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SBD Global/July 27, 2012/Olympics

Former PM Tony Blair Says Despite The Cost, Games Are Good For London

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday “defended his decision to deliver the games to London,” maintaining that the event “will be value for money as austerity hits other public projects,” according to Rob Harris of the AP. Blair helped deliver the Olympics, landing England a project with a $14.4B bill “taxpayers had to foot.” Blair said, “Even though it's a lot of money, £9B ($14B), we have regenerated a whole part of the East End of London.” He added, “If you were to pose the question to (fellow bidders) Paris or Madrid or New York ... 'Would you prefer to be putting on the Olympics right now?' I'm sure they would say 'Yes.'” Blair described the games as “an opportunity to showcase modern Britain, modern London” to the world. He said, “The important thing for us … is to use the Olympics to build a legacy in the country” (AP, 7/25). Current PM David Cameron said, “This is a great moment for us. Let’s seize it.” He called the eve of the Games “a truly momentous day for our country” (BBC News, 7/26). In a special to the LONDON TIMES, U.K.-based economist Kevin Daly wrote the management and cost-effectiveness of the Games preparation “has been a success.” There will be “a lasting impact on the local community in Stratford from regenerating a run-down part of East London.” For the next three weeks, U.K. Trade & Investment is “opening its doors to the world’s business leaders, capitalizing on their presence at the Games.” In previous Olympics, where the preparations “have gone well and costs have been controlled, there has been a lasting positive economic legacy.” The government’s projection that the $13.3B investment will yield $20.4B is “likely to be an underestimate” (LONDON TIMES, 7/26).

ROMNEY MEETING: In London, Prince & Kirkup wrote U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney had an hour-long meeting with Cameron and said: “I expect the Games to be highly successful." The men seemed "to have got on well during their talks," despite Cameron's remark earlier about Romney’s concerns about the capital’s preparedness for the Games. Cameron pointed out the London Games were taking place in a busy city rather than “the middle of nowhere” – widely seen as a reference to the '02 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, which Romney organized. Earlier, speaking in front of the main Olympic stadium, Cameron said: “You’re going to see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver. This is a time of some economic difficulty for the U.K. but look at what we are capable of achieving as nation even at a difficult economic time. This is not a London Games, this is not an England Games, this a United Kingdom Games" (TELEGRAPH, 7/26).
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