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One big push…

The competition to host the 2012 Olympic Games is now approaching its climax and two front runners are clearly emerging:

London and Paris have earned praise for their “very high-quality” bids to stage the 2012 Olympic Games in a crucial inspection report published on Monday.

There is clearly everything to play for in a contest which is far from over and, despite all the predictions to the contrary, London is still in with an excellent chance of winning the right to stage the Games. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to impose upon my fellow contributors and our readers and ask them to join with me in grand effort to get behind the Olympic bid. The Paris Olympic bid, that is.

You can start right away by sending messages of support for the Paris bid direct to the IOC by means of this feedback form. You can also send letters to the IOC at Chateau de Vidy 1007 Lausanne Switzerland. Or you can send your support by fax to: 41.21 621 62 16.

You can also contact your local political representatives and tell them how much you would love to see Paris get the 2012 Games and send similar messages to you own national Olympic Committee. Also, don’t underestimate the drip-drip propoganda effect of letters to your local and national newspapers, calls to appropriate radio phone-in shows and messages on internet fora and, of course, blog comment sections.

Lastly, I want you all to join me in mass harnessing of psychic suggestive power by concentrating your mind on a mental image of the leafy, sun-dappled boulevards of Paris lined end-to-end with a throng of excited spectators waving and cheering on a procession of spandex-clad Olympians and then chant along with me:

“The Games must go to Paris.
The Games must go to Paris.
The Games must go to Paris.
The Games must go to Paris.”

Repeat this mantra over and over again until your positive energy has been imprinted on the ether.

Any other ideas and suggestions for bolstering the Paris bid are warmly welcomed. Remember, that every bit of effort helps and that you can make a difference. You can help spare my home town from having to endure the burden of this costly 20th century anachronism.

In anticipation of your kind assistance, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

178 comments to One big push…

  • Verity

    Bleedin’ ‘ell, David, on that link, you can’t send feedback without signing up for their Olympic newsletter! Oh, god, daily news ‘n’ views from the Olympic Committee – I think NOT!

    I was more than willing to send in my thoughts about the loveliness of Paris, the wide boulevards for Lycra-clad runners, cyclists, gymnasts and whatever, the efficacy of the Parisian traffic police, the cleanness and efficacy of the Metro – but it’s not a Contact Us. It’s a “sign up for our newsletter or you’re a dead man”. So no. I hope London loses, but I am not receiving IOC newsletters to help make it happen.

  • We should be sporting about this,the French very kindly said cobblers to the Constitution,so in the spirit of Anglo-french solidarity let them have the Olympics.
    The plus will be it will get ZanuLabor out of England for a bit.

  • Bernie

    Here are some links to petitions against the London bid and other such efforts. It is a blog about the our hero Ken and his London Ass embly.
    http://tinyurl.com/d5gr7

  • guy herbert

    If one is going to contact the IOC, better to say you are a Londoner who objects. One of their criteria is support for the bid locally. Creating an impression of an undercurrent of opposition may be easier to manage than making and significant difference to the institutionally pumped-up support total for another city.

  • Stephan

    2012! My city of Vancouver and its satellite, Whistler have to deal with the winter games in 2010! And we’ve already had the joy of winning

  • HJHJ

    What exactly is wrong with you?

    Compared to France we would run a much better Olympics. Better facilities, better crowd support and better infrastructure (say what you like about London’s transport system, but it transports a far greater number of people every day than does Paris’s)

    I was at Dorney for the Rowing World Cup recently – the best supported World Cup event ever – at the world’s best Olympic standard rowing course. There was an ‘arch’ through which you could walk to register your support for London 2012 on the electronic counter. It was run by EDF (Electricite De France).

  • It is very simple, HJHJ… we do not want to PAY for it with your taxes. You want the Olympics in London? Fine… round up a bunch of private sector sponsors like they did in for the Los Angeles Olympics and pay for it without helping yourself to the money of people who do.not.give.a.shit about the Olympics.

  • HJHJ

    Perry,

    I do not need to be patronised by the likes of you (as if you somehow have more insight or intelligence than me) telling me that it’s very simple (in bold letters), thank you.

    If you had checked your facts, you would know that most of the money is coming from the private sector. For example, the Dorney Lake rowing centre has been entirely privately financed, to name just one small example.

    Whilst I prefer private sector finance in most cases, I think that the Olympics would be a much better use of public money than much of what the government spends taxpayers money on. At least there will be a substantial infrastructure legacy and it will bring a huge amount of spending into the country. Far better than the millions it is wasting on inefficient services and paper pushers in the public sector.

    I would far rather the money spent on the Olympics than on the NHS, which does so little for the nation’s health.

  • I do not need to be patronised by the likes of you (as if you somehow have more insight or intelligence than me) telling me that it’s very simple (in bold letters), thank you.

    Then do not write things like:

    What exactly is wrong with you? Compared to France we would run a much better Olympics. Better facilities, better crowd support and better infrastructure (say what you like about London’s transport system, but it transports a far greater number of people every day than does Paris’s)

    There is nothing wrong with us, so as for your dislike of being ‘patronised’, kindly get stuffed, your opening line was quite rude enough for me not to care.

    Moreover the state of relative infrastructure is utterly irrelevant to why we oppose the Olympics in London, so clearly you have no idea regarding the point we are making and the very simple reason underpinning it. We do not want any of our money spent on it. End of story.

  • HJHJ

    Perry,

    At least your comments make it crystal clear to everyone that your manners are lacking, to say the least. My original comment wasn’t even addressed to you as you hadn’t written the article or posted any response.

    The original article, and none of the original comments, did NOT emphasize the cost argument. In fact, it mentioned it only in passing at the end of the article. It was just a whole lot of negativity about the London bid without any real explanation of why. This is why I asked “What is wrong with you?” in the form of an exortation – in response to a whole pile of negativity with very little reasoned argument.

    The point (which is very simple) is that most of the infrastructure spending either has to be made anyway, or will be made anyway (many of the sports venues will be built with or without the Olympics) and the clever trick of the London bid is that the amount of Olympics-specific spending is very modest. In fact, a good case can be made that it will involve less public money than if the Olympics do not come to London as we all know that a large amount of public money will be spent on regenerating this area of London and providing transport, etc. anyway. The Olympics bring sponsorship, team spending, TV income and tourist revenues to help with these costs.

    As I remember, Lord Coe is a pretty right wing Conservative – certainly not the sort of person who is prepared to waste billions of public money.

    So try to look beyond the headline ‘cost’. Demonstrate to me, if you can, whether and how much extra it will cost the public purse if the Olympics come to London than if they don’t. This requires analysis and logical thought, of course and I realise that it’s easier just to be negative and throw insults.

  • Your initial comment was quite rude enough for me and in any case you must be very precious to have taken such umbrage at my first reply.

    I look forward to you showing us your logical thought and analysis as to how how I will be better off if any of my money is diverted by force from my uses to those aimed at some idiotic sporting events. I also wonder if you are going to argue that Livingston is not going to use the occasion for all manner of civil ‘improvements’ directly or indirectly hung on the justification of The Olympic for which the taxpayer will also foot the bill.

  • The Sydney Olympics in 2000 had widespread popular support, a local population that is fanatical about sport, and were held in a city that generally had a recent history of bringing major works projects like roads and stadiums in on time and budget. (This was and is not true of railways, however). The games were a huge success in the sense that everyone enjoyed them, almost all the tickets were sold, and the people and politicians of Sydney and Australia got a warm inner glow out of them.

    As for cost, the general belief for a couple of years after the games was that there had been a loss of about £500 million which had been covered by taxpayers. However, the effort that the state government of New South Wales has put into preventing anybody from looking at any of the actual accounts for the games suggests that the actual cost may have been far higher than that. How much higher is anyone’s guess. We may find out when there is a change of government in NSW – which nobody expects soon – or we may not. However the Sydney games clearly cost a lot. There is also the substantial ongoing cost of maintaining and keeping open the Olympic venues after the games – many of which are used very little. And that, as I said, is in a country that is fanatical about sport.

    In London, I see lukewarn support for the games, a population that is not greatly interested in sport, and a city where major public works projects take forever to plan and/or construct and go way overbudget. The Australian company Multiplex (which built many of the Olympic facilities in Sydney) is late and is losing substantial amounts of money on the new Wembley stadium, having found the engineering, labour, and political environment in London more hostile than it expected when it took the project.

    And while on that, if London gets the Olympics then a second giant stadium will go up in Stratford in addition to the new one at Wembley. London *really* does not need two of these things. Despite being a city of sports fanatics (although Melbourne is admittedly much worse) Sydney did not have a really large stadium prior to the games. It now has one, but even so there are problems finding enough big events to use it regularly and to justity its existence. And this is despite Australia not having the tradition of sports and teams using their own private stadiums the way England does. There is no way that the Rugby Union would transfer its big games to the new Olympic stadium from Twickenham, or Arsenal or Chelsea to start playing home games there, or similar after the games. The equivalent things happen at the Olympics stadium in Sydney, but still its existence isn’t really justified.

    The games in London would cost a horrendous amount of taxpayers’ money, the population would be much more indifferent to them than were the population of Sydney, and London would be left covered with white elephant sports facilities. However, the games would provide tremendous opportunities for public officials to go on junkets and to feel self-important at our expense. Which would be wonderful, obviously.

  • HJHJ,

    I would far rather the money spent on the Olympics than on the NHS…

    If that was genuinely the choice on offer then I would be inclined to agree with you. But that is not what is on offer and never will be.

    I am a London Council Tax payer and my already high bills are going to skyrocket if we get landed with this boondoggle. This is really very personal and enough is enough.

  • Jacob

    “Repeat this mantra over and over again until your positive energy has been imprinted on the ether.”

    “Any other ideas and suggestions for bolstering the Paris bid are warmly welcomed”

    There must be a more practical way. People with money can contact IOC members and offer them to add to the bribes they are already receiving from Paris.

  • HJHJ

    Perry,

    When I say to my team “What exactly is wrong with you?” as an exortation to be more positive when they’re being negative about achieving something, nobody takes it as rude – quite the opposite.

    When someone patronises someone saying “It’s very simple” (in bold) because they don’t agree, that’s rude and I would admonish my staff if they spoke to their colleagues like that.

    Now do you understand?

    In fact, I did summarise why I think the Olympics won’t cost all the public money you assert that it will. In fact, the “idiotic sports events” (this perhaps suggests that your negativity has as much to do with a dislike of sports than just the cost issue – so perhaps not so “very simple”) you refer to will raise far more money than they cost to run. It is the infrastructure that will cost the money and you have not explained how building this for the Olympics makes this more expensive. Let’s have your explanation of this – if you have one.

    Livingstone is a red herring (a poor substitute for the argument you failed to provide) – he needs no excuse to waste public money as he has amply demonstrated over the last few years. If Livingstone’s profligacy is your only argument, the logical thing to do is to expose that and not to blame the Olympics.

    Perhaps you should try participating in sport, incidentally. It teaches mental discipline and does more for health than all the doctors put together.

  • John K

    In fact, the “idiotic sports events” (this perhaps suggests that your negativity has as much to do with a dislike of sports than just the cost issue

    There is not necessarily anything wrong with the Olympic Games (thought they are bloated, I mean, synchronised swimming??), but it the four yearly caravanserai which is so debilitating. Was not the point of the original Olympics that they were held at Olympia for about a thousand years?

    Now that modern facilities have been built in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, it would make sense to rotate the games between these three cities for the next few decades, which would help to get some proper use out of the huge fixed costs of their infrastructure. Why will this not happen? Because the IOC love the power they get from having the representatives of great cities spend millions in grovelling to them for the right to host their bloody games. It’s become a boondoggle, pure and simple. I can see what’s in it for the IOC, and I can see what’s in it for city officials who get power and budgets. But the taxpayer gets the shaft. The taxpayer always gets the shaft. I’d prefer the French taxpayer to get the shaft this time thanks.

  • Shaun

    Michael Jennings,

    I agree with most of your post about the unnecessary white elephant projects and a great waste of taxpayer’s money, but I disagree with your statement that the population would not embrace the Olymics if it is held in London.
    In the 2002 Commonwealth Games of Manchester, even the minor (and dull) sports had huge spectatorships, and just look at the crowds attending sports such as British snooker, darts and flyfishing events. London has the added bonus of large resident expat populations that would be keen to support their fellow countrymen.

  • HJHJ

    At last a well made argument from Michael Jennings, although I don’t agree as he has made a number of errors.

    For example, the proposed Olympic stadium in Stratford will not be a “second giant stadium”. Much of it is specifically designed to be dismantled and it will be just a 25,000 seater stadium after the Olympics. This is why the cost is comparatively modest.

    Most of the other venues are already existing or are being built (and financed) anyway. The Olympics will just bring them a huge lump of extra income

    I don’t accept that Australians are any keener on sport than we are – not from my experience of Australia. They’re very professional about about aligning resources to win things (however minority the sport), which perhaps gives a false impression. As I said previously, I recently went to the first round of he rowing world cup at Dorney – 10,000 spectators and grandstands sold out. This was more than four times the attendance at any previous world cup rowing event (more than any world championships, I’ve heard). Income from the Olympics will be much higher than any previous Olympics.

    I agee with many of his points about Sydney costs, but this is where the London bid is so much more intelligent. Much of the Sydney building was specifically for the Olympics – very little of London’s is.

  • HJHJ

    At last a well made argument from Michael Jennings, although I don’t agree as he has made a number of errors.

    For example, the proposed Olympic stadium in Stratford will not be a “second giant stadium”. Much of it is specifically designed to be dismantled and it will be just a 25,000 seater stadium after the Olympics. This is why the cost is comparatively modest.

    Most of the other venues are already existing or are being built (and financed) anyway. The Olympics will just bring them a huge lump of extra income

    I don’t accept that Australians are any keener on sport than we are – not from my experience of Australia. They’re very professional about about aligning resources to win things (however minority the sport), which perhaps gives a false impression. As I said previously, I recently went to the first round of he rowing world cup at Dorney – 10,000 spectators and grandstands sold out. This was more than four times the attendance at any previous world cup rowing event (more than any world championships, I’ve heard). Income from the Olympics will be much higher than any previous Olympics.

    I agee with many of his points about Sydney costs, but this is where the London bid is so much more intelligent. Much of the Sydney building was specifically for the Olympics – very little of London’s is.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    “As I remember, Lord Coe is a pretty right wing Conservative – certainly not the sort of person who is prepared to waste billions of public money.”

    He is also a former athlete – which is rather more to the point.

    What the hell is it with sportsmen that they believe other people should pay for their hobbies?

    What next? Model aeroplane makers, amateur woodworkers or gardeners expecting state subsidies in the billions?

    The history of this great scam is littered with rotting concrete buildings used by no one and paid for by everyone (except those on the Olympic gravy train).

    If the French want it, let them have it. Like David Car, I’m having to pay for this and I’m damned if I can think of a single convincing reason why.

  • HJHJ

    Except, of course, a recent parliamentary select committee report criticised the government because the amount of taxes extracted from sports clubs was disproportionately greater than the amount of funding that the government provides to sports.

    So if you’re obese and lazy the government will tax everyone else to pay for your medical treatment caused by your lifestyle. But if you’re a sports club (which is helpful to health and helps reduce costs on the NHS) taxes will be extorted from you to pay for the poor health of those that prefer to sit around (and in some cases criticise spending on “The Olympics” which would be spent on infrastructure anyway).

  • Pete_London

    HJHJ

    Why us? Why London? What is the strange thrill that comes with hosting an Olympics?

    Here’s an idea – let Paris have it. If you need to satiate a desire to see athletes perform then get the train to Paris. It doesn’t cost anyone here a penny and you still have your thrill.

  • HRJH largely sounds like an Olympic bid press release. And I am sceptical. The reason why I am sceptical is simply that – well – I have heard it all before. All the stuff about how the games will use existing or planned facilities for which private funding is in place, blah blah blah blah blah. (“This will be the Green games” was said a lot in both cases, too). I am an Australian and I was in Sydney at the time, so I heard it a lot. The words of the Sydney olympic bid sounded exactly the same prior to that bid and to those games, but the purpose of the funding being “in place” was a mixture of foolish optimism and an attempt to sound good prior to the bid taking place. Once it came down to actually getting the money from these private sources, a lot of it vanished and the state was forced to step in. (Most notably, look at the unending saga of the consortium that funded the main stadium). As I personally believe there is great danger that it will here. If you read the fine print of the documents that are being offered to the IOC, the state backs up and guarantees everything. The IOC these days demands it as a matter of course.

    And as for Australian and British interest in sport: in my mind there is really no comparison. I actually like sport, but I don’t miss the unending nationalistic handwringing that goes on over it there and which is largely absent here. English people like football, but there is really very little interest in anything else. Whereas in Australia it goes very deep and through many many sports, not always to the country’s credit. (As for Australians being “very professional about aligning resources to win things”, this is a symptom of Australia’s sports mania with quite precise historical causes, that I could discuss, but it’s a bit too long for this comment, other than to say that Australia’s taxpayer funded Olympic training program disgusts me absolutely beyond worlds). Shaun may be right that London will get behind the games and show huge interest if they arrive – as he says that did happen for the Manchester Commonwealth games – but I see it as far less of a sure thing that it was for Sydney.

