Corps news Embassy 41
London’s diplomats have given the preparations for the 2012 Olympics the thumbs up, saying the sporting spectacle will be a good legacy for the capital.
In an Embassy Survey conducted on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, four out of five envoys say they are looking forward to the Games. Six per cent have mixed feelings, worrying about the disruption, and only 12 per cent are wholly unimpressed, saying it is a waste of money.
More than two thirds of the diplomatic community (71 per cent) think the Games have been beneficial to the capital, providing much-needed jobs and infrastructure to a deprived area of London.
A good Games will bring Londoners together and enhance the city’s reputation internationally, said one envoy. “But London is also under a lot of scrutiny. This is the first twitter Olympics, so if something goes wrong, everybody will know about it.”
However 9 per cent say it is too early to discern the long-term impact of the Games and 21 per cent claimed the cost of the Olympics now standing at around £9bn has not been good value for money and will only benefit “a few rich people”.
One disenchanted diplomat criticised Games organisers for being too preoccupied with corporate sponsors, while neglecting local London businesses.
When it comes to the organisation of the Games, diplomats are split down the middle: 46 per cent say the preparations have been good, even excellent, and that the Brits have been “too hard on themselves” over minor teething problems.
But 41 per cent say the initial impressive organisation has been tarnished by “logistical blunders”, last-minute security hitches and an over-complicated ticketing system.
As one diplomat put it: “All the sites are ready but the people are not and the transport has been wing-and-a-prayer stuff.”
Asked about future hosts for the Games, diplomats are divided: 60 per cent conclude that the complexity and expense of hosting an Olympic Games rules out poorer countries, while 30 per cent strongly disagree saying it is time for the IOC to “go back to basics” and also consider the possibility of smaller countries to co-hosting the Olympic Games.
One diplomat said a more important factor than wealth was a country’s ability to raise sponsorship, while another commented that the large cities in the developed world were overloaded and that the Games would be better suited to emerging economies who would benefit more from the regeneration possibilities.
NO CHANGE AT THE TOP
If diplomats’ predictions are correct then Britain will fail to improve on its medal haul in Beijing and will not dislodge Russia from third position on the medal table. USA is fairly dominant at the top but the tussle for fifth position between Australia and Germany is intense.
Diplomats Medal table predictions
1 USA (59%)
2 China (49%)
3 Russia (41%)
4 Great Britain (41%)
5 Germany (29%)
Gold medals per capita
2 New Zealand