Peter Hoskin

Olympic tax burden to skyrocket?

Olympic tax burden to skyrocket?
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In an interview in today's Independent, John Armitage, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), admits taxpayers may shoulder a greater burden for the 2012 Games as private finance options dry up.  Here's how the Indy puts it in an accompanying article:

John Armitt said it was possible that no private sector money would be found for the £1bn Olympic village in the heart of the park, the most high-profile victim of the global downturn which has already cost the taxpayer £326m more than was planned for.

The authority has already given up hope of securing funding for the £355m international media centre, which will now be paid for entirely by the Exchequer. In total, £496m has already been used from the £2bn contingency fund set aside for the project.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Armitt admitted yesterday that there remained a chance that the no private money at all would be found for the Olympic village.

"Clearly, if we finally finished up with no private sector investment in the village, that would require a further contribution from the public sector," Mr Armitt said.

"At the moment we're still in negotiation, and we're still optimistic that we'll get to a point where we've got a private sector offer on the table and contribution to the village."

Nevertheless, Mr Armitt confirmed that the ODA could not "rule out" a complete failure of private sector funding for the village. "There remains an outside chance and it's a risk which at the end of the day will be properly considered between us and the Government," he said.

The possiblity of extra taxes, either during or just after a downturn, to pay for a two-week sporting event? To my mind, all this just strengthens the case for an Austerity Olympics.