  • HJHJ

    Michael’s point is a fair one although you’re wrong about my opinions being like an Olympic bid press release. As someone who is very involved in sports (I both compete – despite my advanced years – and I coach juniors) I was similarly sceptical when the bid was first discussed as it seemed that New Labour could find money for a high profile, high publicity bid, whilst destroying school sports and making life more difficult for amateur sports clubs. But then I realised that the two things are unrelated and that the Olympic bid really doesn’t involve very much new money and that there is likely to be a good return on the new money. Australia may have “had the funding in place” but this doesn’t mean it was money which was likely to be spent anyway.

    I think he’s referring to the national handwringing in Australia after the Montreal Olympics (where, if I remember correctly, they failed to win anything) that led to the concentration on funding Olympic sports.

    I’ve lived in both the UK and Oz and my experience is that the UK is far more interested in a wider variety of sports – a view, incidentally, shared by Clive Woodward. As I have mentioned here previously and someone else has said, the support here for so-called minority sports like rowing and others at the commonwealth games was huge.

    As to Pete’s question “Why here?” I say “Why not?” As I have said, I think the financial benefits will be larger than the Olympics-specific expenditure and it will be a huge boost for all kinds of sports both in terms of participation (with all the accompanying health benefits) and cash. Many foreign countries will set up pre-Olympic camps here and pay for facilities all over the country to be uprated to accommodate their training requirements (this is what happened in many locations in Australia).

    I strongly suspect that many people on this site are just sport-hating curmudgeons. They don’t want the Olympics, so they make the assumption that it will be a commercial failure without having looked at it in any detail. The Olympics do not have to lose money. The key fact here is that the vast majority of the expenditure will happen anyway and the major revenue from visitors and TV is as close to guaranteed as you will get. Yes, there is risk, but its not nearly as large (both in terms of likelihood and potential size) as some would have you believe.

  • Michael Taylor

    Two points. First, if – as seems likely – corruption plays a big role in securing IOC votes, then I don’t think we need worry too much about London winning against the massed political elite of Paris.
    Second: it’d be great in Paris. With the Eurostar (yup, dread name), it’s hardly more difficult to get to Gare du Nord than Stratford if you really want to see this. Plus, of course, London could carry on with its daily life of being Europe’s capital of creativity and diversity. Some cities need the Olympics to feel good about themselves. Think Beijing. London doesn’t.

  • John K

    The key fact here is that the vast majority of the expenditure will happen anyway

    Sorry, but I just don’t believe that, and even if it’s true, why not hold the Olympics in places where the infrastructure already exists, eg Athens, Sydney etc? This perpatetic farce exists solely for the grandeur of the IOC. It has nothing to do with the actual Olympic Games. I enjoy watching the Olympics, I just don’t understand why every four years another city has to fork out x billion pounds to stage the things. That’s why the ancient Greeks held theirs at Olympia, they didn’t bankrupt every Greek city in turn so as to hold them. Why did this idea make sense 2500 years ago but not now?

  • I hope that my fellow countrymen for all future forget the notion of hosting the Olympic Games in Sweden. One reason: swedes aren’t really comfy with the bribe-culture. And that’s a good thing!

    All hail Axel Oxenstierna, father of the swedish bureaucracy!

  • Verity

    HJHJ is a keen sportsman. He’s into rowing and team spirit and all that. That is his choice, but as G Cooper said, why do sportsmen think the world should pay for their hobby?

    The British are football daft and, by and large, like cricket and follow it. Even if they’re not big fans, they know the name of the England captain and some members of the eleven. But, I put this question to you (stabbing finger in the direction of HJHJ’s no doubt well-developed, manly chest), do they know the name of the UK’s synchronised swimming team? Do they know the names of our tap-dancing team? (I am assuming there is a tap-dancing category.) Do they even know the names entering that jaw-crunching yawn-o-rama, our gymnasts?

    Does anyone on planet earth other than the participants and their families care who wins all those metres events? The 5 metre dash. The 7,000 metre sprint. The 90 metre long jump (I mean, the participants are people who go out every day and practise jumping, which isn’t a fitting occupation for an adult); the 40 metre high jump. How about a zero metre standing still category? Will Paula Radcliffe stop for her traditional public poo? So many questions, so much time.

    Do most Londoners want more sports stadiums? I doubt it. They’d rather have lower rates. Do they want the surging crowds and mind-boggling inconvenience so a bunch of people can watch sports? The only people who will make any money are those engaged in the tourist industry, which is already stretched to capacity in the summer anyway, and Mr Fayed’s shop.

    If GDF (Gaz de France) is cunningly supporting the London bid, we know it must be a very, very bad idea.

  • HJHJ

    John,

    I wouldn’t blame you for being sceptical. But unless you’ve looked into it in any detail, I don’t think it’s appropriate to believe or not believe anything about the bid. I’ve looked at it and I’m pretty clear that most of the spending will happen anyway. Whether some of the rail links are good value for money (for example, the channel tunnel rail link and is costing billions just to shave about 20 minutes off the travel time to Paris) is highly questionable, but the fact is that the money will be spent whether the Olympics goes ahead or not.

    I’m pretty confident that the Olympics-specific costs will be much less than the income which results from hosting the Olympics. This is not to say (as someone pointed out previously) that there won’t be horrendous cost overruns – but I re-iterate my point that it is not appropriate to assign cost overruns on projects which will happen anyway, to the Olympics.

    It really is a very intelligent bid in this respect. Sebastian Coe has thought this through very well.

    Yes, perhaps the Olympics shouldn’t be a travelling circus. But the fact is that currently it is and this isn’t going to change for 2012. So the question remains “what should the decision be for 2012?” I happen to think that the nature of the opportunity and the bid on this occasion would make it a very good deal for London and the UK.

  • Why don’t we offer to pull out if the French will leave our rebate alone or in exchange for CAP reform?

    That would kill two birds with one stone.

  • Verity

    EU-Serf – No, no – according to HJHJ, Gaz de France has a petition up for awarding the games to London. They don’t want them in Paris! Therefore, by your logic, we should agree that London take on the infuriating inconvenience and cost of the games in exchange for CAP reform. Actually, as I don’t live in London, that wouldn’t be a bad deal.

  • John Rippengal

    Just reading through all those comments makes pretty well everyone look curmudgeonly except HJHJ.
    C’mon the people have to have their circuses as well as bread. Might instil more of a sense of unity in a very disparate population too.

  • HJHJ

    Verity,

    You do have a bad habit of being nastily personal.

    You repeat the assertion that sports people want others to pay for their ‘hobby’. From where did you get this idea? As I’ve mentioned, I row, so I’ll talk about that sport. Where is the public subsidy in rowing? All the clubs that I know and the wonderful new Dorney Lake are privately funded and pay taxes. If the Olympics comes to London, the rowing will make a profit for taxpayers.
    As I’ve said, this applies across the board – the income will exceed the Olympics-specific costs.

    I dislike some of the mickey mouse sports and would be glad to see them dropped, but the fact remains that the Olympics generate huge audiences and worldwide TV revenues even for the minor sports.

    As for your questions about whether Londoners want various things that you associate with the Olympics, the real question is whether, taking the pros and cons into account, do Londoners want the Olympics. Every opinion poll shows that, overwhelmingly, they do. So you have your answer.

  • HJHJ,

    Lord Coe a right-wing Conservative? Since when? Just because he was mates with William Hague does not mean he is right-wing. Please give some examples of his right-wingness. (As if running such a thing as an Olympic bid isn’t proof enough he isn’t one.)

    There is nothing wrong with those of us that have something against the state supporting sport (ie making taxpayers pay for it) not wanting to see the Olympics comes to London. Why should non-sports fans have to pay for sports-fans to enjoy their hobby? If Olympics fans are so keen then let them go raise the private money to host it somewhere outside of London where they won’t completely bollox up our daily lives for several weeks.

    Have you ever considered that just because someone does not want the Olympics come to London it means they hate sports might a broad generilisation?

  • John K

    I wouldn’t blame you for being sceptical. But unless you’ve looked into it in any detail, I don’t think it’s appropriate to believe or not believe anything about the bid. I’ve looked at it and I’m pretty clear that most of the spending will happen anyway. Whether some of the rail links are good value for money (for example, the channel tunnel rail link and is costing billions just to shave about 20 minutes off the travel time to Paris) is highly questionable, but the fact is that the money will be spent whether the Olympics goes ahead or not.

    Yes, but will it really? That’s the point isn’t it? They may now be saying that “we would have spent x billion on various pieces of infrastructure anyway, so they are not really part of the costs of the Olympics”. But if we don’t get the games, let’s see how much of this money that was going to be spent anyway really is spent. That’s before we even talk about the cost overruns which are inevitable in a project of this size.

    Finally, any project which might in any way serve to increase the power and influence of Red Ken Livingstone must be opposed as a matter of principle. I can just see that bastard waiting for the games to start and then slapping a congestion charge over east London. Don’t give him the temptation!

  • John East

    There are numerous arguments elaborated eloquently on this thread so I won’t repeat them. Many of these arguments favour Paris and some favour London. However, if I were forced to choose between these two cities (and I’m not too bothered which one eventually wins), the clincher would have to be the fact that Paris averages more dry days per year than London. The top olympic sport for me is ladies beach volleyball. Can you imagine holding this tournement in the rain?
    So, there you have it, Paris 2012.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – Personal Attack Alert!!! Personal Attack Alert!!! Sensitive Posters Take Cover!

    The Olympics will be in 2012 and Red Ken sees it as the crowning glory of his disgraceful mayoralty over London. (I am assuming he will be re-elected next time, since neither the Tories nor Labour can seem to find anyone with more personality than a mushroom to run against him.) No expense will be spared to make this the perfect backdrop for Ken’s farewell performance.

    HJHJ – Rowing may be unique in funding itself, but the other sports require public “investment” and many people do not care to make this investment for what is, after all, a minority interest. Yes, people do tune in all over the world, but it’s on in the background, in case the roar of the crowd alerts them to something interesting happening.

    For God’s sake, let the French have it! Apart from anything else, they’ll do a better job. They’ll do it with more flair and imagination (and less political correctness than would be the depressing case under Livingstone’s drab stewardship) and y’all can watch it on TV and the streets of London will not be clogged with even more traffic than normal and hordes of tourists.

    And if you are so confident that it would be self-supporting if held in London, why is the Cheeky Chappie putting up the rates of every single householder in London to pay for it?

  • Rob Read

    As London Housing is so highly valued and Londoners are all mad keep up 4it wicked for the Olympics, it should not be hard for Ken to offer Londoners the opportunity (snigger) to buy a London Olympics 2000 and whenever Bond, with only their house equity as security against the non-existant chances of losses and cost overuns!

    Problem solved.

  • Pete_London

    HJHJ

    You seem to be under the impression that everyone here is a sport-hating curmudgeon. Not so. For my part, I’ve just renewed my Arsenal season-ticket, when the Lions take the Kiwis apart in the next few weeks my phone will be off the hook and nothing gets me off my backside like snow falling on the Alps. The difference is that not everyone is a sporting bore, spending their lives in tracksuit bottoms and sweaty t shirts.

  • HJHJ

    Verity,

    So London shouldn’t host the Olympics because Ken Livingstone is Mayor but it should go to France because they have fine upstanding characters like Jacques Chirac and his fine prime minister De Villepin whom we should support?

    How do you square your claim that other sports require public “investment” with the parliamentary select committee report which criticised the government for the high taxes it takes from sports organisations and clubs compared to the very little funding it provides. Come on, base your argument on facts please!

    The French will do it with more flair and imagination? Eh? Nobody does dull and conservative better than the French. What did they ever invent? Contrast that to the UK’s track record for creativity.

    Are you so naive as to think that Livingstone wouldn’t be putting up council tax (he has no control over the only form of rates that still exist – business rates) regardless? The Olympics is just a convenient ‘reason’. I’m surprised that you blindly accept the word of Ken.

    And its Electricite de France (nothing to do with Gaz) – they happen to own London Electricity.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    “So if you’re obese and lazy the government will tax everyone else to pay for your medical treatment caused by your lifestyle.”

    Probably. And in exactly the same way as it spends millions of other peoples’ money treating sports injuries.

    It’s always revealing how easily the puritanical note creeps into arguments from sports fans.. words like ‘lazy’.

    It really gives the game away: just neo-puritanism in a diferent guise.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – Yes, it’s EDF. I misremembered what you’d written, despite having paused to wonder why GDF was making such a strange plea rather than its parent company, the price-gouging EDF.

    Paris did the World Cup or something with tremendous flair. They have a sense of style that is unequalled by anyone but the Americans – although the manner of presentation is very different, both countries grab you with sheer, unalloyed pizzaz. Britain’s “style” is ugly, inyerface, chippy and destructive. Britain’s style is Jo Brand and a giant plastic statue of an armless, naked pregnant dwarf with truncated legs in Trafalgar Square. The London Olympics would be a hym to political correctness.

    I have no idea what Red Ken is going to do with London rates and don’t care, since they won’t affect me.

    Let me present this tiny pensée, which keeps getting swept under the carpet: Athletes are just about at the optimum performance possible. Even with drugs, they are almost at the point where it will be impossible to shave one more nanosecond off their time.

    What then? We have already seen the desperation on the part of the IOC with the inclusion of sychronised swimming. What’s next? Baton twirling? Tap dancing? They’ll have to come up with something, as people won’t watch dashes and high jumps and long jumps just for the aesthetic pleasure. They want to see records being broken. When this is no longer possible, if the IOC wants to lumber on, they’ll have to find other things to classify as “sport”. I think they rejected ice skating at one point. What’s the betting that that is still – quietly – on the agenda?

  • I'm suffering for my art

    HJHJ makes a fairly convincing case, however precedence runs against him. I agree with Michael Jennings – in Australia there was all the same talk of private funding and the like. Often the private sources ended up being government-funded QUANGOs. Now seriously, with a Labour government in power and an ex-communist mayor in City Hall, isn’t it a little unlikely that things will end up much differently?

    And this

    Are you so naive as to think that Livingstone wouldn’t be putting up council tax (he has no control over the only form of rates that still exist – business rates) regardless? The Olympics is just a convenient ‘reason’.

    is just pure speculation.

  • Just two words THE DOME!

  • HJHJ

    Verity,

    Like Perry and several others (Michael Jennings and one or two others are notable exceptions) when I point out that something you’ve said just doesn’t stack up with the facts, or I invite you to counter an argument I’ve put, you just move on to your next spurious argument

    Let’s ask again why London shouldn’t have the Games because of Livingstone, but Paris should despite Chirac and his like?

    ISFMA, has a good point about precedent, but as I’ve pointed out, several things are very different from the Sydney Olympics, and LA did show that it is possible to run an Olympics at a profit. Scepticism is a reasonable position, but I think the risks have been very well assessed and the alance of probabilities is clearly that London will do well out of the Olympics.

    As for Verity and her French Pizazz and flair argument. The World Cup in 1998 suffered through small and poor stadia, a lack of local interest in any matches not including France, the overrated Stade de France (cramped seating, terrible press and catering facilities, poor transport links and a roof that lets all the sound out). Contrast that to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester which were run with real style.

    You are just plain wrong about the audience wanting to see records broken. They go to see top class competition and I don’t think most give a hoot about world records they want sporting drama, not a time trial.
    The IOC do not keep introducing sports through desperation. On the contrary, they have consistently been trying to reduce the number of competitors in recent Olympics.

    GCooper: Very little is spent by the NHS on sports injuries compared to illness caused by physical inaction (I have been active in sports for 30 years and have never cost the NHS a penny). Just tell me again why self-induced illness should be subsidised but healthy sporting activities should be taxed (as is presently the case). I have no objection to you or anyone else killling themselves with poor lifestyle – I just have an objection to paying for it. Nothing to do with being puritannical.

  • Tim

    At first I was shocked at the idea of hoping Paris gets the Olympics. Why the hell would I want anything nice to go to Paris instead of London???

    But now I understand better. If the Olympics is such a money sink and a hassle to the natives, well, let Paris have it, and with my (uncharitable) blessing.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – I am not trying to avoid an argument. But you are writing as someone who cares desperately about this and knows lots of facts that are of no interest to people who simply do not want to see this event dumped on a city which is already overcrowded and quite unpleasant in many respects.

    I don’t care about council tax. I do care that Livingstone can hammer on an extra percentage to pay for an event that few people have expressed a hunger for. The Olympics is for the final international glory of Livingstone before he steps down as mayor of London and devotes the rest of his life to newts.

    You compare Livingstone with Jacques Chirac, who I hadn’t realised was still the mayor of Paris. I thought he was the President of France. Frankly, I would rather my nationality be represented by a fraud with charm and style than a fraud (Toneboy) who looks and acts like a barker in a travelling carnival. But that is beside the point.

