Caborn: London will be ready

British Sports Minister Richard Caborn has declared London has met all its deadlines and is firmly on schedule in its preparations for the 2012 Olympics.

Richard Caborn: Talking the talk
Richard Caborn: Talking the talk

The message came as a response to allegations from American Jack Lemley who claimed that projects may not be ready in time due to political meddling.

Lemley, a 71 year old American engineering tycoon, resigned last month from his position as head of the body responsible for delivering the venues and infrastructure for the Games, less than a year into his four year contract.

But Caborn was steadfast in his belief the English capital could deliver a successful Games.

“I am disappointed about Jack’s comments because I got on very well with him, but his statements don’t stand up,” Caborn said. 

“The IOC have been over here several times, they are seasoned observers of Olympic preparations and we have been given glowing reports.

“They say we are a year ahead of Sydney, two years ahead of Athens and we have every confidence in the ODA delivering the venues for the Games as required.”

Lemley told the Idaho Statesman he quit to preserve his reputation as a man who got the job done on time.

“I went there to build things, not to sit and talk about it, so I felt it best to leave the post and come home.

Sebastian Coe: Sitting, but talking?
Sebastian Coe: Sitting, but talking?

“I felt it was better to come home now than face that in five or six years,” he said.

He stated that there were three main areas of dispute, the future of the stadium, the interference of the 300 relocated businesses and the Government’s support for West Ham taking over the Olympic Stadium.

“A football field is not compatible with an athletic stadium,” said Lemley.

The American, who was also the head of the group that built the Channel Tunnel, was also stunned by the opposition of some of the businesses to moving away from the site in Stratford, east London.  

“Some of the people were happy to move, and some of them weren’t. In any event, there was a huge amount of local politics.  Those are the kind of things that confuse and frustrate the process.”  

Despite their bite an ODA spokesman nevertheless welcomed Lemley’s comments.

“It is only right that there should be a political debate about a project of this scale and importance, it would be very unusual if that were not the case.

“It is also right that we are having this debate, whether it is about the legacy of 2012 facilities or the regeneration opportunities the Games present, now – rather than years down the track.

“The fact is that we have hit all our major milestones to date and important work is continuing day by day. 

“We have begun work on site on time with the important job of under-grounding power lines. We have entered into negotiations with a world-class consortium to design and build the Olympic Stadium.  

“And, earlier this week, we announced the first draft of our Olympic Transport Plan. To have our Transport Plan ready six years before the Games is unprecedented.

“Clearly there are challenges ahead, but by any analysis, we are making real progress and are determined to continue doing so.”

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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