Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Organizers promise to resolve London Olympics problems

AP , LONDON

Budget issues affecting the London 2012 Olympics will be resolved early next year, organizers said yesterday.

The British government is soon expected to pass its first Olympic budget -- under close scrutiny in the fallout from the resignation of engineer Jack Lemley from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) in mid-October.

"Rigorous cost management is a fundamental pillar of this project and we are working with government to ensure issues of budgets and funding are resolved early in the New Year and we are confident they will be," London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and ODA chairman Roy McNulty said in a joint New Year message.

"We must not lose sight of the wider benefits of this project. It is not simply about cost. It is also about value and ambition," the statement said.

Infighting

Lemley said he resigned as chairman of the ODA, the body responsible for building the venues and infrastructure for the games, because of political infighting and construction projects appearing likely to come in late and cost more than expected.

Lemley claimed Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell knew of the potential ?1 billion (US$1.95 billion) additional tax bill that could affect the games, months before she confirmed it in an address to a parliamentary committee on Nov. 21.

Then, Jowell said infrastructure costs had risen by ?900 million from the ?2.38 billion figure quoted in the bid. The final budget hasn't been formulated yet, but some British lawmakers have speculated the total cost could reach more than ?8 billion.

Coe and McNulty said great progress had been made this year, leaving the organizations in "great shape" for next year.

Planning

"This project is all about good planning," they said. "By planning games and legacy together now, we are making sure that we only build permanent venues if there is a long term legacy use. We can also make the most of the regeneration opportunity winning the games has given us."

Next year, London will kick off its commercial program, develop plans for the Cultural Olympiad and London's contribution to the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Organizers will also begin to clear the 202-hectare Olympic Park site in Stratford, East London, install utilities and develop more detailed venue plans.

The first demolition work began this month and work on putting powerlines underground began in April.

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