    The French, as I am sure you are well aware, are not interested in the fortunes of anywhere but France. Local interest in other matches would have been infinitesimal. But the show they put on in Paris was spectacular. It’s silly to try to take their infinite capacity for style away from them. (Though oddly enough, it doesn’t extend to making TV commercials, which are dire.)

    The London Olympics would be a hymn to political correctness – like the above-mentioned drab failure, the Millennium Dome.

    I can probably agree with you that the people who actually make the effort to attend the Olympics are sports fans who want to see a good competition. The people who watch it at home and who are the greater number by hundreds of millions and on whom advertisers spent several billion dollars on ads, want drama. They want to see records broken.

    I do not like the whole ethos of the Olympics. I find it fascist. How can an international committee of nonentities decide a city that has been going for 2,000 years should be made unlivable while they stage their show there – and the population of the city has no say. The word demos is Greek and that’s where the games should return to.

    From some of the comments I’ve seen, the Parisians don’t want it either. So how does it happen that leaders are empowered to disempower their electorates and impose events which will showcase themselves at great inconvenience to the citizenries? Did anyone take a poll in London, for example?

    I am sure your rowing club is lovely and state of the art and all that and it is truly admirable that you paid for it yourselves. No one here is disputing this. Maybe they should split up the Olympics and hold equestrian events in one country, swimming/diving events in another and so on.

    The showbiz aspects – the synchronised swimming, tap dancing (why not?), baton twirling could be left to Hollywood which would do it wonderfully. (Always with the caveat that the citizens agreed to hold it there.)

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes;

    “I have no objection to you or anyone else killling themselves with poor lifestyle – I just have an objection to paying for it. Nothing to do with being puritannical.”

    And I have, similarly, no interest whatsoever in subsidising athletes to play games- which is precisely what I am being forced to do by the increases in London council tax, imposed to finance this over-hyped school sports day..

    As you say, you’ve spent 30 years pursuing your hobby. Fine. My grandfather spent over 80 years gardening until age and his eyesight got the better of him. The difference is, he didn’t expect London’s council tax payers to finance the Chelsea Flower Show.

    Moreover, he doesn’t adopt a similarly patronising attitude to those who don’t happen to share his predelictions.

  • HJHJ,
    Besides which old chap, paddling over to France every day will keep you fit and in practice and it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny

  • Verity

    What G Cooper said with bells on.

    It is indeed an overhyped school sports day. Loads of people out there doing their personal best. Well good, but challenge yourself on your own money. And don’t clog up the streets doing your personal best, either.

    People engaged in sports often mantle themselves in an air of sanctity, as though they were doing something that was somehow benefitting mankind. It’s like these jogging morons who run along the road rather than the pavement because the road has a smoother surface, and cars are supposed to brake and swerve for them because they are on the holy mission of exercise.

    People in sports have an air of entitlement and I have never been able to figure out why. They’re engaged in their hobby. I hope they enjoy it. But I’m not going to bring my life to a grinding halt to accommodate them, and I am not going to pay for facilities for them.

    G Cooper’s grandfather didn’t expect the world to pay for the Chelsea Flower Show. That was terribly funny.

  • HJHJ

    Verity,

    You’re always good for an argument, but you haven’t been so good here at making a case or justifying what you think. So you don’t like sports, fair enough, but your argument amounts to wanting to prevent other people from enjoying them – hardly libertarian.

    Let me repeat this: You may be opposed to London or even Paris getting the Olympics, but you’re in a clear minority – opinion polls in both countries have shown overwhelming majorities if favour, so it is disingenuous to imply that you accurately represent public antipathy to the Olympics

    Incidentally, Verity, your comment about London being overcrowded and therefore Paris being a better choice shows your lack of knowledge of the two cities. Paris has twice the population density of London.

    GCooper – as I have pointed out (but it doesn’t seem to sink in) the argument that you’re being paid to subsidise the Olympics is highly questionable. It may well even subsidise you as it it expected to raise more than the Olympics-specific costs. It’s funny getting a lecture on being patronising from you. There are some reasonable postings here questioning the value of games, but your postings just show your bad temper.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of go-ahead people in this country and they outnumber the armchair critics.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes;

    “as I have pointed out (but it doesn’t seem to sink in) the argument that you’re being paid to subsidise the Olympics is highly questionable.”

    Then perhaps you would care to explain to we poor, deluded Londoners, who only imagine we are paying increased council tax, what drugs they are putting in the water supply to create that illusion?

    You can “point out” all you like, but until you can explain that, what is questionable is your specious claim that these games will be cost free.

    And yes, you’re damn right about my bad temper. Having someone else’s hand in my pocket often affects me that way. Can’t think why.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – “… opinion polls in both countries have shown overwhelming majorities if favour …”. You are not so disengenuous as to believe opinion polls demonstrate anything other than what he devisors of the questions want them to demonstrate. If I could be bothered, and had the money to waste, I could assuredly come up with the results of an opinion poll that showed precisely 73% of the population of London being against the city hosting the Olympics. Or a seasoned polling company could come up with 67% for, or any other result and percentage you paid for, as you know.

    I don’t know the populations of either London or Paris, but perhaps it’s the broad streets and boulevards that make Paris feel more spacious. It feels smaller and more livable, too.

    I notice you didn’t apologise for your mistake in thinking that Jacques Chirac was still mayor of Paris, although I thought everyone was aware that he is the president of France. (Dominique de Villepin is the prime minister, just to save you any future embarrassment.)

    I still maintain that it is fascist to force the decision of a bunch of unelected people – the deeply honest Olympic Committee – on the population of a city, thus disrupting their lives for no personal benefit to them.

    I can assure you of one thing, crime will soar through the roof when the Olympics come to town, given that London’s police are already very thin on the ground and are, to severely understate the case, unmotivated.

  • HJHJ

    I’d be prepared to bet that I pay more council tax than you – well over £2000 per year and I’m not in the top band – and I don’t live in London (I’m in one of the 5 highest council tax areas in the country). My council tax has increased faster than almost anywhere else. I pay for schools we don’t use (we pay for our daughter’s education as the local state school – no choice, all the schools are full – is so awful) and get B all for our money. Should I blame the Olympics because I can’t see what extra I’m getting for my money?

    I didn’t say that the games would be cost-free, only that the evidence suggest that the Olympics revenue will exceed the Olympics-specific costs. London has wasted and is wasting huge sums of money on badly managed costs like the tube. Why pick on the Olympics which at least has a credible plan to be revenue-beneficial. Nobody pretends that most of the other money wasting schemes ever had a chance of being viable without huge subsidy.

    For example, have a go at rocketing local government and police pension costs – these really are costing you more and more for precisely nothing in return.

  • HJHJ

    Verity,

    Paris is in France, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I had already mentioned de Villepin.

    The population of London is larger than Paris, but the population density is half. London feels more spacious because of the lower population density and the parks, which Paris lacks.

    As for your views on Londoners and Parisians and opinion polls – laughably ridiculous. The IOC conducts its own polls to gauge support (because they’re wary of those provided by the bidders) and they came to the same conclusions. Come off it.

    Yes, won’t the disruption be terrible? It’s not as if the Olympics only last two weeks and you could go on holiday to avoid it. It will cause horrendous disruption for years! No that you live in London anyway – but your concern for the welfare of the vast majority of Londoners that want the Olympics is laudable.

    The IOC can’t make a city take the Olympics – it has to show it wants the Olympics first by going through a process known as bidding. Cities that share your view that the IOC are fascists can avoid their evil intentions by a clever device known as not bidding. Cunning, eh?

    Thanks for the assurance on crime. It’s all backed up by extensive research, I presume?

    Come on Verity – surely you can do better. If you have reasonable argument (and there are perfectly respectable ones against the Olympic bid) let’s hear it instead of the flim flam.

  • HJHJ
    Not wanting the games is ” wanting to prevent others from enjoying them-hardly libertarian” What is libertarian in demanding that others,not you because you don’t live in London,paying for someone elses entertainment.Please don’t say that watching someone else run is anymore healthy than watching “Celebrity Enemas”

  • John K

    So London shouldn’t host the Olympics because Ken Livingstone is Mayor but it should go to France because they have fine upstanding characters like Jacques Chirac and his fine prime minister De Villepin whom we should support?

    No, it’s so the bloody French can pay for them. Feel free to send them a cheque if you really want to help.

  • HJHJ“Whilst I prefer private sector finance in most cases, I think that the Olympics would be a much better use of public money than much of what the government spends taxpayers money on.”

    So what?

    “I think that” a new airplane engine for me and big bags for all the crack addicts on the corner “would be a much better use of public money” than the Olympics.

    So what?

    What the hell is it about your values that makes them more worth forcing me to pay for them than forcing you to pay for mine?

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    “I’d be prepared to bet that I pay more council tax than you – well over £2000 per year and I’m not in the top band – and I don’t live in London (I’m in one of the 5 highest council tax areas in the country). My council tax has increased faster than almost anywhere else.”

    You’d lose your bet, but it’s irrelevant. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about your council tax. I do, however, give a damn about mine. And you have been unable to dispute that mine has been raised by hypothecated levy to pay for your school sports day. We’re not talking about “the theft that is council tax” (something on which most commentators here would probably agree) but a specific element of Londoners’ council tax being charged to benefit a noisy special interest group.

    Meanwhile, just to hammer a nail into this religious awe with which sports is held, I offer the following quote from the sainted Theodore Dalrymple:

    “I remember once reading a small item in the British Medical Journal not long ago to the effect that there were seventeen million sports injuries per year in Britain. There it was, this gigantic figure: no fuss at all. This, of course, was because sport was, a prioria, a Good Thing, in the Sellars and Yeatman sense of the words. One has only to imagine the outcry there would have been had it been revealed that seventeen million people were injured while — or rather, because of — eating chocolate. Every confectioner in the country would have been arrested, lawsuits would have followed, and allegations of suppression of information made against the chocolate companies.”

    Endorphin addiction my not be quite as unattractive as enslavement to the poppy, but it, too, imposes its burden on society.

    Only one of which is that we are expected to pay for your fix.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – As I said, I think Paris feels more spacious than London, but frankly, I don’t give a damn either way.

    What’s interesting is you want to force Londoners to have the Olympic Games in London so the world can admire the beautiful facilities of your rowing club. You don’t even live in London, so can escape, whereas the people who live there are going to be stuck with the traffic, the one squillion tourists, and, let’s face it, the crime – all for what? Exactly what advantage is the average Londoner whose life has been so discomoded going to derive from all this? Absolutely nothing, except disruption and possibly more crime. Such a fiesty advocate of the Olympics in London and you don’t even live there, so won’t be inconvenienced and won’t be paying the freight.

    Why should the residents of an entire city, a city which has been one of the world’s great capitals for around a thousand years, a huge centre of commerce and supplier of hundreds of thousands of jobs and residence of millions of people, be put into ransome by people with a special interest. If the special interest were anything but the holy “sport”, it wouldn’t even have got a look-in, given the massive disruption to life there. But it’s “sport”, so it’s OK that a foreign committee is going to decide whether to subject this home of millions of people to torture for two weeks in order to showcase a crass mayor and a crass government.

    And now you’ve let it slip that you don’t even live there!! To you, it’s a destination for entertainment. Screw the péons!

  • Verity

    G Cooper – Seventeen million sports injuries a year! Well, it sounds like a lot, but I’m sure all the injured go private, rather than burden the NHS with the costs of self-imposed harm that occured in the holy name of SPORT.

  • guy herbert

    It’s Michael Jennings’s throwaway final line thet needs emphasis in this debate. Why is “London” — that is, official London — competing for this event? Nothing to do with sport or civic regeneration (as if for the moment the latter were more than a fantasy of tax and spend economics). It is so that a cadre of politicians and corporate worthies will get to posture importantly, to do highly visible things associated with grandiose projects before a vast international audience. A spectacle in the tradition of bread and circuses.

  • Johnathan

    Whenever I hear advocates of hosting the Games in a particular location, they frequently talk about the “investment” that such Games represent. This is misleading. The investment is usually underwritten by the taxpayer and ultimately therefore, risk-free. The Games usually involve considerable taxpayer spending on public transport, various infrastructure, security (likely to be a serious issue if London gets the Games) and so forth.

    If advocates of the Games in London really believe in the economic rationale, they should advocate issuing things like Olympic bonds, perhaps carrying a 20-year maturity, using expected proceeds from the facilities to securitise the debt, as is common practice in the financial markets.

  • HJHJ

    Dalrymple’s memory of 17m sports injuries being reported in the BMJ almost certainly says more about his poor memory than it does about the (very modest) cost of sports injuries. It is just not a credible figure if you do a bit of simple arithmetic. Dalrymple is a psychiatrist anyway, so hardly an authoritative source.

    As for Verity’s increasingly ludicrous points – in what way exactly is the entire population of London being held to ransom? A HUGE MAJORITY OF THE LONDON POPULATION WANT THE OLYMPICS.

    Verity doesn’t even live in the UK – a fine position from where to tell us what we want.

    Let me put this another way. Why should the minority who don’t want the Olympics stop the majority that do?
    What gives you the right to claim you’re entitled save the majority from what they want?

    GCooper’s claim that the council tax has already been raised to pay for the Olympics is ludicrous. London has not been awarded the Olympics yet and (I have checked) there is no part of your council tax associated with the Olympics. There is plenty, however, associated with all the current wastes of money. The Olympics clearly would affect the scheduling of much spending and hence council tax, but it is not clear at all that averaged over a number of years it will cost any extra to London residents.

    As for “paying for my fix”, GCooper just makes this cheap assertion based on nothing. He has never subsidised me in any way whatever and most likely never will. The converse is more likely to be true as I am the sort of person that gets on with things rather than just griping from the sidelines. Only two areas in the whole country get a lesser proportion of their local government expenditure supplied centrally than does mine – so I am almost certainly paying rather more than my fair share than he. Most of London gets a relatively good deal from central government funding (paid for by my taxes) so I am almost certainly subsidising him (or her).

    I couldn’t resist quoting this: “What’s interesting is you want to force Londoners to have the Olympic Games in London so the world can admire the beautiful facilities of your rowing club.” Er, no, actually as the world won’t be able to see or admire the facilities at my rowing club as a result of the Olympics – not even a teensy bit. On which planet did you say you lived, Verity?

  • The Weasel Bearder

    HJHJ says:

    I didn’t say that the games would be cost-free, only that the evidence suggest that the Olympics revenue will exceed the Olympics-specific costs.

    On that basis, we could spend £50 million on a stadium and £10 on a banner saying “Olympic Stadium”, then claim that only the £10 is ‘Olympics-specific’. The fact remains, however, that the entire cost still has to be met, even if the stadium is never used again. (Incidentally, is there a noticeable lack of sporting facilities in London already, or in the country as a whole? I would have thought that running and jumping require remarkably little in the way of infrastructure, and rowing needs nothing but a stretch of water which is not exactly in short supply.)

    The further fact remains that the pursuits of a few (participating in sport of various kinds) and the interests of a few more (watching other people participating in sport of various kinds) are being catered for at the expense, both financially and by imposed inconvenience, of everyone.

    Much of it is specifically designed to be dismantled and it will be just a 25,000 seater stadium after the Olympics. This is why the cost is comparatively modest.

    So if it costs £50 million to build a large stadium and £10 million to convert it into a small stadium, how is this cheaper than building a small stadium in the first place?

    the amount of taxes extracted from sports clubs was disproportionately greater than the amount of funding that the government provides to sports.

    Why should the government provide any funding to ‘sports’ (by which is meant ‘people engaging in those sports’)?

  • I am rather amazed that no one has challenged us on the arts. Usually when I speak to the public funding of sports points someone counters with art funding (as I am a creative type). I don’t think the state should have anything to do with the funding of sport or art.

    Politicians are and will use the Olympics as a way of justifying a large increase in council tax and other taxes. Its wrong and I would rather the French people get stuck with the bill rather than me here in London.

  • pommygranate

    I’m with HJH
    This is why the games should be held in London;
    i) it will promote the re-introduction of competitive sports in London’s increasingly anti-sport, anti-competition education authorities.
    ii) It will end football’s monopoly on sports media coverage
    iii) it will bring enormous pride to Londoners. My wife is a Sydneysider. The 2000 Sydney Olympics are still talked about in revered tones by most Australians

    Yes, it will cost (but London is the one of the world’s richest towns and is far wealthier than Sydney) and yes, Livingstone will be unbearable, but these are small prices to pay.
    Sport promotes everything readers of this website should care passionately about; competition, incentivisation, free mobility of workers, free trade, rewards for hard work, not to mention a healthy lifestyle.

  • John K

    As for Verity’s increasingly ludicrous points – in what way exactly is the entire population of London being held to ransom? A HUGE MAJORITY OF THE LONDON POPULATION WANT THE OLYMPICS.

    Ah yes, that will be based on the overwhelming “yes” vote in the “shall London bid for the Olympic games” referendum. Remind me when that was held, I seem to have missed it.

  • John K

    Sport promotes everything readers of this website should care passionately about; competition, incentivisation, free mobility of workers, free trade, rewards for hard work, not to mention a healthy lifestyle

    And being forced to pay for it through your taxes on pain of imprisonment promotes what exactly?

