Rogge: Stadium will provide London with fantastic legacy

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The IOC president, Jacques Rogge, has expressed confidence that London's "lean but very workable budget" will deliver a successful Olympics in 2012 despite Britain's economic crisis and massive spending cuts.

"Every pound has to be really very well spent," Rogge said during a tour of Olympic facilities in east London yesterday, which included the flagship 80,000-seat main stadium. Nearly five years to the day since London was awarded the games in Singapore, Rogge also met with prime minister David Cameron at Downing Street to discuss the government's support for the Olympics.

Accompanied by London Olympics chairman Lord Coe, Rogge visited the £537m Olympic Stadium in Stratford and helped fit the 2012th seat into place.

It was the International Olympic Committee leader's first tour of the stadium since 2008, when construction had just started. Now, the external structure of the stadium is complete, with 14 huge light towers in place, a roof cover nearing completion and the black and white plastic seats being installed at a rate of 700 a day.

"I'm very glad to see how far this has advanced," said Rogge. "It is intimate and beautiful. It combines both qualities. I think it is going to leave a great legacy for the city. They have done a magnificent effort and have worked extremely hard in a difficult economic environment but they have achieved a lot. They are on schedule. They are on budget. This bodes well for the Games."

The Olympic Delivery Authority, the body responsible for building the venues for the games, had its funding cut by £27m in June as part of the government's efforts to slash the nation's record budget deficit.

The overall public sector budget for the Olympics stands at £9.3bn. Lord Coe's organising committee, known as Locog, has a separate privately financed operating budget of £2bn.

"I think the budget of ODA, including the cuts requested by the government, is a sound budget," Rogge said, noting the agency had previously made savings of more than £600m. "They have a lean but very workable budget. The same goes for Locog. We are in a period where every pound has to be really very well spent, but I think that's going to be a good outcome."

The Olympic Stadium will host the track and field competition and opening and closing ceremonies of the games. The stadium is to be downscaled after the Olympics to a 25,000-capacity venue, mainly for track and field.

Rogge said he hopes the athletics track will be retained.

Officials are now studying various possible long-term uses of the stadium. Premier League team West Ham United and American sports and entertainment giant AEG are among those which have applied to move into the stadium after the games. A final decision is expected by next March.

"We are keen on having an athletic track to remain," said Rogge, "but I'm confident that my British friends will find the best possible solution in terms of legacy."

Comments