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London 2012

BOA constrictor Coe

Revenge is a dish best served cold and companion of dishonour Coe is enjoying his repast. His arrival at the BOA has ‘coincided’ with the departures of Chairman Colin Moynihan, who left a year early, the former commercial director, Hugh Chambers, and the director of sport, Sir Clive Woodward, who noted the organisation was taking a ‘new direction’.


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2012 - a year of challenges or opportunities?

Apparently theatre in London had a bad Olympics, although this was buried under a headline of theatre 'holding up in Olympic year' and some good news about a rise in ticket sales for the year as a whole. At the end of January, AP reported the Society of London Theatre as saying that sales and attendance had dropped during the summer Games, described as a 'dampening effect', but this was played down as, it was claimed, it had not been as bad as some had feared. However, no specific information was provided to show how bad it really was during the Olympics.


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Who's Dieter kidding?

Professor in Economics at Oxford and advisor to the European Commission Dieter Helm has added his voice to the Armitt/Labour argument that infrastructure projects should follow the ‘ODA/Olympics’model. Writing in the Financial Times on 1st February 2013 he said:

Delivering infrastructure at scale, on time and on budget is not rocket science. The Olympics showed the way to do it: there was a hard deadline, few losers and government money. What is needed is a set of clear system plans, planning procedures that compensate losers, and brutal honesty about what it is going to cost and who is going to pay. We must stop fretting about government accounting rules and tinkering with project lists and get on with it. Otherwise we will be left on the international sidelines.


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Deighton got 'inpirational' bonuses of £1.4m

@MatthewBeard reports 'Lord deighton got total bonuses over six years of £1.4m, includes max windfall of £700k for "inspiring a generation". coe salary £535k' - of course he didn't inspire a generation, sport participation in the target generation of 16 to 25 year olds went down.


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A Lottery of a Legacy!

So what exactly is an Olympic sports legacy? The Government seems to think it is more spectacles of elite sport. George Osborne has decided to waive tax rules to allow Usain Bolt and other top athletes to attend the Grand Prix event to be held at the Olympic Stadium in the summer. He says this is to ‘secure the Olympic Legacy’. Bolt hasn’t yet said he will come. Boris, son of John, has also weighed in with a spectacle of his own, a two day cycling festival to be attended by up to 70,000 including elite cyclists like Wiggo and Trott. Spiffing away Boris said: ‘"Following the superhuman efforts of our Team GB cyclists last year, thousands of cycling enthusiasts, both experienced and amateur, riding a fantastic route through the streets of our fine city is surely a fitting legacy’.

Elsewhere local media are now regularly reporting so-called ‘Olympic Legacy grants’ being made to clubs around the country. Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club, for example, has been given £50,000 to ‘revamp facilities’. Warlingham Squash and Racketball Club in Surrey has also got £50,000 to make improvements like putting in a boiler and building women’s changing rooms. Several clubs in Northamptonshire are to share £500,000 to do up their facilities. These grants are described as ‘Olympic legacies’. However, it is hard to see what is specifically Olympic about the grants. They are just National Lottery funds which are being distributed by Sport England from a pot of £16.6million from something called the Inspired Facilities Fund.

A couple of sports festivals and a £16.6million fund are not going to make much impression on the present furore surrounding the decline in school sports funding. Far from inspiring a generation London 2012 saw sport participation in the target group of 16 to 25year olds fall.

Nor does it make up for the £2.175billion taken from the National Lottery for the Olympics. This raid on the Lottery included the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds taken from children’s sport in the name of elite sport. Nor has the DCMS repaid the Big Lottery Fund from which it grabbed £638.098million. After over a year of lobbying and a campaign now supported by more than 3,200 charities demanding the return of £425million of the stolen funds it has indicated it may repay £100 to £150million, but not until 2014 at the earliest. Jowell originally promised to repay all the Big Lottery Fund money. The DCMS also say in an attached Freedom of Information response: 'Repayments will not include interest based on inflation'. Most of that is probably lost for good. The rest, of course, will not be repaid at all.

A full rundown of the money taken from the Lottery, which could have been spent on other, better causes was provided in the DCMS Freedom of Information response:

'a total of £2.175 billion of Lottery funding is included in the £9.298bn public sector funding provision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games…


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A legacy of 'no clemency, no kindness'

It's just another very small, very local Olympics legacy story about an Olympic bridge, a second Olympic bridge, across the Hackney Cut canal. The other, the first bridge crossed the canal from the Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney Wick and was used by school children to get to their playing fields at Arena Fields on the east side of the canal. That is it was until the ODA built over the playing fields and demolished the bridge. The plan was to build a new bridge which would rob residents of Wick Village, already suffering from the loss of the green space opposite their estate and the monstrous Media Centre erected in its place, of their canalside open space. That argument continues.

A little further south another Olympic bridge, the second bridge, impinges on another local community, the Eton Mission Rowing Club. The Club had already lost land to the Olympic Compulsory Purchase Order, for the construction of the bridge to allow access to the Olympic Park, making it harder to carry on its activities. Now the LLDC plans to make life even more difficult with plans to construct a lift next to the bridge, taking even more land belonging to the Club.

The Rowing Club has suffered rowing blight since 2005 with new rowers reluctant to join as a result of the uncertainty created by the threat of compulsory purchase and the loss of space to carry on its activities. Now, after one hundred and twenty-eight years of existence Eye on the Park recently reported the Club is warning it faces extinction at the present site if these latest plans are adopted.

"If they shorten the space we have to work in even more," Club secretary Tim Hinchliff said, "we’d be a club that couldn’t store and maintain an eight, and take it to regattas. Well that’s not a rowing club is it? They either have to change what they are doing with that bridge, or they have to move us somewhere else."


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Death and the Olympic City

There are many tales of the Olympic City, lies, dreams of wealth, and profligate living! And of course, death!


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Olympics blacklisting - 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent'

Not so long ago the ODA was being touted by its former Chair, John Armitt, as a model for running infrastructure projects. Politicians and others should not interfere in these projects, which should receive cross-party support, instead they should be overseen by a quango - like the ODA. Armitt's proposal is backed by the Labour Party, which has created a panel to investigate the management of infrastructure projects. Lord Adonis, one of Armitt's panellists, rushed to endorse his proposal.

Armitt's big idea is based on his claim that the ODA 'got it right'. Far from getting it right the ODA failed to carry out its functions safely, as in the botched remediation, harassed and persecuted local residents affected by its programmes at places like Leyton Marsh and Leabank Square and lied constantly about alleged legacies such as Stratford City or the 'largest new park in Europe for 150 years'.

Now further evidence has emerged of its failure to investigate or even pay attention to allegations of blacklisting by its contractors. The case of Frank Morris was already known back in February 2011. The ODA took no action in response to the protests which followed over either the original sacking of a co-worker or of Frank Morris himself, when he raised objections to the original abuse.

In November 2012, the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, told the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigating blacklisting:

“The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise." He also claimed that: “At that time there was a discussion with our contractors and we requested evidence from people making the allegations and no evidence was forthcoming. If it had been then we would have gone after the contractors involved."


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