  • lth

    HGHG is making a lot of sense. He repeatedly claims that the majority of Londoners want the games. Local support is a critical part of any Olypmics bid, it seems, and if Londoners didn’t want the Olympics, London would not even be in the running. So can we please lay to rest all of this twaddle about ‘special interests’ and ‘minorities’, when it is trivially clear that the majority of Londoners want the Olympics in London.

    I think the question of whether Verity, GCooper and friends want London to hold the Olympics can be pretty easily distilled to ‘will it bring in money to the UK or not?’, since there is so much talk about raising council taxes and so on. It seems that there is currently no clear answer to this question. Which is dumb – there should be an answer. On a project of this magnitude, the government should have done its sums and be able to officially say “Winning the Olympics will cost £x and generate £y revenue.”.

    Finally, on the 17m sporting injuries per year: for a start, that establishes sport as far more than a ‘special interest’. Secondly, if nobody did any sport, I bet that the NHS would end up paying out considerably more in programmes to help the obese.

  • HJHJ

    Weasel bearder makes a fair point, but when I said “Olympics-specific costs” I was taking into account the factors he mentions. I agree that it costs more to build a big stadium and then reduce it to a small stadium than to build a small stadium in the first place. But this is one of the Olympics specific costs that will be more than matched by the Olympics revenue, if you believe the figures (and it’s fair enough not to, but the figures are realistic in my opinion).

    Actually rowing requires a lake of suitable length and width, which has been very rare in this country until recently. But we now have one (Dorney) and it will make a profit on the Olympics for the taxpayer as the facilities have already been privately built and financed.

    I never said that the government should fund sports. My point is that it is hardly reasonable to make the claim that sports are subsidised when the government taxes sports clubs much more than it ever gives back despite the fact that most are purely voluntary non-commerical organisations. Cutting the taxes and removing funding would be fine by me as sports clubs would be better off.

    I didn’t demand that others, not me, fund the Olympics, I have simply suggested strongly that London and the country would benefit – I demanded precisely nothing – and most Londoners and the country at large happen to agree with me. The vast majority of the funding comes from national and commercial sources and not your council tax. In fact a strong case can be made that the rest of the country will be subsidising infrastructure improvements from which Londoners will benefit. Just like the tube which benefits only Londoners but which is subsidised by central government funds (unfortunately).

    John K, when was the referendum held which said “no” to the Olympics? Would you care to pay for one with taxpayers money when public opinion is already overwhelmingly clear? Your problem is just that most people disagree with you and you seem to have a problem accepting this.

  • John K

    John K, when was the referendum held which said “no” to the Olympics? Would you care to pay for one with taxpayers money when public opinion is already overwhelmingly clear? Your problem is just that most people disagree with you and you seem to have a problem accepting this.

    This is a completely ludicrous comment. You have nothing but opinion polls to back up your claims, and as you well know, the people have never been given the chance to decide on this matter via a referendum. Do most people disagree with me? I don’t know, and neither do you. They weren’t asked. Don’t talk rot, you just make yourself look silly.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    ” Dalrymple is a psychiatrist anyway, so hardly an authoritative source.”

    Dalrymple’s quote was taken from his general work about health, a subject on which he is perceptive, iconoclastic commentator: An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Medicine. I appreciate dissenting opinions (especially from professionals) undermining the health myths cultivated by endorphin junkies down the years may be uncomfortable, but there you go.

    As for the cost to council tax payers, the figures are at least the following (I say at least because they are from Red Ken himself): “The Mayor and the Government have agreed a public funding package of up to £2.375 billion to help meet the costs of staging an Olympics in London in 2012. The first £2.050 billion of the funding package will be met from up to £1.5 billion from the lottery and up to £550 million from London Council Tax,”

    No doubt the final tally will be very considerably higher – not least because Livingstone’s estimate doesn’t include the costs of disruption. And, of course, because he is a serial twister.

    As for the claimed financial benefits, as the recent Capital Economics report said, the chances are that it will make virtually no impact at all.

    You have still to make a case for a single penny of council tax payers’ money being spent to subsidise this beanfeast for the blazer brigade.

  • HJHJ

    John K,

    As someone said earlier, it is trivially obvious given the evidence that most people in London want the Olympics – all sorts of surveys and polls have confirmed this beyond any shadow of a doubt. Opinion polls are generally accurate to within about a 3% error margin.
    Why aren’t you advocating a referendum of the whole country to see whether they want to continue to subsidise the tube for Londoners to a rather greater amount than the cost of the Olympics? If we are going to have referenda on public spending, a few hundred items would be higher up the referenda list than the Olympics.

    As you said, don’t talk rot, you just make yourself look sillier with every post.

    GCooper confirms what I said – he has not yet paid a penny in Council tax towards the Olympics. Council tax payers will be asked to pay £550m in extra council tax ostensibly for the Olympics. It sounds like a big figure but it is spread over a number of years, is tiny compared to the totality of local government spending in London and will pay for facilities/infrastructure much of which would be funded through other taxation routes anyway because the proposed Olympic park was earmarked for development (although the Olympics will affect the scheduling and the exact nature of the spend).

    I did a bit of research about the supposed cost of sports injuries to the NHS. the figure of £440m has popped up several times. This is a fraction of one per cent of total NHS spending and about half of what is spent on heart drugs alone (not heart treatment, just the drugs). Let’s not even talk about diabetes, obesity and other afflictions caused by physical inactivity. Insiders are very poor at exploding health myths – they have an interest in sustaining their own income. Doctors would have you believe they have a big positive impact on health, but the facts are that they don’t. Civil engineers implementing sanitation schemes have done more for health (at less cost) than all the doctors put together.

    In any case, I didn’t advocate having the Olympics in London on the basis of encouraging more people doing sport – you just assumed this was my motive. I just said it’s a better deal than NHS spending (and will have some side effects of upgrading sports facilities around the country at other countries expense – as happened in Australia)

  • HJHJ

    John K,

    As someone said earlier, it is trivially obvious given the evidence that most people in London want the Olympics – all sorts of surveys and polls have confirmed this beyond any shadow of a doubt. Opinion polls are generally accurate to within about a 3% error margin.
    Why aren’t you advocating a referendum of the whole country to see whether they want to continue to subsidise the tube for Londoners to a rather greater amount than the cost of the Olympics? If we are going to have referenda on public spending, a few hundred items would be higher up the referenda list than the Olympics.

    As you said, don’t talk rot, you just make yourself look sillier with every post.

    GCooper confirms what I said – he has not yet paid a penny in Council tax towards the Olympics. Council tax payers will be asked to pay £550m in extra council tax ostensibly for the Olympics. It sounds like a big figure but it is spread over a number of years, is tiny compared to the totality of local government spending in London and will pay for facilities/infrastructure much of which would be funded through other taxation routes anyway because the proposed Olympic park was earmarked for development (although the Olympics will affect the scheduling and the exact nature of the spend).

    I did a bit of research about the supposed cost of sports injuries to the NHS. the figure of £440m has popped up several times. This is a fraction of one per cent of total NHS spending and about half of what is spent on heart drugs alone (not heart treatment, just the drugs). Let’s not even talk about diabetes, obesity and other afflictions caused by physical inactivity. Insiders are very poor at exploding health myths – they have an interest in sustaining their own income. Doctors would have you believe they have a big positive impact on health, but the facts are that they don’t. Civil engineers implementing sanitation schemes have done more for health (at less cost) than all the doctors put together.

    In any case, I didn’t advocate having the Olympics in London on the basis of encouraging more people doing sport – you just assumed this was my motive. I just said it’s a better deal than NHS spending (and will have some side effects of upgrading sports facilities around the country at other countries expense – as happened in Australia)

  • HJHJ

    John K,

    As someone said earlier, it is trivially obvious given the evidence that most people in London want the Olympics – all sorts of surveys and polls have confirmed this beyond any shadow of a doubt. Opinion polls are generally accurate to within about a 3% error margin.
    Why aren’t you advocating a referendum of the whole country to see whether they want to continue to subsidise the tube for Londoners to a rather greater amount than the cost of the Olympics? If we are going to have referenda on public spending, a few hundred items would be higher up the referenda list than the Olympics.

    As you said, don’t talk rot, you just make yourself look sillier with every post.

    GCooper confirms what I said – he has not yet paid a penny in Council tax towards the Olympics. Council tax payers will be asked to pay £550m in extra council tax ostensibly for the Olympics. It sounds like a big figure but it is spread over a number of years, is tiny compared to the totality of local government spending in London and will pay for facilities/infrastructure much of which would be funded through other taxation routes anyway because the proposed Olympic park was earmarked for development (although the Olympics will affect the scheduling and the exact nature of the spend).

    I did a bit of research about the supposed cost of sports injuries to the NHS. the figure of £440m has popped up several times. This is a fraction of one per cent of total NHS spending and about half of what is spent on heart drugs alone (not heart treatment, just the drugs). Let’s not even talk about diabetes, obesity and other afflictions caused by physical inactivity. Insiders are very poor at exploding health myths – they have an interest in sustaining their own income. Doctors would have you believe they have a big positive impact on health, but the facts are that they don’t. Civil engineers implementing sanitation schemes have done more for health (at less cost) than all the doctors put together.

    In any case, I didn’t advocate having the Olympics in London on the basis of encouraging more people doing sport – you just assumed this was my motive. I just said it’s a better deal than NHS spending (and will have some side effects of upgrading sports facilities around the country at other countries expense – as happened in Australia)

  • HJHJ

    I just did a bit of quick research. PPP makes it difficult to arrive at an exact figure, but it seems that central government will be subsidising investment in London Underground by around £500m per year for the next 20+ years.

    Why isn’t GCooper complaining about this imposition on taxpayers across the whole country and instead arguing for higher fares or council tax in London to pay for it instead?

    It’s just so easy to knock down what passes for argument from some of you guys. Now if someone were to put together a coherent alternative whereby the proposed Olympics site could be regenerated entirely privately and suggest a way to get the private sector to pay for all the transport and other essential infrastucture thereby relieving the taxpayer of the expenditure (which currently will largely happen anyway with or without the Olympics, albeit probably more slowly) then there would be a good counter-argument to the Olympics. If there is a good argument, I could change my mind. But at the moment, the Olympics is a better choice than the alternatives.

    Ae there any purveyors of good ideas out there are or are there just gripers with spurious and shifting arguments, preposterous claims (“Londoners are being held to ransom over the Olympics”) and a complete disregard for the facts? Yes Verity, GCooper, Perry and John K, I mean you. So far I’ve proved more than a match for all of you put together – time to get your act together, if you can.

  • John K

    Council tax payers will be asked to pay £550m in extra council tax ostensibly for the Olympics.

    I always love that “will be asked.” And if the answer’s no? Bailliffs? Prison? How about tax payers will be forced to pay £550m (and counting).

    Can you tell me how much the tax payers of Islington have had to stump up for the Arse’s new stadium? Might it be nothing? Haven’t the Arse had to fund it themselves through a bond issue? What’s stopping the BOC doing something similar? Might it not just be a bit easier for them to get Red Ken to “ask” his taxpayers for the odd half billion?

    Yes Verity, GCooper, Perry and John K, I mean you. So far I’ve proved more than a match for all of you put together – time to get your act together, if you can.

    God, I feel so crushed. Please give me the address where I can write to to send my cheque to the BOC now, I have been converted by the brilliance of your argument. Public sector good, private sector bad. Of course, it all seems so simple now you explain it to me.

  • Verity

    Guy Herbert – of course it is for the glory of the London government. I have said several times, London is ludicrously vying for the Olympics – without the permission of the citizenry – because it is to be the glorious swansong of Red Ken’s political career. In 2012, he will be around 70 and ready to put his feet up. Modest as ever, he wants to leave in a huge blaze of international drama and glamour. The parades! The banquets! The podiums! The interviews on worldwide TV!

    1th says: “Local support is a critical part of any Olypmics bid, it seems, and if Londoners didn’t want the Olympics, London would not even be in the running.” Really? Evidence? And “It will end football’s monopoly on sports media coverage.” No it won’t. It will bury football coverage under an avalanche of other sports and athletic non-events which will be covered 24 hours a day. After the Olympics have folded their tents and their caravanserai rolls on to begin work on the next victim, football coverage in the UK will return to normal.

    Pommygranate makes another ludicrous point: “it will promote the re-introduction of competitive sports in London’s increasingly anti-sport, anti-competition education authorities.” No comment.

    I am not going to respond to any more of HJHJ’s post because they are becoming increasing noisy and aggressive, and he keeps repeating what he imagines to be his killer point: the overwhelming majority of Londoners are panting to have their lives taken out of their own hands for two weeks, as this is what the opinion polls say. Several of us have pointed out that opinion polls say whatever the commissioner of the poll wants them to say. It’s juvenile to quote them as fact. Fact: Londoners have never been asked for their opinion in a referendum. This disruption of their lives is being imposed on them. (If it happens, which I hope it doesn’t.)

    To Andrew ID – Agreed. Completely. Governments shouldn’t be funding hobbies, no matter how worthy or how ludicrous.

    Many people here are arguing from the base point of sports being somehow elevated and more worthy than, say, reading. Sports are one form of human activity that some people enjoy. Going to the movies or going out for dinner are others. Listening to music is another. So bloody what? What is it with the Hearty Henrys that they do not wish just to enjoy sport, but to force other people to “enjoy” it, too?

    Remember, everyone, Hitler elevated sport to an almost spiritual significance … I have said all along, there is more than a hint of fascism about this.

  • pommygranate

    Verity
    You are correct. I am an unabashed supporter, player and promoter of sport. I believe in the characteristics needed to excel in sport (teamwork, the concept of winners and losers, incentivising hard work and success).

    This is why the loss of competitive sport in London’s schools is such a tragedy. Introducing “movie going” into the National Curriculum just isn’t the same thing.

    Comparing a love of sport with Nazism seems a little extreme?

  • Verity

    pommygranate – I don’t compare love of sport with Naziism. I compare the forced disruption of the lives of millions of non-participants (without their permission) in the glorious name of sport to be fascist. To discommode millions of people for something they never asked for and possibly don’t want, for the pleasure and profit of others, and to force them to pay for it, is dictatorial.

    I am not arguing that people shouldn’t enjoy sport. I am not arguing they shouldn’t participate in sports. I am not arguing that football players and their teams shouldn’t make millions of pounds. I’m a capitalist.

    It is the the jackbooted conquest of other people’s streets and lives that disturbs me. This is being forced on people – whether the people of London or Paris. Neither of these ancient and important cities needs the fame or the glory of hosting a giant school sports day.

    Given that it is a jaganath and will roll forward crushing everything in its wake regardless, let them at least go somewhere where they will be welcome. The people of Moscow seem to want it. It would help their economy. Give it to Moscow! Be a sport!

  • HJHJ

    Verity (famous for her noise and aggression) is not going to respond to my posts because she has no coherent answer to my arguments, has none of her own apart from her usual bile, and has run out of spurious and irrelevant meanderings. At least we’ll hear no more of her nonsense about the conspiracy of pollsters deliberately deceiving us all – a fate from which we are only to be saved by her unique insight into the opinions of Londoners (from across the Atlantic). What a relief.

    John K. I agree with you that private sector funding is generally superior and I challenge you to provide any evidence that I tried to argue otherwise (please address this or admit you’ve misrepresented me). You are entirely missing the point. The council tax money is part-funding the infrastructure improvements – the Olympics income will more than cover the cost of the stadium. In fact, a good mechanism would be to get a private company to take the risk of building the stadium in return for TV income.

    Arsenal are not having to pay for train and road links to their new stadium. They are already there. This is not true of the proposed Olympic stadium – they will largely have to be put in whatever is done with the site unless it is left derelict, which it won’t be. As things stand most of this will come from taxpayers anyway with or without the Olympics. I would prefer it were this funded privately – unfortunately this is not one of the options on offer at present. I would rather than the Olympics help pay for the cost than for it all to come from taxpayers.

    Taxpayers are being ‘forced’ to pay for lots of things. Why do you uniquely pick on the Olympics when it costs so much less than the tube, the NHS, etc.? Why do you not argue for the taxpayer to cut the tube subsidy as well as not paying for the Olympics – or do you use the tube and secretly like the fact that the whole population of the UK has to pay for it?

    Why can’t you bring yourself to face the real world where taxes are already levied forcibly, where you have to choose betwen the actual options on offer and not the world with no taxes and everything privately funded? I’m all for lower taxes and more private funding – the point is that in this particular case, the Olympics is the better of the options on offer.

  • sesquipedalian

    HJH,

    What makes you think that having the olympics in London rather than Paris will make british people more interested in sport? Eg. The 94 world cup was held in the US to get americans into the sport and totally failed in that respect.
    The extra spending money needed from the UK taxpayer (and don’t kid yourself to the contrary) could
    better spent giving, say, tax breaks for gym memberships.
    Anyway where is the evidence that healthy people are less of a burden? Healthy people usually live way beyond retirement age but still need care.

