Robin Scott-Elliot: This could be a body blow to the reputation of the Games
Saturday 26 November 2011
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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