x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Capital idea pays off as some big dreams become reality

When London won the chance to host the 2012 Olympic Games eight years ago, its winning bid was based around the idea of providing much-needed urban regeneration for the youth of the down-at-heel area of Stratford.

When London won the chance to host the 2012 Olympic Games eight years ago, its winning bid was based around the idea of providing much-needed urban regeneration for the youth of the down-at-heel area of Stratford.

Rather than spending billions of pounds building sporting facilities that would be left to decay after the event, the London bid was all about using the power of sport as a catalyst for change.

To that effect bid the chairman Lord Sebastian Coe arrived to deliver his bid clinching speech in Singapore in 2005 with 30 multiracial children from London's deprived East End, giving a very real example of the lives that could be changed with Olympic cash.

Previous Olympic cities have been left for years after the Games struggling to pay off huge debts while the sporting facilities decay.

Hosting the 2004 Games cost Athens €9 billion (Dh42.58bn) to stage while many of the sporting facilities and stadiums fell into disuse.

In Beijing, operators of the Bird's Nest Stadium built to open the 2008 games have said it will take 30 years to pay off the ¥3.5bn (Dh126.3 million) construction costs while events struggle to fill its 80,000 seats.

The London Olympic Village has already had its share of funding headaches.

The scheme was originally sold through a competitive tender to the Australian developer Lend Lease to finance and build the Olympic Village and the Media Centre.

However, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis Lend Lease struggled to raise the funds to build the project on the financial markets.

This forced the government to step in and underwrite more of the plans than it originally intended and to scale back the original designs by some 25 per cent.

The sale of the site in 2011 to Qatari Diar and Delancy represented an estimated £275m (Dh1.52bn) loss to the British tax payer.

Other facilities built in conjunction with the Games include the Emirates Airlines cable car, which has been reported as running at a loss of up to £50,000 a week.

 

lbarnard@thenational.ae