SBD/March 29, 2012/Olympics

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  • U.K.'s Cameron Promising Successful Olympics Despite Questions On Security, Legacy

    British prime minister says security will not dominate London Games atmosphere

    U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has “promised that a massive security operation and questions over the legacy benefits of staging the Olympics will not prevent London delivering the ‘greatest show on earth’ this summer,” according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Cameron defended the $14.8B (all figures U.S.) cost of the Games and said that “security would not be over-bearing, and insisted that London 2012 would deliver a tangible sports legacy.” Cameron acknowledged that “in security, transport and legacy London has major challenges if it is to deliver a successful Games, and make good on the promises it made its bid.” He said that the security operation “would be the biggest ever undertaken in peacetime, but that despite a budget in excess of [$1.6B] it would not dominate the Games atmosphere.” In addition, Cameron “defended the Government’s plans to secure a legacy of sports participation from the Games, insisting that the intangible inspiration of seeing great performance in London would help change behaviour.” IOC President Jacques Rogge, who is in London for a three-day inspection tour, said that he “was delighted with preparations.” IOC inspectors will spend the next two days “receiving updates on London’s plans in their final inspection visit before the Games” (London TELEGRAPH, 3/29).

    AT THE GATE: In London, Jacquelin Magnay noted Rogge has stressed that Olympic ticketing details “would be released soon" and defended LOCOG as a "transparent organisation.” Rogge yesterday said that LOCOG “would release information about the supply of Olympic tickets once all of the venue seating had been finalised.” He said that the delay in providing the information “was for ‘very good reasons’ especially as the football draw had not yet been released.” LOCOG thus far has “refused to release how many tickets have been on sale in the UK or provide a breakdown by session and price, despite attempts by the London Assembly to extract such information” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 3/28).

    PUBLIC PERSUASION: A survey for the London INDEPENDENT found that more than half of the U.K. public "thinks the London Olympics will not be worth the taxpayers' money that has been spent on them." The poll conducted by ComRes found that 51% of people disagree with the statement that the Games will be worth the $14.8B public cost, 40% agree and 9% replied "don't know." In the 18-24 age group, 58% think the Games "will be worth the money," compared with 32% in the age 35-44 group. ComRes interviewed 1,000 adults by phone from March 23-26. In London, Andrew Grice notes the findings suggest the bill for taxpayers “could become a headache for the Government.” Cameron yesterday “dismissed suggestions that the money would be better spent on social projects for young people, to prevent a repeat of last summer's riots.” Cameron said, “I am proud of the fact that we are coming in on time and on budget." He added, "The Olympics will revitalise local sport in Britain for generations to come." He said on the use of Olympic venues after the Games, "I think it is time to tear up any notion of the Olympics leaving behind white elephants." Rogge said, "London has raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy. We can already see tangible results in the remarkable regeneration of east London. This great, historical city has created a legacy blueprint for future Games hosts" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/29).

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