PM orders Olympic ceremonies & security budget to be doubled
David Cameron calls for the budget for London 2012's showpiece ceremonies to be doubled after seeing initial plans
Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered the budget for London 2012’s showpiece ceremonies to be doubled after he was given a sneak peak of initial plans.
Organisers Locog will now have just over £80m to spend on producing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics, still substantially less than Beijing, who spent £65m on their Olympic opening alone.
More than four billion people are expected to watch the ceremonies, with the Olympic opening predicted to be the biggest television event of the year.
Leading advertising figure Sir Martin Sorrell claims exposure from the cultural showpieces could be worth up to £5 billion – and believes the events will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase London and the United Kingdom and help generate a lasting tourism legacy from the Games.
Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, the mastermind behind the Olympic opening ceremony, always knew he would not have the same budget enjoyed by Chinese film maker Zhang Yimou, who produced Beijing’s spectacular first night with over 15,000 performers.
His cast will be substantially smaller – Locog confirmed that 20,000 volunteer performers would be used across all four shows – but he previously claimed he was confident the opening would be both ‘epic and intimate’.
“To get the ceremonies absolutely right, and boost the Games business and tourism legacy, we are putting additional investment into our ceremonies,” said Olympics minister Hugh Robertson.
Meanwhile, Robertson has also confirmed the security budget for the Games was being dramatically increased – although not because of any specific threat.
Home Secretary Theresa May had previously trimmed the Olympic budget as part of the coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
However, £271m in extra funding is now being made available to secure venues, official hotels and other sensitive sites. An army of security guards is also being swelled from 10,000 to over 20,000.
That equates to a doubling of the current Locog budget for security, taking overall spending to over a billion pounds when you include the £475m police budget.
Robertson insisted the event remained on course to be delivered within its revised £9.3 billion budget and that extra cash for both security and ceremonies were available from contingency funding.
“The Government and Locog have now undertaken detailed analysis of the numbers of security staff required to protect the more than 100 Olympic venues,” he added.
“As a result, to ensure a safe and secure Games, they have revised the numbers of trained staff required.
“We are therefore investing additional funds in providing nearly 24,000 venue security personnel plus specialist security equipment.”
However, the decision to increase the ceremony funds was immediately slammed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who said the party, no matter how good, would not be worth the £40m hangover.