Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Mayor backs boost for 2012 ceremony

London Mayor Boris Johnson has defended the extra £41 million allocated to the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, saying it would "deliver untold benefits" for the UK.

Mr Johnson described it as a "small sum of money" in comparison with China, who he claimed "blew half our defence budget on fireworks" for the event in Beijing in 2008.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "This is something that people in London, you and I in our generation, we're never going to see again, we're never going to have an occasion when London is at the centre of the world in that particular way.

"The multiplier effect of investing in something that celebrates London and the UK around the world is untold by all the PR people, the advertising people ... the economic analysis, this will deliver untold benefits for the UK."

Mr Johnson said there were markets around the world where the UK needed to improve its image and brand, adding "this is a small sum of money by comparison...the Chinese blew half our defence budget on fireworks.

"We are not going to be spending anything like what they did in Beijing, but given that this thing is only going to happen once in 50, 60 years I think we should do it well."

Sports minister Hugh Robertson announced earlier this month an additional £41 million for the opening and closing ceremonies on top of the £40 million set aside by the Games organisers, arguing it would attract business and tourism.

Baroness Billingham, an Opposition spokeswoman for sport, previously hit out at ministers for "a total lack of judgment" over the decision to double funding for the ceremonies, adding the money should have gone back into schools and grass-roots sport.


From Belfast Telegraph