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Why a London Grand Prix is the only solution

FEATURE BY CHRIS BALFE
12/04/2007

Pitpass editor Chris Balfe has made no secret of the fact that he always was, and remains, fiercely in opposition to the Olympics being held in London in 2012.

The estimated cost of the games has already quadrupled, and it's as sure a God made little apples that by the time the opening ceremony gets underway in five year's time - assuming the unions and terrorists have allowed it to get underway - the cost with be almost ten times the original bid.

According to the organisers, the funding for the (currently £9.34 bn) project comes from three different sources: 63% from Central Government, 23% from the National Lottery and the remaining 13% from the Mayor of London and the LDA. In other words, 'we the people'.

We are told that a vast swathe of east London will be regenerated, but only time will tell as to whether it is east Londoners that enjoy these benefits, or those businesses and individuals intent on following Bernie Ecclestone's mantra and heading east.

One of many hare-brained proposals - for an event that lasts 16 days - is for the moat of the Tower of London to be filled with water, for the first time in almost a thousand years. We are told that this will "benefit east Londoners". Quite how, flooding a one thousand year old moat - ignoring the environmental issues, and the fact that every summer Londoners are banned from using water for frivolous purposes such as washing cars and watering gardens - will benefit anyone remains to be seen. However, one can rest assured that flooding the moat after such a period of time will cause untold damage to one of the city's most historic landmarks and prize assets. But that's another story.

Londoners will benefit from the games we are told, and therefore Londoners will have to pay. The self-promoting Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has promised that the cost to Londoners will be around 38p a week for twelve years. "The same price as a walnut whip," he once joked. However, this was based on the original cost of the games, which as we now know have already quadrupled.

Ignoring the terrorist threat, the fact that Britain has an appalling record when it comes to bringing projects home on time, and even ignoring the fact London is amongst the most (tourist) unfriendly and outrageously expensive cities in the world, let's not forget that virtually none of those who committed us to this grand farce will be in office after 2012, therefore they won't have to answer for their mistakes.

London might need The Olympics but it simply cannot afford them. However, if those, including Livingstone really do want the kudos of hosting a major sporting event in the capital, surely they need do no more than head over to Princes Gate to discuss matters with Bernie Ecclestone, a keen supporter of the Olympic bid.

Let's face it, Bernie might think that Britain, like the rest of Europe, is doomed, but even he would relish the idea of Ferraris and McLarens going head to head in one of the most vibrant and historic cities on earth. Who needs Singapore or Melbourne when one has landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly?

As for finance, well, let Bernie explain how F1 has benefited Malaysia:

"Think back a few years ago, before Malaysia had a Grand Prix," he told the New Straits Times recently. "Many people never thought of coming here before Malaysia had F1 races. So the races give more exposure and open people's eyes to the country."

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