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‘Great show will be no surprise’

other Updated: Oct 03, 2010 00:40 IST
Indraneel Das
Indraneel Das
Hindustan Times
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Even the United Kingdom is under pressure, financially, as the hosts of the Olympics in 2012. Sports minister for sports of UK, Hugh Robertson, during an exclusive interview with HT , said one of the reasons why he would not be staying for the entire Games was financial. “We need to control public expenditure and staying throughout the Games would send out the wrong signals,” he said. “So I had to choose between the first few days and the last few days. The opening made more sense there are some meetings (including Commonwealth sports ministers’ meeting) lined up.”

Robertson, when asked if was justified to spend so much public money on mega events like the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics, said, as far as the Olympics go, the UK government took the opportunity to develop an of east London which was really ‘depressed’. The country is spending 9.3 billion pounds (Rs 65230 crore) on civic infrastructure.

According to Robertson, the Games acted like a catalyst to transform the area in and around Olympic Park. The area in East London was once industrial contaminated land.

“It’s transformed into the largest new urban park in Europe. Transport infrastructure has been improved and Stratford will now have the largest shopping centre in all of Western Europe, which will create thousands of jobs in the area,” he said.

As for the Capital expenditure, the UK government is banking on the National lottery and private sector (like merchandising, sponsors, broadcast rights, etc) to generate 4billion pounds (28,000 crore). “The operating expenses of the Games will be borne by the private sector, and they hope to recover this amount (14,000 crore) through revenues generated.”

He also supported India’s hosting of the CWG. “The government must have felt that the expense on account of the Games was justified on account of the picture of India it will portray to the world. And I am sure it will be a good picture. It is also a great way to prove that India can host the Olympics.”

Roberston also clarified that the government never thought of pulling out its athletes from the Delhi Games. “There have been concerns, we spoke to athletes as well, even they were quite supportive and did not want to miss the chance of winning a medal for their country,” he said. “Some of them know they can’t win on a bigger stage and for them this is an opportunity to showcase their talent.”

“It was always going to be a challenging task to stick to deadlines. India is a great place, but often things get done in the last semester. This was not a surprise to those of us who know the country, just as it will not be a surprise when you pull of a fantastic opening ceremony on Sunday, and a great Games after that.”