Robin Scott-Elliot: This could be a body blow to the reputation of the Games

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The Independent Online

One of the most impressive features of six years of preparation for the Olympics has been how smoothly the £9.3bn project has run.

Aside from a rumpus over ticket sales that ended with an all-but-sold-out Games, there has been little for critics to latch on to. Now a relatively trifling sum in the context of such an immense budget (the wrap around the £500m publicly funded stadium will cost Dow £7m) threatens to strike a body blow to the London Games' reputation. India matters little in Olympic sporting terms – the country's sporting stars are consistent underachievers – but if their athletes choose a boycott (a word that brings Olympic organisers out in a cold sweat) the message will resonate beyond sport.

Lord Coe and Locog, the London organisers, may have felt their hands were tied to an extent by Dow's standing as a sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, but it has become a mess of their own making. Locog raised £700m in sponsorship in the middle of tough economic times towards running the Games – public money is spent only on the construction of the venues and infrastructure – and to fall down over a fraction of that is an error of judgement, especially as there is no need for a wrap around the stadium. It's a cosmetic addition that threatens to cause some lasting damage.

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