aware of the miles of water in this part of London. After years of being neglected, these rivers are finally being upgraded.

I hope, by 2011, it will be possible for boats to take the public on tours of the Olympic Park when many of the venues will be completed. While security may stop boats coming right into the Park during the Games, it should be possible to get up to the 02 (formerly the Dome) at Greenwich where the gymnastics and basketball finals will be held.

When the Games are over, 2012 organisers promise to turn this Park into magnificent gardens and waterfronts - a Hyde Park for east London, they say. There are plans for special Olympic gardens with plants from all over the world.

I have no doubt that this could happen if enough funds are provided by the London Mayor after 2012. The environment for thousands of Stratford residents will be changed because of it.

But people in the construction business are telling me that London 2012's hopes of being the "Greenest Games ever" are going to come under intense pressure in the next year because of the economic crisis.

Continue reading "Economy threatens London's green ambitions"

I lived and worked in Germany as a foreign correspondent for nearly 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s and I was always amazed at the sports facilities in the country.

Every small town I visited seemed to have an athletics track, large swimming pool or a multi-sports complex and Germany's facilities for elite sport regularly attracted world championships to the country. Whenever I returned to Britain, especially during holidays in London, I thought our facilities were second class, sometimes third class, in comparison.

I still believe that is the case in London.

Continue reading "Europe threatens to spoil London party"

Olympic chiefs discussed how the 2012 Games are going to survive the current financial crisis at a key meeting on Wednesday.

The £9.3 billion budget to build the facilities is under intense pressure because of the credit crunch and an Olympic board meeting concentrated on how money can be saved.

Continue reading "Which sports are on the move for London 2012?"

Finding Olympic sponsors has become tougher in today's economic climate but London 2012 may get crucial help in the next few months from the International Olympic Committee.

I understand that the IOC is looking at striking a global deal with an automobile supplier. This would mean London 2012 would not need to sign its own agreement with a car and bus manufacturer, which is likely to be hard in the middle of a recession.

Continue reading "Sponsors sweet on London"

When the Olympic victory parade took place in central London on Thursday, I rushed away from it and headed to the east of the capital where the Games will be staged.

With the greatest respect to Britain's successful Olympians and Paralympians, and to the rest of the country, my belief is that it is among the people of Newham where we will find out if the 2012 Olympics have been worth it or not.

The east London borough is the Olympic benchmark. This is one of the poorest parts of the country which has suffered with high unemployment for years.

It also has the notoriety of having residents who are bottom of the London's league in terms of sports participation - and second bottom in the whole of England.

Continue reading "Use this 2012 enthusiasm"

Wembley is poised to play a much bigger role in the organisation of the 2012 Olympics than originally planned.

BBC London has learned that London 2012 officials have been looking for some time at scrapping their original plans to build a temporary arena near to the 02 to stage badminton and rhythmic gymnastics.

There had been proposals to move the two sports to ExCel indoor arena, which is already staging a variety of 2012 events, but there is not enough space.

Now officials are seriously looking at taking badminton back to the Wembley Arena, a spiritual home for the sport. The prestigious All-England championships were staged at the arena - which is right next to the outdoor stadium - between 1957 and 1993.

Continue reading "Badminton could move to Wembley for 2012"

It was only a matter of time before we started to see real evidence of the credit crisis hitting the Olympics. Now we've got it.

The media and broadcast centre, usually a complex so huge that many of the 20,000 journalists who work there get lost on a regular basis, was supposed to become a centre for the creative arts in Hackney after 2012. There was even talk of Bollywood making its London base there.

But Hackney mayor Jules Pipe fears that 80% of the 1.3m sq ft complex will have to be scrapped after the Games because of cashflow problems.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to raise private cash for the £400m project.

Continue reading "Credit crisis could mean flat-pack Olympics"

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