Europe News

London Olympic Plan Criticized by Report

Roger Blitz, Financial Times

The London Olympics lacks a clear co-ordination plan to ensure the various bodies responsible for a successful 2012 Games know what each other are doing, according to a report published on February 25 by the government’s finance watchdog.

Sharon Lorimer

Bodies such as the Home Office, the Greater London Authority and the government’s specially created Olympic Executive department have separate Olympic-related tasks, such as transport, security, the running of London and public services.

They work alongside the London organizing committee (Locog) which puts on the Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority, responsible for constructing venues.

But in its report, the National Audit Office says integrating the work of these bodies is incomplete, raising uncertainty about their precise roles, their costs and budgets.

Planning the Games has been based on co-operation and consensus, the NAO says. “The Olympic Executive recognized, however, that as the Games approach and budgetary and delivery pressures increase, consensus could collapse.”

The co-ordination job of a host city was a major issue for Tessa Jowell, Olympics minister, during discussions with the Vancouver organizing committee during her visit to the Winter Olympics.

The department for culture, media and sport, which agreed the contents of the report with the NAO, said: “Over the last 12 months we have brought together the many delivery organizations to understand what we need to do and to explore in detail which organization is the right one to deliver each aspect of Games.”

The NAO said while organizers were on track to deliver the Games on time and within the forecast £9.3bn ($14.2bn) budget, there was the potential for a further call on the contingency fund, which is part of the budget.

It said: “Previous experience shows that financial pressures and risks are likely to occur right up to the Games.”

Other issues raised by the NAO include Locog’s ability to break even, and the long-term use of of major facilities, such as the Olympic stadium and the media centre.

Locog has a separate £2bn budget, and has secured £1.4bn of its income, including £600m from sponsorship. Two-thirds of the remainder will come from the sale of tickets from next year.