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  • London Olympics Minister Investigates Beijing Venues


    Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell made her last trip to Beijing in Sept. 2006. (Getty Images)  
    (ATR) Britain’s Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell is meeting with senior BOCOG officials in Beijing on a fact-finding mission designed to improve planning for London 2012.

    “Tessa Jowell is out there to find out what we can learn from the experience of Beijing that can be brought back to London,” a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told Around the Rings.

    “Once we take on the mantle of the Games from Beijing, there will be more scrutiny from the IOC,” said the DCMS official.

    Jowell is said to have had discussions with BOCOG about ticketing and handover preparations for the closing ceremony at next year’s Olympics. Budgets and legacy issues are expected to be other issues under discussion.

    London’s Olympics Minister today met Deng Pufang, executive president of BOCOG, following a meeting with the committee’s president Liu Qi Monday.
    The Bird's Nest stadium will first open to the public for an April athletics event. (Getty Images)  

    After unveiling the design of London’s Olympic Stadium last week, Jowell has had the opportunity to visit the 91,000-seat Bird’s Nest Stadium and the adjacent Water Cube at the 1,135-hectare Olympic Green.

    A whistle-stop venue tour Monday also took in the Olympic Exhibition Center, Olympic Village, International Broadcast Center and Main Press Center.

    Jowell has also held talks on Beijing’s volunteerism project and spoke with a select group of young climate ambassadors at the British Council offices Tuesday to find out how organizers are greening the Games.

    On Wednesday, Jowell is scheduled to meet Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan and Liu Peng, director of the general administration of sport of China and president of the Chinese Olympic Committee. In the afternoon, she will tour the China Institute of Sport Science.

    Jowell’s six-day trip to Beijing - her second to the city in 14 months - wraps up on Thursday.

    She will return to the U.K. to be greeted by some familiar headlines in the British media focusing on London’s Olympic budget concerns.

    Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee meets Wednesday to scrutinize the government’s $18 billion Games budget and is expected
    Demolition at London's Olympic Park site is scheduled to give way to construction in Summer 2008. (Getty Images)  
    to again call for greater transparency of costs.

    The committee’s report on risk management for Games preparations published in the summer suggested stricter procedures should be implemented to ensure costs do not exceed the budget.

    Meanwhile, a new nationwide survey suggests Jowell and London 2012 organizers have more work to do in order to satisfy the British public that the Games are a worthwhile investment.

    A poll of 2,000 people this week revealed that only 76 per cent are confident London will host a successful Games, an approval rating the Government is keen to raise quickly.

    “The polling shows that many people still have to switch on to 2012. When they do, I am confident support will reach even higher levels,” Jowell admitted in a statement.

    The survey will inform development of the Government's ‘Our Promise for 2012’ before the publication of its legacy action plan in the next few months.

    More than two-thirds of those surveyed rated inspiring young people to take part in local volunteering, and cultural and physical activity as the most important of the Government’s five promises published in the summer.

    Reported from the U.K. by Mark Bisson

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