Speaking at today’s FT Sport Industry Summit, Shadow Sport Minister Hugh Robertson has called for the government to provide greater clarity on Olympic costs following criticism in today's press from the recently departed Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Jack Lemley.
In calling for a greater transparency however, Robertson defended the government against the media reports regarding Lemley’s comments which the Shadow Sport Minister described as misleading.
‘There are three main pots of money where London 2012 is concerned – regeneration, construction, and organisation. While it is not clear to which pot today’s media reports are referring, there is clearly a need for the government to clarify the situation,’ Robertson stated.
‘The only response we’ve had so far is that KPMG (official accountants) is still looking at the situation. I expect that, once the re-evaluation is confirmed, the regeneration costs to grow in the short-term while building costs will inevitably also increase.’
In a media interview published today, Lemley, who resigned as ODA chairman two weeks ago, had blamed politics for his departure stating that construction work on London 2012 was running late and that costs have spiralled.
He stated: ‘I went there to build things, not to sit and talk about it, so I felt it best to leave the post.’
Lemley had previously said that the reason for his departure was due to a desire to concentrate on his own construction business.
In addressing a packed room of sport industry leaders at the opening panel session of the FT Sport Industry Summit, Robertson went on to say that his primary concern was not the costs associated with construction but more that in hosting the Olympics in 2012, participation levels in sport would increase.
In an audience vote at the event, the industry representatives agreed that increased participation in sport should be the primary benefit from hosting the Olympics but Robertson warned that there was no automatic guarantee this would happen.
‘We need to concentrate on ensuring that participation levels increase as a result of 2012,’ he stated. ‘But we can’t rest on our laurels. I was speaking to representatives from Australia who worked on the Sydney Games in 2000 and they said that participation in sport actually dipped as a result of staging the Olympics. We can’t afford to let that happen but participation levels won't grow automatically.’