Games Monitor

Skip to main content.

The Five Ring Circus of greedy fools

After the grisly experience of the Millennium Dome, you might have thought that this government would have been once burnt, twice shy of the construction and mass entertainment business.

After the money-guzzling, credibility-munching monster that was the dome, Tony Blair half-apologised for that fiasco and sighed that there would be 'lessons to be learnt' about the running of large infrastructure projects. Well, if remedial classes in event management and construction ever happened, no one involved with the Olympics seems to have attended them. The disaster that was the dome is now being replicated on an even more gargantuan scale on the other side of the Thames.

It was both predictable and predicted that the Olympics would be a black hole sucking money out of taxpayers and lottery funds and away from good causes. Try justifying these Games to disabled groups whose lottery funding is being cut. Cost overruns are as integral to the tradition of the modern Olympiad as are cheating and corruption. The Games are a serial financial killer.

The taxpayers of Montreal are still paying for the 1976 Olympics 30 years after they were staged in the city. The cost of the last Olympics in Athens went so out of control that the Greeks had to go begging for a bail-out from the European Commission. The Olympic legacy to Sydney was another huge budget-buster and a splendid stadium which sat empty and unused afterwards. Beijing is believed to be flushing away going on for £20bn to host the 2008 Games.

I have to say that even a hard-core Olympic sceptic like myself has been staggered by just how rapidly and wildly the bill for the London Olympics is escalating. The chief spinmeister of the bid effort has written a revelatory book in which he plausibly argues that the figures in the original budget under-stated the true cost because no one in charge actually expected London to get the games.

From: The ruinously expensive folly of this mad five-ring circus, Andrew Rawnsley, 26 11 06, The Observer

Lots more at: Five Ring Circus

See also: Earlier Boosterism