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.

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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 217.

    The OG is the world’s No.1 sporting event, and very few people get to experience them first hand. As such, we are privileged to have that opportunity ourselves. 9.3Bn is a vast sum, but this was allocated over a 6 yr period and merely equates to what govt spends every 5 days. Rather than moan about the cost, we should embrace the opportunity and welcome the world back to the home of sport

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    The country is skint. The people are having their standard of living lowered. So why are we spending a fortune in public money on the Olympic Games ? I think a lot of people are going to get rich on this, but it won't be the general population.

  • 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 48.

    The Olympics is a terrible waste of money to the UK tax payer, and we have to ask ourselves will we make a profit out of this in the long term?

    The other part of it is – we simply haven’t got the public transport to cope. London is packed as it is, people crammed together like sardines on the underground, long delays at customs, motorways full.

    Stop spending Cameron and Hunt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Its too late to try to balance the books now. Its high time though that the costs and the benefits and in particualr how they have been distributed across the country are calculated independently. For instance, it looks like the benefits have mostly gone to firms in the S East and the negative impact on business, transport and tourism seems likely to be massive. Is it really a net benefit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Once again this government play with the public's money at a time where families are finding it very tough indeed, with the possible exception of London no one apart from the organisors and consultants who will make a fortune are going to benefit from the Olympics the 9.3 billion could have done wonders for the NHS instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Although far from agreeing to this governments austerity measures I happen to agree with the increase in the budget for the opening & closing ceremonies. I can forsee that the Olympics will bring in a lot of welcome revenue for our coffers and if we put on a good show it will boost our trade for the export market, so let's not be so pessimistic please
    Alun Urch

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I suppose that the cost of the opening ceremony is a drop in the ocean but we do seem to have missed a trick in not "using London" - its iconic sights - for the opening parade. Maybe security is the reason for that. But that does raise the question of the huge underestimation of the cost of security. The world situation hasn't changed much since the bid so there is no real excuse for that.


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