  • HJHJ

    Pommygranate,

    I’m afraid you’re wasting your time with Verity. She has lost it entirely.

    “Jackbooted conquest of ther people’s streets and lives that disturbs me”?

    Verity is definitely disturbed.

    By the way, how does she know that the people of Moscow want the Olympics and those of London and Paris don’t? Why would it help their economy and not ours? How does she know what’s best for these cities from so far away? Is she admitting that the Olympics could help the economy and if so why in Moscow and not in London or Paris (she wanted it in Paris before but conistency was never her strong point)?
    Did she hold a referendum? If not why is she using her jackboot to force it on Muscovites? I think we should know or does she have a sinister fascist plan?

  • HJHJ

    Sesquipedlian,

    I didn’t say that the Olympics in London rather than Paris would make British people more interested in sport. It might do, but I made no such claim.

    I did suggest that the population already is very interested and that high spectator attendance would help the Olympics commercially – I think this is more likely in London than in Paris.

    Healthy people do cost less in healthcare. It’s not right to suggest that they need just as much healthcare, only later in their lives. Numerous studies have shown this. Those that have unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to require expensive palliative care over a long period. But I didn’t use health as an argument for hosting the Olympics – I just pointed out that at a given level of public spending, spending government money on encouraging sports participation gives better health benefits than more spending on the NHS. In fact, I’d rather have lower taxes than either, as I think people should generally take responsibility for their own health (it would help though if the government taxed sports clubs less. The tax they pay discriminates against them to pay for the likes of the NHS)

  • Pete_London

    HJHJ

    You’re not twisting this around the other way. London does not have the Olympics (yet) and we remain unconvinced. It’s your job to convince us why London should have it. In this you’ve put up a pathetically weak argument.

    When I asked you ‘why London?’ your reply was ‘why not?’ When your next prospective employer asks ‘why you?’ by all means see how far ‘why not me?’ gets you. Be sure to close the door on the way out.

    Of course transport links serve the area around Arsenal’s new stadium, but these are wholly inadequate for the increased capacity and Arsenal is picking up the tab for upgrading rail and tube infrastructure.

    Opinion polls are phooey. Believe them and you’ll believe anything. I know far more people who don’t want the Olympics than do. In any case, so what? Your logic is that if 51% of Londoners voted ‘no’ in a poll you’d argue against bidding for the charade. I don’t think you’d do any such thing. A red herring.

    On funding, if you believe that the Olympics will be anything other than a financial yoke arounds the taxpayer’s neck you’re a naive fool. In any case, again, so what? Even if the Olympics were guaranteed to make a fortune for London, so what? I’d still not want them. A red herring.

    You’ve not given one solid reason why thousands of Londoners must be forced to pay for the privilege of suffering years monstrous disruption so you can get your jollies off for a few weeks. Do better than half baked, ill-thought out opinions or don’t bother.

  • John K

    John K. I agree with you that private sector funding is generally superior and I challenge you to provide any evidence that I tried to argue otherwise (please address this or admit you’ve misrepresented me). You are entirely missing the point. The council tax money is part-funding the infrastructure improvements – the Olympics income will more than cover the cost of the stadium. In fact, a good mechanism would be to get a private company to take the risk of building the stadium in return for TV income.

    You are putting forward an argument that most of the money to be spent on the Olympic infrastructure in east London will be spent anyway, so the bid is just the icing on the cake. That’s what the bid documents might say, I don’t believe them. They will of course seek to put the bid in the best possible financial light. If the London bid fails, let’s see how much of this infrastructure which was allegedly going to be built anyway actually gets built.

    Look, every modern Olympics costs billions to stage, there’s no getting round it. The half billion that Red Ken is “asking” for is just the first instalment. Paris has got a huge advantage because most of their sporting infrastructure has already been built. If London’s bid fails I somehow doubt that many 100m pools will be built, don’t you?

    The French love a grand projet, and they’re willing to pay for this one. I say let them.

  • HJHJ

    Pete,

    If my arguments were so weak you would deal with them wouldn’t you? They why don’t you? You lack either the arguments or the intellect or more likely (given your lamentably poor posts) both.

    So opinion polls are phooey (even overwhelming ones from professional pollsters) and you know more people than were asked in opinion polls and they all agree with you? Yes, right. Planet Pete.

    If it was questionable whether Londoners wanted the Olympics I would question whether they should be held in London and probably not support the bid. This doesn’t mean that I’d change my mind on their potential value, but I’d nort support a bid against Londoners wishes. But the support is clearly overwhelming – you just choose to construct ludicrous reasons why this isn’t so.

    Interesting that you think I’m a naive fool but you are all clued up and streetwise and big. You’re so much wiser than me aren’t you? Pity you didn’t (more likely couldn’t) provide any evidence of this. I have been involved in many large projects over the years – the risks on this project have been very carefully thought through. There may be huge cost overruns, but it is not likely on the Olympics-specific parts. Much more likely (and bigger on the projects are happening anyway)

    Why have I got to convince you that London should have the Olympics? London has entered a bid in, case you hadn’t noticed, so I don’t have to persuade you of anything.

    As for the years of disruption – well Londoners seem to accept this as all the polls show regardless of the opinions of you and the peole you know (the idea that you could somehow be representative is laughable). London would still be a little village on the Thames if residents hadn’t been prepared to accept the disruption of development in exchange for the benefits it offered.

    Pete, if you have an argument or some opinions that have any relationship to reality please give them or don’t bother. There are high quality decision makers with the intellect to prepare an excellent plan and bid on my side. Where’s the calibre on yours?

  • Verity

    HJHJ – the most prolific and frantic commentator on this topic: Why does it matter so much to you?

    Of course, everyone here – in fact, everyone in the British Isles and throughout the Commonwealth -recognises that you have presented unanswerable killer arguments here. I am in awe of that keen forensic mind coupled with the incisiveness of your debating skills and your ready marshalling of facts. Although you have not answered one objection put forward by any of us, except with noise, aggression and personal insults, you absolutely must be right because you are a master of the universe. You belong to the rowing club in Dorney. You believe in SPORT! Contrary points of view are met with noise and aggression. You are offended that there are sentient beings on this earth who do not subscribe to your confidence that SPORT cures all known ills! How dare they!

    As a point of interest (to others; not you), Muscovites seem to actually be hoping they win the bribe – oops! -bid. They actually need the infrastructure and they want a universal showcase for their city in the hopes of attracting tourists, which they need. Neither Paris nor London needs a showcase. Let it go to people who want it and can benefit from it. Otherwise, let it go to Paris.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    ” You lack either the arguments or the intellect or more likely (given your lamentably poor posts) both.”

    We’re finally seeing the true spirit of sport in these last few posts. Why not wipe the spittle off your screen, calm down and try answering the single point which you have so far refused to address.

    Why should tax payers fund the Olympics in London?

  • If sport produces such dirigiste,egotistical,self obsessed prigs as HJHJ what merit is there to it?
    Instead of holding the Olympics here,why don’t the just send their pharmacists,park them in an hotel for a couple of days so they can compare fornulae.

    It might be worth pointing out the vast sums of loot that successful athletes earn through sponsoship and the nice little sinecures they land in the media.
    The main events in sport are big business,most athletes are professional in everything but name,let the countries the represent all pay towards a permanent home for the Olympics,somewhere else.If HJHJ cannot make as much money as the star athletes,he can always get a job as a galley slave.

  • GCooper,
    The man spends his time paddling a boat on a pond!

  • HJHJ

    John K,

    I’m pleased to see that you acknowledge that my argument is backed up by the bid documents – some others have erroneously said that I have no argument, despite making dubious assertions and claims of fascism and whatever themselves. I also agree that it’s not unreasonable to have some scepticism about the cost of the plans, but that’s not to say they’re wrong. My point is that you also have to consider how likely it is that they’re wrong and how big the consequences could be – in other words a risk assessment.

    It is a common misconception that Paris has more of the sporting venues already built. In fact, London has (it surprised me, but it’s true and the source is the IOC report).

    Equally, the infrastructure won’t be exactly the same if the bid isn’t successful – this is a fair point. But this is a huge expanse of land which will be redeveloped and will require huge infrastructure of the type envisaged in any case – much of which is already happening. It is more a question of when than whether.

    In fact the Aquatics centre that you doubt will be built is already under construction and will be finished regardless of the Olympics.

    I agree that the Olympics costs a lot to stage. Perhaps too much. Perhaps it would be better if the IOC had a rule that all funding had to be independent of government. But it doesn’t, so the question is whether it’s still worth having the games in the circumstances which exist- and I believe the evidence is that it will, almost certainly more so for London than the other contenders.

    We all know that the government is going to spend on big rail and other projects (where some of the commercial logic is questionable – just look at the channel tunnel link) and much of it is happening in the area anyway (remember when they drove the IOC members through that huge new tunnel?). This, in my opinion is why the Olympic bid so intelligently takes advantage of the circumstances.

  • HJHJ

    GCooper and Pete,

    Can you sink lower? It would be a major athletic achievement if you can.

    I shall at least answer GCooper’s question (in fact I have many times before but he/she wasn’t listening). The taxpayer will only partially fund the Olympics. The taxpayer is already or will be funding huge infrastructure projects in the area anyway and the Olympics offers the opportunity to get a better return for the taxpayers money which is being spent anyway.

    I could have sworn that Verity said she wasn’t going to respond to my posts. Can’t she keep to her word?

    Look back and see who launched into insults. It wasn’t me. But then I had a coherent argument and the insults came from those who don’t now how to debate.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    HJHJ concedes that taxpayers’ money will be spent on infrastructure in East London as part of the Olympic project. Of course, if the Olympic facilities were able to be self financing and attract future use, then the infrastructure could also be paid for out of private sector funds.

    I personally would like to see the Games held permanently in Greece in order to put an end to the mixture of corruption, petty nationalism and political grandstanding associated with this event.

    People may wonder why many of us commenters are so keen to prevent the Olympics happening here. The reason is not hatred of sports – hardly since many of us are sports fans and play a few as well – or mean spiritedness, but because sport, like arts, is not a core government activity.

    If we are serious about rolling back the state, cutting the burdens of tax, then we have to start with stuff like this before moving into more serious territory like the Welfare State.

    Sport can and should be left to the market and private philanthropy. The state and its tax-raising agents should be kept as far away from it as possible.

  • HJHJ,
    Your general overbearing an hectoring tone displayed how low you can sink.
    The Olympics will “only” be partially funded by taxation? Since you are so keen on health matters,wouldn’t you rather the money went on improving Londons Hospitals?
    Why should professional athletes be subsidised anyway?
    An intelligent use of the money would be not to spend it on this enormous boondoggle but spend it on the tube.Your idea seems to be any long term infrastructure projects have wasted money ,so Hey! Lets have a party instead.
    Your blithe dismissal of any cost overrun makes you sound as if you are a public sector employee.

  • Barry Arrowsmith

    Of course all problems would vanish if:-

    1. There was no IOC.

    2. The sporting bodies of potential host nations were responsible for organising and paying for facilities, venues and expenses – including a levy on ALL sporting club members (I’d be interested to know just how much hard cash HJHJ is lifting from his own trouser pocket).

    3. No national flags.

    4. No medals or medal ceremonies (it does say that “it’s not the winning but the taking part” doesn’t it?)

    5. Limit the sports programme – no football, tennis, or in fact any sport that could not be fitted into a single stadium/sports hall complex. That would, sadly include sailing, rowing and equestrian events. Sorry about that – but they do already have their own separate World Championships, as I’m sure you know.

    6. I’m not too enamoured of under-age female gymnasts either – set a realistic minimum age for all competitors.

    This would more or less guarantee that no politician would touch it with a barge pole, the enthusiasts could enjoy themselves and that the Games would be so small that nobody who wasn’t interested would even notice they were on.

    BTW, I notice that HJHJ has neglected to mention that the sporting enthusiasts in government are so keen to foster international competition that the shooting events will have to be held outside the UK. The Firearms Regs make such competition illegal.

    bta

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Barry, thanks for raising the final point about shooting. Very good point. Britons have excelled at the sport for years but now have to go abroad to practice. Utterly absurd.

  • Julian Taylor

    Well, I support Rugby Union, but I don’t see an Olympic rugby event. I also support cricket and again there isn’t going to be an Olympic cricket competition, but Livingstone (possibly the only man who can make George Galloway look erudite and incorruptible) is going to use Lords to host the archery competition. So first of all let’s have less of the ‘you-don’t-support-sports-therefore-you-don’t-know-jack’ attitude.

    Certainly London is not all about soccer – indeed of the Olympic soccer events only the final is scheduled to be held in London, hopefully by 2012 the ridiculous consortium trying to build the new Wembley Stadium will have completed it. However the league matches [MS WORD] will be held in Villa Park, Birmingham, St James’s Park, Newcastle, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Windsor Park, Belfast, Hampden Park, Glasgow and Old Trafford,
    Manchester… wait a second, isn’t this meant to be the LONDON Olympics?

    There are unpleasant rumours circulating that London councils may be looking at a 12% hike in council tax charges next year, under orders from the London Assembly (Livingstone’s personal piggybank) and that this increase is already being referred to as the “2012 tax”. While Gordon Brown last year alluded to the cost estimated at £12 per person per annum from 2005 to 2012 and £20 per Londoner per annum for the same period, this additional council tax charge could see a far higher annual cost to Londoners being levied (I think in Westminster that works out at an average additional £75 per annum, and that’s one of the lowest charging councils in London).

    If we pay these taxes what do we actually get back in return after or during 2012? Increased revenues from tourism? Yes – but what damage is the Olympics doing to our regular tourism when you consider that these ‘tourists’ are not going to be visiting The Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle or anywhere else – they’re going to be mostly just getting a ticket to the East End every day. What about better travel facilities? Well, we ALREADY HAVE better travel facilities to Stratford; we have one of the few privately run union-free and well maintained local rail networks in the UK – the Docklands Light Railway – plus the London Underground Jubilee and Central lines running into Stratford station. Oh, and the promised Javelin rail link from King’s Cross to Stratford isn’t intended to actually stop at Stratford – that’s just the marshalling yard for the Channel Link trains but it’s going to have to have a purpose-built passenger terminal built, guess at whose expense? Ok, then what about the great architectural legacy of the games? Yeah right, we’re talking about a country that built the frigging Dome for Christ’s sake. Can anyone really see someone like Livingstone coming up with an imaginative and focused idea of what to do with the Olympic Village and several hundred acres of sculpted white-water canoe course, apart from using it to re-house itinerant Palestinians and Romany folk at a massive cost to the taxpayer?

  • HJHJ

    Peter did sink lower – congratulations!

    For your information, here’s a bit about me as you seem so keen to characterise me as profligate with taxpayers money.

    I’m a physics graduate. I have 25 years commercial experience, mostly in the electronics industry in this country and abroad. I have never worked in the public sector and neither does anyone in my family, immediate or extended.

    I am the sales and marketing director of telecoms equipment start-up and I also work as a strategic marketing consultant (I’m a chartered marketer).

    I pay for my daughter’s independent education. I pay for my family’s health insurance and dentistry. I think that the state has no business running such services and I would like everyone to have the choice of independent providers.

    I don’t think the state should subsidise transport, public or private as it distorts economic decisions

    If this makes me some sort of pro-public sector zealot, then I plead guilty. I just have a rather better grasp of practicalities. In some infrastructure cases, the state has to get involved at some level, just as it does in some other areas such as defence. In some cases where public investment is being made (even if I think it’s economically unwise) it’s a good idea to take full advantage of it as some opportunities only come once in a generation.

  • Verity

    HJHJ – There is no such thing as “public investment” because there will never be any return on the investment to the public. Money is to be extracted from the public to fund something they did not ask for and which will not benefit them.

    As Julian Taylor rightly judges above, the only person in the United Kingtom who can make George Galloway look modest, unassuming and a model of financial probity is Red Ken Livingstone. If London is unfortunate enough to be lumbered with the – frankly dated – event, they will be paying for a giant farewell world performance for Ken Livingstone with a supporting cast of thousands.

  • HJHJ,
    My appologies,I am sorry If my admiration for you does not match you own.
    It is odd that you state that government has no business running health and education,but nontheless should have a flutter with taxpayers money on what is from past evidence a very expensive nag.
    Are you really saying that there is no better way of spending public money,it could not be spent on the infrastructure without the Olympics or that some other project could not be as beneficial.
    Public sector projects have a long history of being late and over budget.What will happen here, is that the contractors will drag their feet because there is a concrete deadline to get the job finished, the government will be forced to throw money at the project.
    I would have been more impressed with your credentials if you had been a Chartered Accountant.

  • Verity

    Let’s face it. The Olympics is a spectacle whose time has come and gone. It is s-o-o-o 20th Century. Same old, same old. That’s why they have to keep changing the venue. To try to make it stand out in people’s minds.

    All those thousands of athletes marching around waving, draped in their national flags. It is all so Esther Williams, somehow.

    Plus it is such a blatant boondoggle. I mean, there is no subtlety

    Why can’t each sport organise its own little egofest and not bother other people? The sports that genuinely engage the public, like soccer and cricket, would generate tremendous enthusiasm, energy and money. People who devote their lives to long jumping or foolishly swinging around on bars could organise their own little events elsewhere, with audiences adding up to a few and revenues of small amounts.

