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Why Paris deserves the 2012 Olympic Games

From Carl Mortished in The Times (UK).

We should give it to the French, first, because they want it so badly. ...

If almost a third of Londoners are indifferent or opposed to an Olympic jamboree, it may be because, unlike Parisians, we don’t believe all the nonsense about government-directed economic regeneration. We don’t believe that the construction of a velodrome and a kayak slalom course will transform the Lea Valley from sleepy backwater into an economic furnace. ...

The Government has no track record of competence in managing large public works projects, either directly or via part-privatised agencies. The Millennium Dome was a taster of the potential for embarrassment but a project so grand and so public as the Olympics cannot be allowed to fail.

For that reason, the IOC has achieved the extraordinary: it has extracted a blanket guarantee from the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, something no minister in the Cabinet has been able to secure. While health authorities are forced into ever more complex off-balance sheet arrangements to finance basic medical facilities, the Olympics are to get a blank cheque. I quote from the London 2012 bid document: "The Chancellor of the Exchequer has guaranteed that the UK Government will act as the ultimate financial guarantor should there be a shortfall between Olympic costs and revenues."

A licence for any contractor employed on a London Olympic project to dig in his heels and delay, delay, delay.

That's just a taste of a sumptuous essay.

Meanwhile, New York has been temporarily saved from Olympic extravagance by a combination of incompetence and fiscal sanity. While there is much rancor over the sanity part, incompetence seems to roll merrily along. The U.S.O.C., having awarded the American bid to New York with stadium plans at the wish-list stage, is compounding the error by insisting that the city "cannot pull out of the race for the 2012 Olympics before the final vote next month," i.e. that it carry on in a farce. Can't they just admit a mistake and move on?