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Rio Olympics 2016 - 10. April 2008.

Lemley says Games will cost over £20 billion as latest figures revealed


APRIL 8 - JACK LEMLEY (pictured), the former chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), today claimed that the cost of the 2012 Games could top £20 billion as new figures for the cost of some of the venues were released.

Lemley, an American who controversially left the ODA in October 2006, claimed in an interview published in the Evening Standard today that officials had deliberatel suppressed the true cost of the Games.

Lemley told the Evening Standard that from "very early on," the ODA was working to a cost estimate for the Games of "well over £12 billion" - more than three times the £3.3 billion publicly claimed at the time.

Lemley said he believed the final cost would be £20 billion, because of the state of the Stratford site.

He said: "We were never able to really go public with the full budget.

"That was always suppressed and the Mayor (Ken Livingstone) didn't want any significant growth in these budgets because it would create a bigger tax.

"I had advocated telling the public because I felt like the credibility of the process would be eroded ... as time went on and it became evident what the [real] costs are."

Lemley's claims coincided with the ODA revealing that cost of the Aquatics Centre for 2012 will be £242 million with an additional cost of £61 million for the land-bridge which will form part of the venue's roof.

The 2004 bid book for the building, designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, quoted £75 million.

The ODA said the £303 million figure has not changed throughout the procurement process and is within its £6.09 billion baseline budget as announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last December.

It includes contract price, inflation, VAT and legacy conversion costs, while the bid price does not and is based on 2004 prices.

The Aquatics Centre has had a troubled history, with a redesign needed to incorporate the land-bridge and potential construction contractors pulling out of the tender process.

Only Balfour Beatty was left after the French company Eiffel and German firm Hochtief withdrew, and the British company was announced officially today as the contractor.

The centre, which will feature a sweeping roof, will mark the entrance to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

It will host the swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo finals and parts of the modern pentathlon.

After the Games, the 17,500 temporary seats will be removed, leaving in legacy a 2,500-capacity swimming venue which can be boosted to 3,500 seats.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said she was delighted a British company will build it.

ODA Chief Executive David Higgins said: "This is great news for the project and good news for world class British companies with so many UK firms involved.

"With these contracts signed there is a real sense of momentum as we approach the Big Build' ahead of schedule.

"All of these venues will not only provide state-of-the-art facilities for the Games in the summer of 2012 but also provide permanent legacy facilities for elite and community use long after the Games have gone.

"They are a huge investment in the future of this part of East London - approximately 75p of every pound we spend is delivering a clear legacy benefit for many years after 2012.

"At this stage we have not had to allocate any programme contingency. As we have stated many times in the last year we fully expect to do so as we manage costs going forward."

Richard Rogers, chief adviser to the Mayor of London on architecture and urbanism, said: "Zaha Hadid's aquatics centre is likely to be the 'jewel in the crown' of the Olympic Park for the next century.

"Its elegant and sinuous design in legacy mode maintains many of the qualities of the original scheme that was developed in a design competition which I co-chaired a few years ago."

Ian Tyler, Balfour Beatty chief executive, said it was "looking forward to delivering this iconic facility".

Construction work on the aquatics centre is due to start later this year after months of having to clean the site's contaminated soil, and is due to be completed in 2011.

Balfour Beatty's previous projects include University College Hospital London and the new airport terminal at Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong.

Team Stadium (Sir Robert McAlpine, HOK Sport and Buro Happold) were, as previously reported in insisdethegames, also confirmed as the contractor for the £492 million main Olympic Stadium.

A construction contractor is due to be appointed for the velodrome during the next few weeks.

A spokesman for the ODA denied Lemley's figure of £20 billion.

He said: "The budget for 2012 was still months away from being agreed when Mr Lemley left his job as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority in the autumn of 2006.

"It is simply untrue to say that the real budget is £12 billion and that this figure has been suppressed."

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "These ridiculous claims come from someone who has had no connection whatsoever with the 2012 project for almost 18 months.

"In fact, the budget for 2012 was still months away from being agreed when Mr Lemley left his job as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority in the autumn of 2006.

"It is simply untrue to say that the real budget is £12bn and that this figure has been suppressed.

"The reality is that the National Audit Office has carried out a detailed independent review of funding for 2012 and described it as soundly based and robust."
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