  • GCooper

    HJHJ writes:

    “The taxpayer will only partially fund the Olympics. ”

    At last. He’s finally admitted it. The games would be subsidised by the taxpayer which, because HJHJ happens to enjoy sport, he thinks is fine.

    Just take your place in the queue with all the other special interest pleaders will you? It’s the one over there, marked ‘vampires’.

  • HJHJ:

    “As I’ve mentioned, I row, so I’ll talk about that sport. Where is the public subsidy in rowing?”

    My search(Link) for “rowing” at SportEngland – the front name for the quango that hands out subsidies to people who do sports – came up with 214 results.

    So it looks like the tap is nicely open for you rowers, though I’m sure more would always be welcome.

  • HJHJ:

    “In any case, I didn’t advocate having the Olympics in London on the basis of encouraging more people doing sport – you just assumed this was my motive. I just said it’s a better deal than NHS spending”

    As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • HJHJ:

    “Let me put this another way. Why should the minority who don’t want the Olympics stop the majority that do?”

    Because the majority are forcing the minority to pay for something they don’t wish to pay for.

  • Verity

    We have no proof that “the majority” of Londoners want to have the Olympics descend on their city. None. There has not been a referendum. There was no little notice tucked in with the council tax bill: Would you be prepared to pay an extra 12% on your council tax for one year (which, naturally, we will never remove until hell freezes over) so London can host the Olympics and all its attendant ghastliness? Yes? No?

    Sophisticated extrapolations from the results of opinion polls are, as we know, rubbish. London council tax payers have not been asked whether they want to pay for more Domes, have their tube service disrupted and have hordes of people with no emotional investment in London descend on it in the name of SPORT.

    Gosh. I wonder why.

  • HJHJ

    Let’s finish this shall we.

    GCooper: I said “fund” which is not the same as “subsidise”. You can fund something expecting a return.

    There is such a thing as public investment and it quite obviously can bring a return. It’s generally not as efficient as private investment, but in the case of the Olympic park, there is huge public sector investment anyway in the area’s infrastructure (this should perhaps attract some critical comments as I’m not at all sure that the return will be worthwhile) and the Olympics is a way of likely getting a much better return, in my opinion. However, it requires some increase in funding in the first place (but the Olympics revenue it brings is pretty well guaranteed).

    It’s funny that, despite my invitation, not one of the Londoners here have posted an objection to the hugely greater investment that the taxpayer is making in the London Underground by the general taxpayer (not just London residents) which will bring no financial return whatever. I’d like my taxes cut and for users to pay the costs of the tube.

    Verity really has a problem understanding that public opinion doesn’t agree with her. Thank god she’s never likely to be in a position where the ability to misrepresent what people want is likely to be dangerous. Do I remember she wasn’t going to respond to any more posts? You can’t trust anything she says.

    Yes, Sport England has given money to rowing (and other sports) clubs. It’s funded principally by the Lottery not taxation. As I said (and the parliamentary select committee pointed out) the amount it has distributed is dwarfed by the taxation that sports clubs pay. I’d be happy to not pay the tax and not get the funding.

    Incidentally, I would have been very worried if Peter had been impressed. I’m not interested in impressing the likes of him as I have no respect for him whatever. He obviously has no worthwhile track record of anything that would deserve respect.

  • HJHJ: If you wish, I would be happy to object to my taxes being used as a subsidy (not an investment; I get no return) for the London Underground. This discussion, however, is about taxes being used as a subsidy (not an investment; see above) for the hobbies of a few ‘athletes’.

    I’d be happy to not pay the tax and not get the funding.

    Similarly, I’d be happy to not pay for the Olympics (and the London Underground) and not get them, but that option is not on offer.

    I don’t think the state should subsidise transport, public or private as it distorts economic decisions

    Yet you’re happy for ‘the state’ to subsidise sporting facilities.

    In some infrastructure cases, the state has to get involved at some level, just as it does in some other areas such as defence.

    And providing facilities for the Olympic Games is one of those cases? Why? You support the notion of zero state interference in healthcare, yet you want my tax money to fund other people’s hobbies. Why is sport a special case? Would you be happy for your tax to fund my hobby? Would it matter what that hobby happened to be?

  • “As I said (and the parliamentary select committee pointed out) the amount it has distributed is dwarfed by the taxation that sports clubs pay. “

    Do you have a reference for this? It sounds dubious. Sports subsidies are over half a billion a year. I would have thought that the vast bulk of sports related taxation is VAT on ticket prices, income tax on highly paid sportsmen, and tax on gambling.

  • Euan Gray

    Barry, thanks for raising the final point about shooting. Very good point. Britons have excelled at the sport for years but now have to go abroad to practice.

    Do they? Where is it laid down that people cannot practice sports shooting in the UK?

    EG

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I think the key point is whether a majority of Britons support the initiative to bring the Olympics to London, courtesy of your government.

    And since it was the majority of Britons who voted that same government into power, well then, it follows that it is very likely a significant portion of them would also support the bid. Labor would have done this, with all the associated tax raises, only if they were sure it wouldn’t cause a backlash in the next elections.

    It just turns out you’re the minority, and the majority have no qualms about paying more tax money and forcing you, the minority, to do the same to support the Olympic bid.

    Suck it up.

    TWG

  • On that basis, TWG, no-one should object about anything that any Government did. Are you saying that whatever an elected body does must be acceptable?

  • bullo

    Posters who are against the Olympics in London keep asserting that they are being asked to subsidise sport.

    This is not the case! The spending on actual sports facilities (and running them during the Olympics) in the bid is hugely outweighed by the revenue from TV rights and tickets alone. The question is whether the spending on the other infrastructure for this part of London is appropriate given what it will be used for AFTER the Olympics. Most of the funding is not coming from Londoners anyway.

    HJHJ has a good point when he questions the tube tax subsidy. Isn’t it a bit inconsistent that people aren’t questioning this? Or are they just motivated by an antipathy for sport?

  • Johnathan

    Euan Gray, certain forms of target shooting with pistols can no longer be carried out in Britain. Of course some forms, like clay shooting, are still permitted. (But for how long?). I recall several cases of British Olympians forced to go to France to practice.

    Check this out:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/swan/swan051503.asp

    Poor old HJHJ, admits that public investment is not as efficient as private investment. That has to be the understatement of the week, nay, the fargin century.

    To repeat, sport is not a core state activity, like defence. For goodness sake, how can we expect to reduce the Leviathan of the state if we get bamboozled into things like the Games?

  • It is one thing to subsidise the tube,whilst not the ideal way of financing,without the tube London would grind to a halt,it is irrelevant whether the Olympics are staged there or not.
    London is the main economic engine of the nation the Olympics are a pastime.
    I have no objection to those who who give honest reasons,they like sport,it would be a prestige event etc,but please stop trying to sell the event as a public good,the damn thing is going to cost vast amounts of money,It will make a loss new sports stadia are not in everyones interest.
    Why not just spend the money on the infrastructure in the first place.
    Sports fans are welcome to their jollies,but don’t blackmail me with the fitness garbage,most of those watching will be sat there with a beer.Don’t try and cajole me by saying it is to my advantage to pay for your entertainment.
    Why not be honest and just say you want it,then either save up for it or get the TV companies to sponsor it.

  • Verity

    TW Guy – No. The majority of Britons most assuredly did not vote for Blair and the Trots. Around 24% voted for them. So why don’t you suck it up?

    HJHJ says, “Let’s finish this” as though this were a meeting which he was chairing. We’ll finish it when we feel like it without direction from you, thanks, HJHJ.

    It is glaringly obvious, but the reason Londoners – by and large – don’t object to having their tax pounds spent on the tube is …………. it will benefit them and make their lives a little less harrassed!! Du-uh. People vote for things that they perceive as a good deal for them personally. My guess, and it is only a guess as there has been no referendum, is, Londoners would be very wary indeed of voting for any more Domes. For those who haven’t noticed, this is a very inept government. Everything they touch crumbles under their hand.

    Misappropriating taxpayers’ money, which should be spent on running the city and improving real infrastructure, not Domes, should be a crime. In fact, it probably is.

    Even the Battersea Dogs’ Home, which is a truly worthwhile cause, is supported by donations only. Not tax. The public donated £10.5m in 2004. If people believe in something enough, they will support it. If Red Ken was confident that the citizenry of London wanted the Olympic circus in their city, he would have asked them. He didn’t.

  • bullo

    Verity and Peter have avoided HJHJ’s point about the tube – it’s not Londoners who are paying for it through their taxes, it’s the whole country. If it’s so essential to London, why aren’t Londoners asked to pay for it? Why a subsidy? If it’s so essential wouldn’t they be prepared to pay for it through fares or their own taxes, not nationally-applied taxes? If this made it too expensive to use, then the most efficient economic option would be to shut it down and for people to travel around London less. Why does the country’s “economic engine” require such a subsidy?

    As I’ve pointed out, the Olympics revenue will more than cover the cost of the sports facilities. So why does everyone keep repeating that there will be a public subsidy for the sports facilities – this just isn’t true. The TV companies do effectively (although indirectly) sponsor these facilities (they can’t do it directly because the Olympics rules don’t allow it). Does anyone have any figures on the return on investment on the general infrastructure spending associated with the bid? Without this info you really can’t assess whether it’s worthwhile.

    Public sector investment is not always less efficient than private sector. Various studies of the economics of such things (I have an economics degree) demonstrate this. As a rule of thumb, countries which spend up to about 25% of GDP by the public sector grow faster than those that spend less. The reason why they grow slower after this level may be that they typically start spending lots on complicated social security systems (for example) rather than infrastructure and the like, or it may be that 25% is the right level above which you’re gilding the infrastructure lily with money that would best be spent in the free market. Unfortunately, control experiments are very difficult in economics.

  • Verity

    bullo – your post was a little provincial. I haven’t “avoided” HJHJ’s point about the tube. I have no idea and no interest in how the London Underground system is “funded”. In fact, I thought it was self-supporting. But please don’t explain the details to me because I’m not interested in the London tube.

    I’m interested in the fact that it seems to be acceptable for governments to fund special interest groups. The Olympics is a special interest group and will benefit no one but the tourist industry and Harrod’s. It will disturb the lives of everyone else. But as it is in the inexplicably holy name of “Sport”, this fascist use of other people’s taxes to give travelling Aussie, Greek, American, whatever, sports spectators a good time. And cause life to be hellish for London residents, living on London’s tiny narrow streets. If the London taxpayers had voted for it by 48.999% against 47.99999% noes, then I wouldn’t be arguing. The majority rules.

    But. they. were. not. asked.

  • Johnathan

    Bullo seems to be confusing a number of issues here. The opponents of public projects like the Olympics do not deny that there might be economic side benefits; the problem is that money taken in tax is at the expense of something else. Economics being the study of the allocation of scare resources which have alternate uses, it behoves those who favour public spending to show they can get the biggest bang for our buck by spending on stuff like the Games rather than say, roads or whatnot.

    I just don’see sports or the arts as subjects for public spending, which is out of control already in Britain and projected to get worse.

  • Verity

    bullo – I didn’t intend to snap at you and do apologise.

    There was no indication earlier that the London tube wasn’t paid for by Londoners. Had there been so, I wouldn’t have included it in my comments. That the tube isn’t paid for by Londoners isn’t germane to the argument, which about forced funding of the Olympics, however, because it is is the special interest of a small cadre of people who will benefit from it.

  • Bullo,Of course I mentioned the Tube,read.You are not comparing like with like,this is the old “bread or circuses” approach.

    Without the tube London would cease to function,if the vast amount of tax revenue generated by London is considered,allowing the tube to collapse is insane.Yes funding could be done a better way,but the main point is that the tube is essential,hosting the Olympics is not.
    Revenue generated by the event are projected,just as was the revenue for the Dome,they are not actual figures.
    All these business plans paint a rosy for projects,I don’t want figures from project designers and marketing consultants,I want the bottom line from accountants and quantity surveyors and the like.I also want the figures from the last three Olympics,did any of them even cover costs?

  • bullo

    Verity, HJHJ did indeed point out quite clearly earlier that the tube is heavily subsidised from national taxes. And if it’s essential to London business, why won’t they pay for it?

    I also don’t understand your point about there not being a referendum. Referenda are very rare in the UK. Why on this one specific thing? I remember considerable opinion soundings being made before the bid and they were all very positive both in London and nationally. Elected representatives then made the decision. If an opinion poll can get a biased answer depending on the question, so can a referendum surely, so what’s your point? I also don’t quite understand how, from another country, you know that Londoners consider it a monstrous imposition. Have you any evidence for this assertion? Sydneysiders didn’t.

    Peter says the revenue is projected just like the dome. This is not a reasonable comparison – there is a huge amount of data on the likely revenue from previous Olympics. We know the TV companies will pay and that this will cover the costs of the sports facilities – this is one are about which we can be pretty confident.

    Johnathon, as an Economics graduate I really do understand the point you make – I wasn’t confusing issues. But if I understand correctly, this is currently a huge derelict area of London and it will be redeveloped and will require infrastructure whatever happens. As we know, it’s very difficult to calculate return on this type of spending, but we also know that some government decisions not made on a strictly ROI basis do, on the whole, benefit the economy and overall generate a return. If there is a certain public infrastructure budget, can you demonstrate that this is a worse investment than subsidizing the tube rather than making tube users pay the full cost? If you can, then I’ll happily agree with you.

    I’m agnostic about this (and largely playing devil’s advocate), but if you’re against the bid on economics grounds I’m just pointing out that it is a far more complex issue than you’re making out.

  • Pete_London

    Bullo –

    I also don’t quite understand how, from another country, you know that Londoners consider it a monstrous imposition. Have you any evidence for this assertion?

    It’s a monstrous imposition.

    Peter –

    Of course, the Dome!

    I can see it now. It’s 1997 and Bullo, HJHJ and the rest of the patsies are urging us to support it. Telling us how wonderful it will be, about how this will regenerate a derelict area of London, about how it will cost a ‘mere’ couple of hundred million but, but, but it will make money! The vast crowds will ensure a return on investment! Look! The forecasts, the business plans show that it will!

    Can’t we just disgard our blinkers and trust in Blair’s vision? Can’t we see the sense in leaving the decision up to Him? Look you fools, Blair romped home with a huuuuge majority. That’s proof if ever it were needed that the people of Britain were voting for the Dome!

  • Verity

    Bullo. I am not “from another country”. I am British, posting from another country. If I lived in Aberdeen (OK, that’s arguably in another country) or Leeds or Chorley, I would assuredly be equally uninterested in how the London underground is financed. This is doubtless why my eye slid unreadingly over HJHJ’s explanation of how the London tube operates – because it is not germane to the argument.

    Peter, above, made an intelligent and reasonable request: what are the figures from the last three Olympics? By how much did the costs projected by the project designers, marketeers and other interested parties, over run? Were the costs of any of those three Olympics covered by the revenues? This will be hard to determine as they will be buried in figures placed in misleading columns, but there should at least be some indication of the volume of the loss.

  • dick

    Since Athens lost tons of money on the last Olympics and whoever hosts the Olympics next, especially if that country is involved inthe Coalition forces, is going to have a terrible time with the dingbats who will protest the war while they are there interfering with the the people who want to actually see the Olympics events in all their overpriced glory, then I would not want anything to do with this fancy dog and pony show of athletics. Why anyone would want to watch a mesomorphic “amateur (in your dreams)” athlete go out there and act like an organ grinder’s monkey for the crowds is beyond my ken but I guess some people like it. I would rather pull my fingernails out with pliers but then that is just me, most definitely not a sports fan.

    I would also hate to do anything to puff up Red Ken in any way, though how one would puff that little bantam rooster up any further I really can’t imagine. I am, however, sure that the Olympics would be a bigger boondoggle than the Dome was and with even less money resulting. Some would do well out of the Olympics. However, I would bet that the private funding would not come close to paying for the whole mess and the public would have to make up the difference. Then those who made out well would take their money and run and the public would have to make up the rest. Red Ken would find some new method of extorting money from the put-upon citizens of London to pay for it while crowing about how much of a cultural achievement it was. Forget that the public didn’t want it, couldn’t afford to see the events, couldn’t get to work on time because of the overloading of the resources of the city, couldn’t go out at night because of all the tourists and tourist schemes. Think “a night on the tiles at the latest London hotspots” for only 75 pounds or maybe 150 euros by that time. Is that what you really want for your city?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Verity-Yeah, then why is Blair and his cronies still in power? Silence means a helluva consent, you know, especially in a democracy where people are given the choice to vote. If nobody wanted to vote for whoever against Labor, that means that they weren’t that significantly opposed to Labor, and would just have to listen to whatever that 24% wants!

    All because the others didn’t vote against Labor.

    That’s how a democracy works, like it or not. The voting faction that wins gets the say, and to hell with everybody else.

