Anger as extra £41m goes on Olympic opening ceremony
Fears that 2012 Games will exceed their budget as cost of security at venues almost doubles
THE LONDON Olympics has become embroiled in yet more controversy after the Government revealed that the cost of security at the Games' venues had almost doubled to £553m and that an extra £41m of public money is to be spent on the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Guardian reports that the National Audit Office has now warned that there is a "real risk" that the cost of the Games will exceed the £9.3bn public funding package.
Simon Barnes in The Times is unimpressed by the extra funding for the opening and closing ceremonies, which he describes as "hideous and ghastly and vulgar" and "self-aggrandising codswallop".
"Apparently it's some kind of national television commercial designed to tell the world how great we are," he says. "If we were really great we'd spend the money on something worth doing." Barnes suggests conservation programmes for elephants and tigers and cataract operations "in rural Bihar".
Many echoed his sentiment on Twitter. Actress MyAnna Buring lamented government cuts to disability benefits, and others expressed astonishment that the government had somehow got its hands on £41m during times of austerity.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson explained that the added security costs at the venues, which now stand at more than half-a-billion pounds, were down to an unforeseen need to more than double the number of staff from the original 10,000 to 23,700. When combined with the additional police budget, The Daily Telegraph says the total security budget for the Olympics will now exceed £1.1bn.
"You can say this looks like a huge increase in the security budget or you can say this is what is needed to provide a safe and secure Games," said Robertson.
The latest increases leave a contingency of just £500m within the government's Olympic kitty, which Robertson insisted would be enough. But the Guardian quotes an NAO report, which concludes: "The funding package of £9.298bn is currently so finely balanced there is the real risk that more money will be needed."