Olympic Minister Denies Likelihood of Exceeding London 2012 Budget

December 6, 2011

With spending on the London 2012 Olympics nearing its £9.3 billion ($14.5bn) budget, Olympic minister Hugh Robertson has insisted the Games will not go overbudget despite a warning from the National Audit Office (NAO) that there is a “real risk” of an overspend.

The NAO say the finances for the Games are so finely balanced that “not everything is rosy” and that changes to things such as the security threat level or on transport could tip the balance. On Monday the government said an extra £271m ($423m) was needed for security guards, totalling £533m ($832m) and that £41m ($64m) of public funding will go towards the opening and closing ceremonies.

But he is adamant that the Games will not go over the overall £9.3billion ($14.5bn) budget, and said: “It’s the job of the National Audit Office to dig into these things and highlight any possible risks to the public purse, but I am very confident the Games can be delivered on under budget.”

He added: “The building work will be 95% complete by Christmas, we have already doubled the spending on security and it was always in the back of my mind that security costs were going to rise.”

The NAO have looked at the Government’s own risk analysis of the Games and Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The programme to deliver the venues and infrastructure for the 2012 Games remains on course, so it looks as if value for money will be achieved in this area.

“However, not everything is rosy.

“The Government is confident that there is money available to meet known risks but, in my view, the likelihood that the Games can still be funded within the existing £9.3billion public sector funding package is so finely balanced that there is a real risk more money will be needed.”

Robertson said the huge increase in security staff and costs was down to a change in the international security situation, and the fact that final planning could only be done once the competition schedule and detailed design of the venues was known.

He said: “When I started being minister there was no Arab Spring. No one really knows whether that’s going to have a beneficial or adverse effect on our security.”

The allocation of public money for the ceremonies could prove more controversial in the current economic climate, but Robertson insisted the Government was not trying to match the lavish ceremonies staged by Beijing in 2008.

To hear more views on this topic go to iSportconnect’s discussion What are the benefits of the London 2012 Olympics.