- Actor James Gandolfini, star of 'The Sopranos,' dies in Italy
- British Supreme Court ruling threatens Western sanctions against Iran
- Britain to start sale of Lloyds soon, review RBS split |
- US STOCKS-Wall St drops after Bernanke hints at slowing stimulus
- Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana convicted of tax evasion
Minister says London Games likely to undershoot budget
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain looks likely to have money left over from the 9.3 billion pounds in public funds it has earmarked for the London Olympic Games, sports minister Hugh Robertson said on Tuesday.
A security bill that has climbed to more than a billion pounds had prompted fears that taxpayers would have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for the July 27-August 12 Games.
"We are now increasingly confident that we can land this on time and on budget," Robertson told a news conference.
The budget - more than double the estimate when Britain was awarded the Games in 2005 - includes a contingency of more than half a billion pounds and Robertson does not expect to spend all of that.
"I don't think we will quite empty the piggy bank," he said, refusing to put a figure on how much might be left over.
The money to build the Olympic Park in what was a rundown part of east London has come from central and local government plus the country's national lottery.
The government has no plans to pay for a decorative wrap around the Olympic Stadium despite anger in India after U.S. company Dow Chemical Co stepped in to pick up the seven-million-pound bill.
The high-profile involvement of Dow has revived debate about compensation for a 1984 gas leak in the Indian city of Bhopal that killed as many as 25,000 people. The plant was owned at the time by a subsidiary of Union Carbide, a company which Dow bought in 2001.
Robertson said Dow was one of the 11 leading international sponsors of the Olympics under a deal signed in 2010 and that the stadium decoration was the wrong target for protesters.
"The time for a protest, if any protest needed to be had, was the moment that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) signed up Dow in the first place," he said.
Robertson defended the London Organising Committee (LOCOG), the body chaired by former Olympic champion Seb Coe, which has a separate two-billion-pound budget for staging the Games.
LOCOG raises most of its money from sponsorship, broadcast revenues, ticket sales and merchandise. It has faced criticism for a lack of transparency in its operations, with calls for it to be more open about who had got tickets and at what price.
Robertson said there were "little niggles about transparency and tickets" but that LOCOG had done exceptionally well.
Demand for tickets has outstripped supply and LOCOG has been criticised for the way it has handled a process that has left many Britons empty-handed. It will sell the remaining one million tickets in April.
"We are putting LOCOG under pressure to deliver this in the best way they can," Robertson said.
The future of the Olympic Stadium, now estimated to have cost 431 million pounds, has been another source of controversy.
Local soccer club West Ham United had been set to take it over after the Games but the government was forced to restart the process following a legal challenge.
Robertson said 16 groups had expressed an interest in taking over the stadium. West Ham, seeking to return to English soccer's Premier League, remain the favourites to move in.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this