    And that means Blair and his gang think(probably correctly) that they have carte blanche to do a lot of stuff. And even if Blair steps down, Labor probably believes the electorate backlash from the enormous cost of hosting the Olympics isn’t going to be significant.

    It’s up to you and the others who disagree to prove them wrong, but I’m sorry to say I don’t have much confidence.

    Weasel Bearder-I’m just stating the facts, I’m not agreeing with it. In fact, that’s been my major quibble with democracy, being that people in masses are, in fact, dupes, mobs with lowest-common-denominator intelligence. God knows how many elected governments made incredibly dumb decisions that their people wholly supported at first, only to have the electorate later turn on the government for false promises when it was their own fucking fault.

    Being a voter means never having to say I’m sorry, I’m wrong. It’s the guy I voted for who’s always at fault for conning me.

    TWG

  • Verity

    The Wobbly Guy, apart from the amusement of being lectured on democracy by a Singaporean, there is the fact that the British people at the last election were essentially voting for “None of the above”. Had there been a box to tick, None would have received the most votes.

    That is not consent.

    Second, do you understand that, unlike Singapore, the national government is not the city government? The Olympics circus is nothing to do with the Blair. It is powered by the mayor of London, an old time, backroom wheeler dealer by the name of Ken (formerly Red Ken, aka the Cheeky Chappy) Livingstone, who has never seen a scam he couldn’t love. He has even used taxpayers’ money to officially entertain George Galloway. The London Olympics in 2012 – god willing it will not happen – is being pencilled in as Ken’s last farewell concert.

    Again, this is being proposed by the government of London. It has nothing to do with the national government.

  • If Bullo had read my post correctly,I deliberately sais TAX Revenue,If he studied economic he should be able to understand that London and the South East dormitory towns are the wealth creating engine room of Britain.Bring London to a stand still and Brown’s fiscal planning is down the tubes.
    It is in any case comparing apples and oranges one is an essential public transport system and the other an entertainment.
    If there are a majority of sports fans who want to watch the event ,put your money where your mouth is and issue a bond which will underwrite any loses,if it is a financial success the you make a profit,if not at least you will get that feel good factor which comes from having done the right thing.It is after all supposed to be an amateur event.

  • The Sun-Herald reported on August 16 1992 that “… every modern Olympic Games, except Los Angeles in 1984, has left the host city out of pocket”. It’s this history that is one of the major causes of concern and the fact that any budget forecast of revenue and expenditure seven years ahead could provide at best an “educated guess” Perhaps it’s for this reason that the figures seem to change so often.

    In the Financial Review, columnist Peter Robinson wrote, “if you look at the hangover the residents of Barcelona are suffering today as they realise they will be paying off the Olympics for the next five years you realise the cost involved will be too great for Sydney to handle. It’s as simple as that”.

    Senior economic columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, Max Walsh, wrote on June 25, 1993, “For the sake of clarity it should be pointed out that there are three separate budgets. The first is the bid marketing budget. The second budget is the one we hear most about. This is the IOC-based budget for staging the Games. According to the Sydney organisers, the cost will be $1.697 billion. Revenue is expected to be $1.703 billion, resulting in a $6 million profit. Any shortfall in this budget will be met by the NSW taxpayer.

    “The third budget is any additional cost associated with staging the Olympics on a new or upgraded infrastructure. It’s this particular budget that led to a loss of more than US$l billion at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Barcelona has also been left with a very large bill for this budget. So far, the NSW government has been busy telling everybody no expenditure will be required in this area — a proposition that anybody who has tried to drive from the CBD to the Olympic site in Homebush knows to be ludicrous.”

    Walsh indicated in this article that the Sydney Games budget has serious problems in raising the target revenues for television rights, sponsorship fees and merchandising. In summing up his article Walsh wrote “… the whole Sydney prospectus when compared with the targets of Atlanta (1996 host city) and what has been actually achieved so far is outrageously optimistic. There are potential shortfalls of hundreds of millions of dollars and that’s before we come to the hidden agenda of the third budget — that for infrastructure.”

  • Verity

    Thank you, Peter.

  • bullo

    Pete_london – I won’t respond to your post as it was abusive.

    Peter, you said “If Bullo had read my post correctly,I deliberately said TAX Revenue” I’m sorry I completely missed where you said this and in what context so I’ve no idea of your point. Could you explain please?

    Let’s cover some of the points made in the article above. First, the funding mechanism for the London bid is totally different from any other bid – for a start most of the money comes from the lottery, not the local taxpayer (I’m not a fan of the lottery, incidentally, but you have a choice about buying a ticket). Secondly, I don’t dispute (and neither does anyone as far as I can tell) that the host city has ended up paying out more than the direct revenue it received from most modern Olympics (“out of pocket”, if you like). But the above analysis totally ignores any recognition of the long term value of the favourable publicity or of the infrastructure to the city (and most of it is not just sports facilities, which as I have pointed out is more than covered by expected revenues).

    So there’s a big question here about the cost of the infrastructure versus its long term value. You haven’t addressed this issue. Evaluating the economic worth of infrastructure is a hugely complex and I could give you chapter and verse on investments in the past which although supposedly disastrous on the timescale of investors have proved hugely beneficial to the overall economy and in the long term.

    Max Walsh’s article it would appear to have been written seven years before the Sydney Olympics. Did he write an article afterwards admitting that he was wrong about the games having trouble raising the target revenues? In fact, these came in well above budget (although so did the total cost of the games at US$2.5bn) [FYI TV revenues were about 30% higher than budget at US $1.3bn (the IOC got a cut though) and this was roughly matched by sponsorship and ticket income]. Despite the well-publicised financial troubles of Stadium Australia many respected commentators have since concluded that for Australia overall, the games were a huge economic success. I’d rather trust these than the opinions of a nespaper columnist written years beforehand.

    Here’s what Tim Harcourt, chief economist of the Australian Trade Commission wrote about the Sydney Olympics (writing in a non-official capacity, i.e. these are his personal views):

    “Winning Medals and Markets – An Economist’s Guide to the Sydney Olympics”

    “The first thing to note is that Australia will receive a significant economic boost from the staging of the Sydney games themselves. There will be direct benefits to exports in terms of tourism, sponsorship fees and media broadcast rights. The overall boost to export receipts is estimated to be equivalent to 1 % of GDP in the September quarter 2000. But the benefits are not confined to the two weeks themselves. The overall impact is estimated to add an additional $6.5 billion to Australia’s GDP over the 12 years from 1994-95 to 2005-06 with an additional 1.5 million tourists between 1998 and 2004. In the build-up to the games the construction projects were worth $3.3 billion providing an additional 7,500 jobs per year over the 1994-95 to 2005-06 period. (Harcourt, 1999)”

    Now I’m absolutely sure that you could post a counter view saying that he benefit was/is less than the cost (but I could post lots more confirming that the games were a huge economic benefit to Australia, for example, the Arthur Anderson report). But my point is simply that the answer is not clear cut as to warrant your somewhat furious attack on the economics of the bid. Anyone commenting on this has to duly consider the pros and cons and weigh them up dispassionately to even hope to come to a balanced conclusion and a view of the possible upsides and downsides. Can you honestly say you have done this?

    Incidentally, my view is that the Athens Olympics probably were/are a bad deal economically for Greece and Athens.

  • Verity

    Pete_London, although he is more than capable of speaking for himself, is, I think, getting fed up with going around in circles, and of those with opposing points of view totally ignoring the main point, as we all are.

    You write: But the above analysis totally ignores any recognition of the long term value of the favourable publicity Podunk, Idaho may need the publicity. Rajasthan may need the publicity. Monterrey may need the publicity. London and Paris are unimaginably rich, powerful, ancient cities which have been the seats of government of the two most influential countries in the world (before the US rose in the last century, obviously; now they’re two of three).

    The notion that London or Paris need to get out there and make a name for themselves is beyond laughable.

    And to put your faith in projections of designers and marketing consultants for an event that may or may not take place seven years hence when it was proved over and over again in the last century that their projections (save LA, where they’re accustomed to thinking big and delivering) were horribly wrong is, as Benjamin Franklin said about a second marriage, a triumph of hope over experience.

    The Olympics, if Olympics there must be, should be privately funded. End of story. If you’re that confident, sell bonds. I notice no one ever has.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The more I think about this, the more convinced I am that the Games should remain in Greece.

  • Bulla Ttrade Commission,Really?
    If you don’t read other peoples posts don’t comment on them
    “Four years after the Sydney Olympics, under-used venues are costing taxpayers $32 million (in U.S. dollars) a year to keep afloat, and the government expects that some venues will need at least another decade to break even.”
    Dome again!

  • Verity

    I think Greece too , Jonathan, and much, much scaled down. The circus has had its day; it’s looking drab and used.

    We’ve had instant worldwide TV for 30 years. Is the world going to feel the slightest frisson watching the 50-strong team from Malawi marching round some arena somewhere – again – smiling and waving at crowds (who may or may not be there on opening day, let’s face it – they have to take tight shots)? Is the home TV viewer with a beer in his hand going to be piqued by one more squadron of blazers? He saw all those blazers four years ago. And four years before that.

    It’s got a dusty air of used merchandise about it. It’s over.

    Let them hold the core events in their spiritual home, Greece. And other events spread over other cities on a rotating basis perhaps. It would be manageable. Without a four year decision-making, bribe-gouging period of attention by the IoC.

    If people would feel cheated of the spectacle, let one city be chosen to hold the Olympics Spectacle every four years. Not the events. Just let them stage the opening and closing ceremonies on worldwide TV. After all, what does it matter, with link-ups? But let the major events take place in Greece.

    The Olympics cannot stagger on like this. Taxpayers have wisedd up to the stream of false promises. They’re turning sour. Which is why there are no referenda offered – ever.

    Mark my words. This will be the last Olympics in its current format.

  • HJHJ

    Good to see Bullo demolish the ‘case’ of the likes of Verity
    and Peter (who rudely declined to provide a politely-requested clarification of a very confused post of his).

    They just had no answer whatever.

    Strangely, Verity, TV revenues for the Olympics have increased at a staggering pace (the Beijing rights have already been sold at an even higher figure than Athens).
    I just can’t understand this in the light of Verity’s revelation that viewer interest in the Olympics is waning.

    Why, Peter couldn’t find a post-Sydney assessment that didn’t say that economically they were a good investment (there are a ton of independent post-Sydney reports on the web which confirm its excellent economic return). So he resorts to (subsequently proven wrong) journalists’ opinions from 1993 and a narrow point about the cost of under-used venues, conveniently ignoring the wider benefits which accrued. Try asking the population of Sydney and NSW whether they were a good deal and then them tell that they’re complete idiots and you know better. I hope you can run fast.

    Pathetic.

  • Bullo

    I am quite temperate in my posts and I can’t quite understand the venom here. Surely the point is to present a well constructed argument or comment and not to hurl abuse just because someone doesn’t agree with you.

    Verity, you quote just part of one of my sentences above but don’t address the substance of my comments. You have a perfect right not to like the Olympics – fair enough. But this does not mean it’s reasonable to rubbish a perspective on the economic impact – unless of course you have a reasoned view on the economics (and preferably some quantitative analysis to support your view). If your view is simply based around dislike of the Olympics just say so!

    One or two commentators have taken the line that if it’s economically attractive, then it necessarily would/could/should done by the private sector, as an absolute position. I’m afraid that this position would not be supported by any economist as an unvarying rule. Economists differ substantially on public vs private investment decisions, but I know of not one that says that the answer is that public sector investment is always less efficient. It just ain’t so.
    If it were just a sports event, most, if not all, economists would not favour public sector investment. However, it is far more complex than that and so to take a position based on doctrine would be very unwise.

  • bullo

    Having said the above I should add that I’m not saying that the decision to bid for the Olympics was not more political than economic. But that doesn’t automatically make it a bad decision economically.

    I have some faith that economics was considered, however. If I remember correctly, the government took some time to decide to support the bid and they were pretty hostile to the pro-bid Mayor (Livingstone) at the time, so it wasn’t done to make him more popular.

  • You regard yourselves as graduates,but you have not even learned how to read,or are too lazy to look for information in someones post.HJHJ I am not doing Bullo’s home work for him especially sine I suspect that he ignored what was written to make his point
    Bullo are you sure you know anything about economics or are you just living up to your name? Also it really doesn’t do to go bragging about degrees on sites like this,they tend to be heaving with degrees.

    Athens lost a great deal of money why not provide some figures on the host cities that got an excellent return on other peoples money.
    You have to make a case,you are the ones trying to mug the general public, using the computers at work it would seem.
    Come on HJHJ you are the big tycoon,you know all about making a presentation,Bullo will make the quantative analysis,I hope they taught him how to read a balance sheet.

  • Verity

    Peter – None of them has a degree in reading comprehension. We have said in literate language and we have descended to words of one syllable and sentences without subordinate clauses – it is fascist to create a duty on the part of the taxpayer to subsidise other people’s hobbies.

    To repeat: it is taken as completely normal, whereas it is lunacy, that the taxpayers of London, and doubtless Paris, NYC and Moscow, will be strangely happy for their cities to use their hard-earned cash to provide entertainment for a discrete body of people – sports lovers.

    We have asked time and again: why has sports been elevated above, say, Crufts, but on a worldwide basis? Or photographing wildlife? Or, indeed, having a party but with the sports left out? To those arguing that they will get a return on their (unwilling) investment, if you’re so sure, let them issue bonds so people can buy them of their own free will in the expectation of a return.

    It will never happen. Chartered marketer HJHJ knows it will never happen. Bullo knows it will never happen. But HJHJ becomes apopoletic when other people point out the gross unfairness of forcing non-sports fans to support the Olympics for one simple reason: he wants it! All the Hearty Henrys want it. They want your money to finance their hobby.

    And they become abusive when what they regard as their right, is threatened by people with a somewhat broader perspective. Hearty Henry isn’t just involved in an argument: He is incensed!

    I have hesitated to return Hearty Henry’s personal abuse because he is sound on Tony Blair, so he’s got one screw that is not loose, but he is a very controlling individual who cannot brook disagreement. I am going to make a wild guess that he is not a cat person. I would say a large, obedient, adoring, hearty dog would be part of HJHJ’s household.

    Bullo, one more time: do not approach other people’s posts with a preconceived idea of what we are going to say. Answer what we write, rather than setting up straw men to cleverly demolish. I never said TV audiences for the Olympics were diminishing. I would imagine they’re growing, because it’s less hassle, and cheaper, to get a beer out of the fridge and turn on the TV, then go and do whatever you were doing, and run to watch the TV when you hear a lot of cheering going on. Or sitting in a bar with their mates and looking up and cheering every now and then, then going back to the peanuts. Cheaper and infinitely less boring.

    They will have to change the way this event is run because taxpayers are getting wise. And with plasma screens, you get a much better sense of immediacy on TV than actually being there. And you can watch in your pajamas if you feel like it.

    Enjoy your sports. Or doing embroidery. Or birdwatching. Or going to the circus. Just do not expect a taxpayer to have extra money taken out of his budget so you can indulge yourself. This is not democratic. It’s fascist. And this is the point we have been arguing.

  • Bullo

    Peter, are you always this abusive? I’m afraid that I can’t help taking it as a reflection of your intellectual level as you really haven’t tried to make an intellectually coherent case or discuss any of the points I made. I mentioned my economics degree simply to explain that the economic issues are really very complex.

    I have tried to politely make my points, using clear arguments and I was not especially one-sided. I did not ignore your comment – I just could not find where it was or in what context, so I asked precisely so that I could address it. It would have been quicker for you to explain than to write abuse.

    I will only respond to anything you write henceforth if it is polite and has proper intent to explore the issue.

    Your behaviour astounds me. I hope you’re not this unpleasant in person.

  • A Neutral

    As a neutral reading this, er, discussion, can I make a few points:

    The pre-Olympic supporters have made a pretty good case and have addressed (although not necessarily demolished) pretty much all the points put against them.

    The anti-Olympics group just keep accusing them of not addressing their points (untrue) whilst not answering any questions or factual counterexamples to their own opinions. Sometimes they make ridiculous arguments about crimewaves and fascism.

    Verity and Peter (in particular) then decided that (i) it’s not only fair to throw insults but (ii) to accuse their opponents of doing so first (laughably). I find their behaviour very very poor.

    As an agnostic, I’m more inclined to believe that the Olympic bid is a good idea after reading this blog. Sorry, but the antis had their chance and blew it.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Verity-It’s impossible for any city to bid successfully for a major sporting event if the government isn’t pushing for it.Why, the London bid site had Blair exhorting his party to get behind the bid!

    And Ken, as a member of the Labour party, was also elected, right? Well then, obviously enough of his electorate thinks he’s up to the job. If his past failures have yet to register on them, then the people of London will just have to take whatever happens.

    What if there was an ‘against’ vote option in the elections? Hmmm… the numbers of votes counted ‘against’ a party would be deducted from the votes for that party… Anybody has anything on this crazy idea?

    Bottom line, there are a series of objections to the Games.

    1. People being forced to sponsor an activity which they are completely not interested in.

    2. Direct economic cost vs direct benefits(tourist expenditure, construction industry stimuli etc) of hosting the Games. From historical precedent, the costs seem to have almost always outweighed the benefits, though increased globalization might have changed this.

