The White Elephant In The Room

I’ve been searching iPlayer to try to find the report that Adrian Warner, the BBC London’s Olympic correspondent filed last night on the 6.30pm bulletin – I’m rubbish with trying to find things on the BBC site and I can’t dig it out – sorry.

What it boiled down to was that the 2012 committee had originally planned to build a £40m temporary structure on Greenwich Peninsula to house the gymnastics, boxing and something else which slips my mind, but which might be badminton (spot the sports-fan, here, folks…)

Boris Johnson said that was too expensive and announced he was going to move them to Wembley. Now the individual sports are saying “Hey – why should we move? It was supposed to be in East London – we want to stay.”

They’ve dug their heels in and now everything’s reached an impasse. And the sports have a point – a big old fuss is being made by the organisers insisting on putting the equestrian events in the park, for example, using the excuse that they want to ‘keep it local.’ What’s sauce for the goose…

But here’s the rub. Adrian Warner’s report, the tenor of which is “Everything’s in meltdown while the organisers desperately search for a venue” was delivered standing in front of the O2, one of Britain’s most user-friendly, public-transport-accessible venues, and very notably in the east of London. One that’s just lost a whole load of cash, not to mention face, over the biggest no-show of its short career (though Michael Jackson did have a good excuse…)

It was built with huge amounts of public money and sold to AEG for a song. Why the hell wasn’t it requisitioned as a venue in the first place? And why the bloomin’ hell aren’t they considering it now? The only excuse I can think of (apart from AEG refusing to play ball – or even shuttlecock – get that sports imagery in, Phantom…) is that it’s ‘too big’ – but I’ve seen the place made smaller with cunning screens, curtains and seating.

Surely the committee could offer the O2 somewhat less than forty million, giving them loads of that precious ‘good publicity’ that we’re supposed to be getting from the games, keeping the sports happy, AEG nicely-promoted and LOCOG headache-free (on that issue at least…)

I find Warner a frustrating reporter. He seems so busy toadying up to the 2012 committee that he fails to ask obvious questions. The very fact that he did this whole piece about not being able to find a venue in front of a seemingly perfect candidate really makes me wonder what he’s doing…


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