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Sacred Olympic truce? Not quite what they think

Some of our legislators have been talking rubbish again about the Olympics. They seem to think the ancient Olympics were all about peace! Lord Bates opined: 'My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for that positive response, but is she aware that the entire purpose of the ancient Olympic Games was peace?' He then compounded his error by saying: 'The core of the Olympic Truce was to promote the Olympic ideals, to use sport to help promote dialogue and reconciliation, especially between nations in conflict.'

This typical Olympic claptrap then resounded round the House of made men and women. Another of the inmates became upset at the prospect of others taking advantage of any proposed truce: 'If it is true, and bearing in mind that whether or not we have a truce this extremely expensive two or three-week circus in London will be an invitation for bombs, bullets, bloodshed, blackmail and boycott-to say nothing of bogus budgets-would it not be a major folly to cut the security budget?'

Maybe a little historical research would cool their bloody baking brows!

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The cable brakes

It was meant to span the Thames between the Dome and Excel for the Olympics. But now the cable car will not be ready in time, it'll be more expensive and the taxpayer is going to have to fork out some money. Now where have I heard that before?

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Lies, Damned Lies and Sports Participation Statistics!

@ProfMikeWeed has entered outraged mode on that fast-vapourising sports legacy and those spinning statistics.

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Not enough French at Vancouver. Period

Bizarrely, after the fuss about the use of French at London 2012 it transpires that bilingual Canada refused, or at least failed, to include sufficient French in Vancouver's opening ceremony. So says the language commissioner, Graham Fraser.

"It was almost as if the organizers of the show felt it would be offensive to the audience to actually hear French spoken," said Fraser. "I think it spoke to a certain kind of cultural insensitivity."

Others agreed. Federal Heritage Minister James Moore said: "There should have been more French, just period, full stop."

Cultural insensitivity? No chance of that in London, surely. Everything's entirely cordiale.

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2012 security spending could top £2billion

So the £2billion plus figure which emerged from Sky's rather garbled account of the security costs of the Olympics may not be so far off the mark. The Telegraph reports that 'Baroness Neville Jones conceded to parliament that "much" of the £1.131 billion for the two years of the government's 2011-2013 counter-terrorism budgets would be devoted to the Olympics in 2012.'

That doesn't include the revised budget of £470million (which could still be £600million) plus £280million and the general contingency of £500million.

So, the Telegraph points out, Baroness Neville Jones had actually indicated in her speech that 'the end cost, in the event of a major security scare, may very well top £2 billion.'

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SebCo needs a living wage!

Remember that compact between TELCO and the London Olympic Committee in November 2004 when the Olympic Committee promised to pay the living wage? The one that was abandoned by the ODA in September 2006? And which the ODA said it 'would ask' its contractors to keep in March 2007? Which one in five workers then said in October 2010 they were not being paid?

Now it's LOCOG's turn to promise this 'wherever possible' when it takes on temporary staff in some of the economy's lowest-paid sectors, such as security, catering, cleaning and waste services. No doubt this will be a severe strain for an organisation struggling under the heavy burden of its tax free status.

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And now for something completely different

So, the security budget is being slashed by £125M. Plus the security budget is being increased by £280M. Perhaps the underlying logic is a smaller state combined with greater opportunities outsourced to private corporations? Oh, and of course there are tax concessions too!

Of course the 2010 Winter Games really raised the bar on security costs. Perhaps there'll be more clarity on that together with the rest of the Vancouver overspend later this week?

Update: buried elsewhere in the Graun:

• The budget for policing the Olympics in 2012 has been unexpectedly slashed from £600m to £475m. The money will still be made available, but ministers believe it can be done more cheaply. The prime minister's spokesman said: "We think that it's possible to be more efficient in many public services. On that specific one we think it is possible to do things more cheaply. The full £600m remains available if it is necessary."

Given the cluster of 'poorest councils' surrounding the 2012 zone, doubtless they've got a contingency fund on top of that.

Update 2: Tessa May speaking at Home Affairs Select Committee, Tues 14th December 2010 c12:25 makes it sound as though that 'slashing' is very much aspirational, and seemed very keen to stress that the budget could return to the original £600M if necessary.

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Hosting the contract

Credit where credit is due, but not necessarily where the press is concerned. The Telegraph declared the Spectator and Games Monitor, in that order, had struggled for two years to get the London 2012 host contract released under Freedom of Information legislation. But in fact the Spectator had nothing to do with it. Its writer just found it on the Games Monitor website. Andrew Gilligan, co-author of the Telegraph piece, gave sole credit to Games Monitor which was closer to the truth and suggests a Telegraph sub-editor decided to award the Spectator an undeserved mention. Alexander Chancellor in The Guardian didn't credit anyone! The Mail, not a paper highly regarded for its accuracy, and the Spectator itself got it right and named Paul Charman, who had posted the contract on the Games Monitor Website, as the person deserving the credit for insisting on the release of the documents.

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Merde! French is top language in 2012

Sport turns sour for the Brits yet again. After that drubbing at the hands of FIFA and the Russians and being told by Blatter they were bad losers comes more humiliation, this time from the IOC. The press has just noticed the host city contract which has been languishing on this website after an heroic Freedom of Information campaign for its release. Newspapers of all kinds, even including the Guardian, have vented their spleen over the conditions imposed on London in the contract. One of the clauses causing the most annoyance is the stipulation that the French language should take precedence in announcements and ceremonies and that Olympic notices stuck up around the capital should also be in French.

So it seems that victory in Singapore was all for nothing. Having stuffed the cockerel in 2005 the British find French will take precedence in the land of Shakespeare in 2012. For most of the media being beaten by the French is the ultimate humiliation. They echo Blair who didn't even want to go to Singapore in case the French won.

The French have a word for it. Merde!

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Surely some mistake? ODA gets 'Building Public Trust' Award

Another one in the litany of bizarrely inappropriate industry awards for the ODA.

Though I suppose as a public organisation with the mother of all spin budgets, a Building Public Trust award for Excellence in Reporting shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

Few could trump the ODA at padding their annual report with acres of marketing images and implausible and unedifying splash statistics ("300,000 - wetlands plants used within the park")

They undoubtedly have a whole team of External Communications Executives filling in applications for these things week after week, so some of them must hit the mark.