Olympics Update

By Rob Last edited 225 months ago

Last Updated 27 October 2005

Olympics Update

There's been a quite a few Olympics stories popping up over the past few days, but we're quite aware that it's still seven years away and we're not all that bothered yet. So we thought that we'd save them all up and stick them all in one post to save a bit of time and energy.

So, here we go:

The story that's probably of most interest to the average Londonist reader (and the average Londoner for that matter) is the one about tax rises in the event of an Olympic overspend.

Earlier in the week Tessa Jowell had the unfortunate task of making the Evening Standard's worst dreams come true by explaining that the government would not cap local taxes in the capital in the event of budget nightmares and that, under current plans, a "typical London homeowner would see their council tax increase by about 20 pounds a year for the next decade to help fund the Olympics project."

Tessa was also asked about the seeming contradiction between current government policies to tackle child obesity and the fact that the the London organising committee would be accepting sponsorship from fast food and tobacco companies as long as they could make "the biggest buck" (that's Tessa's phrase not ours).

Expect that issue to raise its head again before we get anywhere near 2012.

And so from fast food to another key element of youth culture: guns.

Special permission has already been granted to allow shooting to be staged at the 2012 games, but because of our current gun laws Britain’s top shooters are forced to do almost all their bang bang stuff over in Switzerland.

The solution? Relax the gun laws of course. It seems there are no half measures when it comes to hand cannons. Again, Tessa is in the thick of it and has agreed to look into the matter but she "would be reluctant to argue that we move from the legislation for which we know there is a lot of public support for good reason."

Guns don't kill people. Olympians do!

Next up - is it money or training that produces world class, gold medal-winning atheletes?

Peter Keen, the performance adviser at UK Sport, seems to think it's all about the Benjamins and has said this week that he will "almost certainly ask the Government for at least double the £25 million UK Sport gives each year to the governing bodies’ world-class performance plans."

To prove the point Alan Somerville, the chief executive of British Gymnastics, pointed out that "After lottery funding was introduced (in 1996) we have moved from 60th in the world to tenth. It comes down to whether you want us to participate or compete. You cannot compete without funding."

However, on the same day Seb Coe had already stood up and said this:

It’s not simply about throwing more money at the problem or adding another layer of management, or the inspiration of former Olympians. But there is no substitute for the world-class training."

Someone's not quite 'on message'.

And last but not least is the inevitable 'transport story'. But believe it or not this one doesn't involve the Tube.

Instead it's cars which will have to watch what they're doing come Olympic time as there's to be designated lanes for athletes and officials, and if any old pleb strays into one of these VIP lanes they could be fined up to £5,000 under "special powers sanctioned by the government" (and if you don't pay the fine you go to prison).

It's called the Olympic Route Network and it was sneaked in via the London Olympics Bill, which passed the committee stage in the House of Commons last week.

But the really galling bit? Around 12,000 corporate sponsors "and their guests" will also be allowed to use the lanes.

So if, in seven years time, you're on your way to work and a car containing a McDonalds exec, his chain-smoking wife and his morbidly obese offspring whizzes past you on the inside lane, don't say we didn't warn you.