Daily Telegraph

THE contest to stage the 2012 Olympics has become a three-horse race, with Madrid joining London and Paris as the cities most capable of holding the Games, according to the long-awaited evaluation report of the International Olympic Committee published yesterday.

New York and Moscow, the two other candidate cities, appear to have fallen behind.

Praise for New York was balanced by some sceptical comments in relation to their plans for the Olympic stadium, which has yet to be agreed, and also security for their proposed Olympic village.

But it was Moscow, who staged the Games in 1980, who came off worst with the evaluation commission saying that in many cases they just did not have detailed plans on what the Russian capital proposed.

If London had every reason to feel satisfied, and bid leader Lord Sebastian Coe saw the report as a springboard for success in the vote in Singapore in exactly a month’s time, it was the French capital that scored the best in the carefully worded IOC report.

Unlike previous reports, this much-trailed technical report did not rank the cities, or make any remarks which were overtly critical. Its 123 pages focused on technical issues such as venues, financing, transportation, accommodation, security and public and government support.

However, reading between the lines, it was remarkable that the report did not include a single negative word about Paris, praising the French capital’s “excellent accommodation”, “high capacity and quality” transportation systems and “well-documented” budget. The report also noted that Paris had “fully taken into account” the IOC’s framework for controlling the cost and size of the Games.

London took great comfort from the fact that, unlike the previous report a year ago, when the city was marked a poor third after Paris and Madrid with doubts expressed about transport plans, this time it was noted that “substantial rail, transport infrastructure and investments have been clearly confirmed, guaranteed and accelerated”.

But the next sentence warned that the proposed improvements would have to be delivered on schedule. In fact, the 20-page section on London was marked by comments praising their plans on the one hand while warning that they need to be fulfilled on the other.

The report noted that there were disputes with businesses in acquiring land around Stratford where the Olympic Park would be built. It also stressed that while London had staged big sporting events, Paris and Spain had staged more.

There was praise for the proposed use of Wimbledon and Eton Dorney — existing world-class venues — for lawn tennis and rowing but attention was then drawn to the fact that it would take 42 minutes to get from the Olympic Village to Wimbledon and 61 minutes to Eton Dorney.

The report’s evaluation of London’s Olympic Park, which London see as their strong selling point, gives the flavour of the report on the capital.

It is praised as likely to leave a strong sporting and environmental legacy but, says the report, “the magnitude of the project, including the planned upgrade and expansion of transport infrastructure, would require careful planning to ensure all facilities and rehabilitation projects are completed on time”.

Given the problems the new Wembley Stadium has posed, you do not need to be a very smart IOC member to read the warnings here.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, was asked how he felt about Paris not receiving any such sceptical comments while attention was constantly drawn to things London would have to do to stage the Games.

“Three years ago, if you had said we would be in this shape at this time in the race,the media would not have credited it,” he replied. “Of course given the French have been investing heavily in infrastructure through those long years in the Seventies and Eighties, when the British neglected it, we have a lot of catching up to do but the guarantees are now in place”.

This was also the theme of Coe, who contrasted how far London had come in a year. He said: “This was never going to be a case of it’s going to be all right on the night. We needed to address some observations made a year ago and it’s gratifying that these have been identified in this report as now being our strongest hands.

“This is a springboard for the next 30 days. A good valuation report is not enough to get you across the finishing line but we are in a good position to continue the momentum this bid has enjoyed in the last year. We are in good shape to take the battle even harder and fight towards landing the biggest prize in sport.”

Madrid’s bid was cited for its sporting and environmental legacies. In the only negative comment, the report said Madrid may need to use hotels an hour away by train to meet Olympic requirements. Madrid also came top of the IOC poll on public support with a 91 per cent approval rate in the city and 85 per cent nationwide. Paris was next, followed by Moscow, London and New York.

On Moscow, the report said: “A lack of detailed planning in the candidature file and background information made it difficult for the commission to evaluate the project.”

And while New York’s concept was praised, there was criticism for there being no guarantee for their Olympic stadium, and for transport links to a number of venues. The report said: “New York could not provide a guarantee for the use of the Olympic Square site [Olympic stadium and international broadcast centre]. Compulsory purchase procedures may be required to obtain the proposed site for the Olympic village. These procedures could delay land acquisition, which may impact on construction schedules.”

© Mihir Bose


Share |
Categories: Olympics | 1 Comment »


Follow me on twitter

Home | About | Books | History | BroadcastingJournalismPublic Speaking | Contact | Website development by Pedalo