Olympic inspectors call on London (while Paris accuses Britain of bribing IOC voters)

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The Independent Online

Preparations for the London Olympics will come under official scrutiny for the first time today with the arrival of a 17-strong inspection team from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog), will update the panel of Games experts on progress since the bid was won nine months ago, and take them on a tour of the Olympics site in Stratford.

But even before their plane touched down the trip was overshadowed by reports from France stoking the simmering row that began when London snatched the bid from Paris, the front-runner. According to a report prepared for the Paris organising committee leaked to Le Monde, at least six members of the IOC involved in the 2012 decision-making process took bribes. It claimed six of the 115 voting IOC members were "corrupt". Their votes were lost to Paris, the report says, "because of procedures which Paris could not, or would not, go along with".

Lord Coe focused instead on highlighting London's progress. He will tell the commission that early preparations are well advanced. The IOC has already praised London for being "quick out of the blocks", especially compared to the Athens Games.

Most IOC members will see the Games site for the first time because they are banned from taking trips to bidding cities. "It is the first time for many to get to know the plans and the people involved," said Alex Gilady, an IOC member of the coordination committee. "They have seen the documents; now they can check them against reality."

Preparing for the 2012 Games

VENUES

* PLEDGE: Principal new venues are the Olympic stadium, pictured right, aquatic centre and athletes' village, all within Stratford's Olympic Park.

* PROGRESS: The award-winning architect Zaha Hadid has been told to go back to the drawing board because her design for the aquatic centre is "too expensive". The start date for building the Olympic stadium has been put back.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: A public inquiry into compulsory purchase orders of about 200 business on the earmarked site begins next month. Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, is also in a bitter row with developers of the Stratford City complex which overlaps the Games site.

BUDGET

* PLEDGE: The London council taxpayer and lottery would contribute the lion's share of an Olympics budget of £2.375bn to build the Games infrastructure. In addition, Locog, the organising committee, will spend £1.5bn on management of the event but aims to recoup that through broadcast revenues, sale of marketing rights, tickets and merchandise.

* PROGRESS: The Government has recently put the Olympics budget at £3.2bn ,hoping voters in crucial local elections in London will be impressed by the investment.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: Construction costs are rising at 7 per cent, more than double the estimate in the bid document. The cost of buying the land in the Lower Lea Valley has also been underestimated. All that may concern London council taxpayers who will contribute an average of £140 each.

COMMERCIAL DEALS

* PLEDGE: Lord Coe and Co reckoned that they could turn a £100m operating profit, thanks largely to selling the marketing rights to London 2012.

* PROGRESS: Guerrilla marketing has been nipped in the bud by tough new Olympics legislation prohibiting unauthorised use of the famous interlocking rings, the logo and numerous combinations of the "O" word. As much as £750m will be raised.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: Locog, is disgruntled that the British Olympic Association and the Government are making overtures to the private sector to back their own Olympics scheme.

ATHLETES

* PLEDGE: To come fourth in the medals table for 2012, leapfrogging Australia, with up to 65 medals.

* PROGRESS: A poor performance on the track at the Athens Olympics was given a veneer of respectability by the gold-winning exploits of Dame Kelly Holmes and the sprint relay team.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: If money can buy success, improvement on the 30-medal haul in Athens seems inevitable. Some of the Chancellor's millions have already been distributed to 27 sports, with handball, volleyball, basketball, water polo and synchronised swimming.

RECRUITMENT

* PLEDGE: To have key executives in place within months of winning the bid.

* PROGRESS: As Locog chairman, Lord Coe has appointed the multimillionaire former Goldman Sachs banker Paul Deighton as chief executive, and David Higgins, who helped build the Sydney Games, to oversee the infrastructure-building as CEO of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: Over five years, the Olympics team will grow from a 100 to 3,000 employees at its Canary Wharf headquarters. Watch out for friction between Lord Coe's team and the ODA, which is more prone to government interference.

POLITICS

* PLEDGE: The three main stakeholders - the Government, the London Mayor and the British Olympic Association (BOA) - working in harmony.

* PROGRESS: When the Department of Culture, Media and Sport interfered in the elections for a new BOA chairman, relations soured. Then came a whispering campaign suggesting the DCMS was too small to handle the 2012 portfolio.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: Cross-party support is sticking. Expect Lord Coe fiercely to oppose government interference.

TRANSPORT

* PLEDGE: The Olympics would act as a catalyst to improvements on Tube and rail lines and by Games time, a vastly enhanced infrastructure would easily cope with any extra traffic.

* PROGRESS: The IOC will travel on the Channel Tunnel rail link between Stratford and King's Cross, the seven-minute journey in 2012 of the "Olympic Javelin" train.

* PROBLEMS AHEAD: Dedicated road lanes for athletes and officials will rely on the co-operation of motorists.

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