    3. Indirect economic costs in the form of traffic hold-ups, inconveniences during the construction, etc. And of course, indirect economic benefits, which I cannot think of at the moment. But this is most certainly the part where it gets complex.

    Bulbo-You sidestepped the issue when you said that the bid was supported by the lottery. Yeah, but that’s only the bid. What about the construction and other stuff? Supported by the lottery, or by private companies too? And the Olympics is actually just a sporting event, so what’s so complex about deciding right there and then that public investment is a bad idea? Especially when there are minorities(or perhaps majorities) opposed to forking out any amount of money for such trivial activities?

    Of course, there are controversies to any publicly funded sporting/leisure facility which can be enjoyed by the public which paid for it, and that is very, very relevant now. The non-inclined will always be complaining that their money was taken from them for such purposes when they themselves would never use it. You can’t really blame people for not wanting to pay for something they didn’t want.

    Still, the same can be said for anything paid for by the government using taxpayer money, because there’ll most probably be a faction of taxpayers who regard it as a waste of their money.

    TWG

  • Pete_London

    Bullo

    Waving your qualification around is deeply unimpressive. I’ve studied economics at under and postgrad levels. The most useful lesson was realising that this was nothing more than an introduction to the subject. You are slightly less distant from being an economic expert than you were before you began your degree.

    Your argument is purely technical: if it is feasible and the numbers stack up then it is good and we must bid. Well, as I said above, even if the games in London were guaranteed to make a vast profit I would still argue against.

    Our arguments are not just technical, they are arguments encompassing political, social and cultural reasons. I have no interest in what the financial models say or how this compares the London Underground. Pull your head up, read what others write and actually think about the opposing arguments.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    I think Johnathan delivered the knockout blow some way back – both ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ have stated that taxpayers will have to subsidise this event. As a libertarian, I believe:

    TAXPAYERS. SHOULD. NOT. BE. SUBSIDISING. THIS. KIND. OF. EVENT.

    We are getting bogged down in the minutiae. HJHJ, if you’re right and a majority of Londoners or Britishers want the Games (from anecdotal evidence collected I’d disagree, but I understand that’s not the most accurate measure of opinion), well they can all cough up and fund it out of their own pockets on an individual basis. If they don’t want to cough up, well, tough, no Games.

    I know there is a substantially large portion of the British community that *does not* want their tax money funding the Olympics. From a libertarian point of view, you have said nothing to convince me that these people should pay for the entertainment of others.

    You have debated eloquently for the staging of an event you obviously believe in. That’s great; I admire people who are passionate. However (and you can argue what you will about the intelligence of the Games bid) at the end of the day, accepting anything less than full private funding for something like this is the mark of the statist.

  • Verity

    Thank you, Suffering! Very eloquently put! And what you say is inarguable on a libertarian site.

    Yet the level of anger and hostility Pete_London, Peter and I have encountered is out all proportion to anything we have written.

    No one wrote that the Games should be banned. No one said London should not have bid for them. All we said was that those who wanted them should finance them 100%. This simple, lean point has never been addressed by anyone with an opposing view.

  • Neither Bullo not HJHJ have a clue as to what the Olympics will cost,furthermore neither does anyone else.
    Taking into consideration the overrun on a large numbers of public/private schemes there is not much chance that this can be brought in on budget.
    Nobody has a clue as to what wage costs will be in five years time,what the level of inflation will be or the cost of money.
    One thing is certain,if the project doesn’t look like being completed on time the government will do what it did with the Dome, throw money at the project.
    I very much doubt that any contractor will expose themselves to such fiscal uncertainty without a government guarantee
    Does anyone think that with politicians egos involved costs will be considered?
    It is good we have now synthesised a point of principle,that public expenditure on the tube,that essential part of the infrastructure, is a bad thing but public expenditure on the infrastucture for the Olympic games is a good thing.
    It is heartening to see such immaculate logic.
    Bulla,Bollo.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Verity – I agree. The argument is obvious; staging a grand spectacle like the Olympic Games is clearly not commercially sound, and therefore will sooner or later fall under the auspices of government. In terms of the debate, we have wandered onto the turf of the sportsmen, and are fighting them for their own territory. We won’t win there – they know it too well, and they can wrap us up in their funny world. Time to retreat back to the sound, overarching principles that underpin the philosophy of this blog and libertarianism in general. Step back, and damn, this is an open and shut case for anyone who considers themselves a libertarian.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    ARGH! Just re-read my post.

    Pardon the NuLabour jargon there – can the overarching principle underpin the philosophy??? Over, under, whatever.

  • GCooper

    ISFMA writes:

    “Step back, and damn, this is an open and shut case for anyone who considers themselves a libertarian.”

    Ugh! Have you been on a course, Suffering?

    All joking aside, you are quite correct. I lost interest in this debate once the only relevant point had been established (before Bullo’s diversionary intervention).

    The sports fans want a handout and will stop at nothing to get it.

    That established, what’s left to argue about? However many tantrums they throw, they still belong with all the other people trying to get their hands in others’ pockets.

  • Sadly Neutral,they have not,what we have are private individual from the Trade Commision stating a projected figure,a great deal of assertion but no concrete figures.
    There seems to be a misapprehension about estimated and actual revenue or some flmflammery to obfuscate the fact that going on previous evidence the Olympics will cost us money.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Just looking at the e-mail addresses, Bullo and HJHJ seem to be one and the same. Am I the only one who thinks it’s rather bizarre that HJHJ would say

    Good to see Bullo demolish the ‘case’ of the likes of Verity

    when he knows that he is, indeed, Bullo?

  • I'm suffering for my art

    See bullo’s e-mail address on his post logged on June 10, 2005 01:05 PM

    Compare to HJHJ’s e-mail address.

    I wonder who A_Neutral is.

  • GCooper

    Nice forensic work there, Suffering.

    And yes, posts like A_Neutral’s are always best treated with scepticism.

    It seems Mr Jenkins has an aggression problem. Good job he’s only a rower. If he were a karate type, he might be dangerous.

  • ISFMA,
    That is what I like to see the true Olympic spirit of sportsmanship.It is worth a couple of billion to foster more of this kind of thing.

  • GCooper,
    A Neutral Babcock is a fake as £9 note, far too specific in his points and came rigth after the Waitrose shelf stacker.

  • Verity

    The Basil Fawlty of the customer service counter.

  • Verity,
    Living in Blairitania make one a little suspicious,but did this have a whiff of the ZanuLab attack machine about it? Testing the waters for the debacle ahead.

  • Verity

    Peter, in fact, I don’t think so in this instance. I have encountered HJHJ before, before Stephen Pollard disabled his Comments facility. He was very aggressive then, too.

    He flew into a fit regarding a restaurant review that Pollard had written, that was actually very funny and I remember HJHJ’s fury that someone would spend £800 on a meal for two people. He thought Pollard was showing off and took the whole thing unbelievably personally. He was almost speechless with fury.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is a Za-NuLab trial balloon.

  • Verity

    Also, Peter, I don’t think even Za-NuLab people with an IQ of 80 – in other words, the cabinet – and that’s collectively – would be stupid enough to think that a libertarian site would be full of arguments for and against the Olympic bid!

  • Verity,
    I find it odd that a company director should not know the cost of dining out, especially one who lives in an area with the highest council tax in the known Universe.The sentiment is very Old Lab.
    A little vignette
    Counting the costs

    While the Games are the responsibility of the IOC, however, their legacy is not. Host cities are contractually obliged to bear the costs of any debt incurred as a result of hosting the Olympics according to IOC rules. This is particularly problematic since, with the exception of Los Angeles where regeneration was never considered an issue, the modern Olympics have consistently lost money. The 1976 Montreal Games resulted in debts of around £600 million, whilst the cost of the 2000 Sydney Olympics to the public purse was closer to £800 million, over twice the initial estimate. These figures look certain to be dwarfed by the costs of the Athens Games, which could top 10 billion euros according to some estimates – five times the original budget. Panos Totsikas, coordinator of Campaign Anti-2004, notes that the public purse is the hardest hit: ‘The money comes from public funds, and because there’s been extensive borrowing by the state the future generations could suffer. This is a normal story in other Olympic cities too but with Greece being small country, and additional security costs, the debt here is particularly high.’

    The record of sporting mega-events in Britain is a poor one too. Sheffield Council is still carrying an annual debt burden of £22m arising from the World Student Games in 1991, and the overall cost is estimated at anywhere up to £400 million. And if London’s profligate spending so far is anything to go by, the signs aren’t promising. £30 million in public funds have been allocated to the Olympic Bid alone (as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell recently confirmed), and the allocation of Lottery Funding means the true figure could be much higher.

    Rupert Litherland, a boat owner in Walthemstow and an anti-Olympics 2012 campaigner, says that this has already had detrimental effects on the sporting life of the area: ‘In terms of grassroots sport, we’re seeing money diverted in the form of Lottery grants from community sports projects to this big spectacle for elite athletes. Already in London over the last year there’s been a freeze on community sports Lottery grants in order to fund the bid. We’ll feel the ripple effects across the UK if we get the bid.’
    Called putting one oar in.

  • Verity,
    I presume that figure goes up and down depending on whether Brown or Prescott are there

  • Verity

    Peter – Very interesting, especially the bit about lottery funding. So little local community projects that will benefit local people are being left out. Now, there’s a surprise!

    I remember HJHJ specifically because he was in a total fury – thinking that Stephen Pollard was showing off that he could afford to go to NY for dinner. I thought his review of his disappointment was funny but this HJHJ came barrelling in, absolutely furious. And I specifically remember how defensive he was and how he belonged to this exclusive rowing club …

    I don’t think he’s a Za-NuLab balloon because of the level of his anger, but your instincs may be right, Peter. ISFMA’s certainly were, and as your suspicions are raised, yours could be too.

  • Pete_London

    ISFMA –

    Good work, Sherlock!

    HJHJ –

    Come back and apologise you fraud. Oh, and bring Bollo with you! Ha ha.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Disappointing. Before his bizarre and juvenile schizophrenia gambit, I was an admirer of HJHJ’s insights on other threads.

  • HJHJ

    A quick summary of the anti-Olympics case on this board for the hard of thinking:

    The public is overwhelmingly against the games. Opinion polls that clearly show the opposite are to be ignored because everyone must accept that the correct referendum result would be against.

    PUTTING. AN. ARGUMENT. IN. CAPITALS. WITH. FULL. STOPS. BETWEEN. WORDS. MAKES. A. STATEMENT. INCONTESTIBLY. TRUE.

    The fact that several independent analyses published post-Sydney demonstrated that it was highly beneficial economically are to be ignored because the facts are not to be allowed to get in the way.

    Articles about the Sydney Olympics by journalists doubting the economic return are correct even when the facts in the article turn out to be wrong.

    However often it is pointed out by proponents of the games that the games revenue will greatly exceed the cost of the sports facilities and staging the events and that the real economic argument is about whether the infrastructure spending is appropriate, repetition of the claim that it’s a sport subsidy will, of itself, make it true.

    If any evidence can be found that anything to do with the Sydney Olympics subsequently ran into financial difficulties, by the miracle of inappropriate extrapolation, the whole thing was a failure. As a demonstration that this is true, we know that the US economy is a basket case because a US company called Enron went bankrupt.

    It’s OK to subsidise transport and other infrastructure out of taxes because it’s essential to the area, but not to anywhere which may at any time be used for a sports event, even if the infrastructure is subsequently equally essential to the economy of that area.

    Complex arguments on economics weighing the pros and cons of the Olympics are a waste of time because doctrine already tells us the correct answer which is that the Olympics are undesirable.

    Those in favour of the games are only in favour because they are crazed sports fanatics who are determined to make everyone else pay for their fix. For example, the government (who took no interest in the economic or other non-sport considerations), like Livingstone (that well known sports-mad mayor) and, of course, Gordon Brown (who is never out of Lycra).

    Anyone in favour of the London Olympics is a fascist, non-libertarian hell bent on making the lives of Londoners as awful as possible.

    There are no subtleties to be discussed because the Olympics are a bad thing because we say so.

    Anyone who disagrees has explicitly asked to receive abuse so should not complain or they will be accused of dishing out abuse themselves. If all else fails, it is reasonable to FALSELY ACCUSE the poster of a message as posting under two names because this accusation invalidates any opposing argument.

    And last but not least, Verity and GCooper (especially) are not in the slightest bit aggressive. Only opponents of their point of view are and Verity’s versions of past events are always accurate and should be taken as gospel despite her delusions about herself. This last point, is in itself a convincing argument against the Olympics.

  • Verity

    Housekeeping. Clean-up on aisle three.

  • Interesting that HJHJ only ever makes assertions and never provides figures.The only ones put foreward for the Sydney Olympics ,under a pseudonym were estimated projections.
    Asserting that there are several favourable independent analysis is not the same as producing the proof

    There have been ample figures demonstrating that the Olympics is often a poisoned chalice to the host city,the argument by many here has been that the London Olympics will,judging by past records lose money and that the event might be wonderous in the extreme but we do not want to pay for it .

    As for the peurile comparisons to the tube,most here would prefer autonomous funding but unfortunately that is not the case.It is however the case that the tube is de facto and the London Olympics is not and there is a reluctance to throw more public money away.
    Never the less the analogy is a poor one,one is the arterial transport system of a great city and the other is entertainment.

    The rather nasty reference to diabetics and the implied superiority of the great sportsman was stomach churning.

    HJHJ has in his “sportsmans” desire to win used every low trick of gamesmanship,including posting under more than one name.

    Frankly Huw old chap you have lost it,perhaps you three should have a thread to yourself.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    HJHJ/Bullo -

    PUTTING. AN. ARGUMENT. IN. CAPITALS. WITH. FULL. STOPS. BETWEEN. WORDS. MAKES. A. STATEMENT. INCONTESTIBLY. TRUE.

    Despite the sarcasm, I couldn’t help but notice your failure to counter the pretty simple message contained in the relevant post.

  • GCooper

    It occurs to me that the poor dear may not even realise he was posting under two different names.

  • Well posting under two names one claiming a physics degree and the other claiming an economics degree,would be lying.No one would stoop so low to make a sale,would they?
    Of course an economics degree would enable one to talk down to the proles and explain the “complex economic arguments” odd how those two word crop up together,to those who cannot possibly understand anything of such things.
    Odd the internet,making claims to be something has the strange property of attracting someone who really does know.

  • Verity

    And none of the two or three personalities has ever addressed our objection to taxpayer money fund someone else’s hobby.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Verity – on a libertarian blog, that would be the main game (to borrow some sporting parlance). About the closest HJHJ has come to tackling that point was when he said that he’d rather fund the Olympics than the NHS. This, however, is not a refutation of your comment. The point is, the British are stuck with the NHS. A libertarian doesn’t like that, and certainly doesn’t want more of his or her tax money going to yet another government-funded enterprise, like the (very possibly) colossally expensive Olympic Games.

    We have a man who, at the start of this thread, was bordering on prissy with his yelping at Verity’s supposedly “nastily personal” attack (June 7, 2005 03:34 PM). So further down the path, I was more than a little surprised to see this apparent defender of the impersonal, rational, cool debate steadily descend into ad hominem attacks on the intelligence of his opponents. What I find even more embarrassing is that when he was called – in the same manner as he’d been hectoring other commenters who he perceived as being insulting – for his catty snipes at others what did he counter with? Guess. Here’s a hint: you’ve probably used it many a year ago in the school yard as a defence for getting into a dust up with little Johnny. That’s right – “Well, I didn’t start it!” Or, to be more precise, “Look back and see who launched into insults. It wasn’t me.” (Posted by HJHJ at June 8, 2005 06:50 PM) You must have been waiting for that first shot to be fired. It meant carte blanche with the personal attacks. Amusingly, however, you couldn’t abandon your sanctimonious tut-tut-tutting! Nope, you kept on berating others for getting personal whilst at the same time lambasting what you saw as a lack of intelligence in those who weren’t agreeing with you, or worse – “He (Peter) obviously has no worthwhile track record of anything that would deserve respect.” (Posted by HJHJ at June 9, 2005 08:22 AM) If that’s not getting “nastily personal”, then what is?

    One of the more amusing pot and kettle moments on this blog since I’ve been around.

  • Suffering,
    You have no idea how much amusement that afforded me,I’d send him my press cuttings,but that might send him completely over the edge.

  • Verity

    Agreed. When ISFMA donned a mantle and a wide-brimmed hat and leapt on to the stage pointing an accusing finger. “Aha! HJHJ, I presume! Or … may I call you … Bollo!”

    Audience: Oh!!

    Applause and ISFMA, take your bows!

  • Paul

    The best way to escape the Olympics is to broadcast how much the British desire honesty and that they don’t want to win the bid on anything but the city’s merits. Because of this strong desire, official sworn-in auditors will follow the Olympic committee, 24/7, while in London. This should guarantee that not so much as a penny falls accidentally into a committee member’s pocket.

    The French will take care of their end.

    May the best city win.