London 2012: PM defends decision to double ceremonies budget
David Cameron stands by his decision to double the budget for the London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies
David Cameron has insisted he was right to double the budget for London 2012’s ceremonies, insisting every penny will be “money well spent”.
Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, who is responsible for the opening ceremony, and production team colleagues presented two plans to the Prime Minister before Christmas – one that was delivered against a £41 million budget and another higher cost proposal.
Over four billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony worldwide and Cameron, anxious of embarrassment after Beijing set the bar so high at the 2008 Games, promptly signed off on the more expensive plans.
“I went to see what Danny Boyle was proposing and I think it will be a great opening and closing ceremony,” Cameron told Sky News.
“It’s not Chinese on scale but it draws on our great strengths as Britain, our brilliance in creative industries, some of our great campaigns and what Britain means today.
“It’s a great advertisement and if you think of the millions of pounds we are spending, it’s probably worth between two and five billion of free publicity to our country.
“It’s money well spent and if you are going to have the Olympic Games, you’ve got to have a good opening ceremony to kick it off.
“It’s going to be a great moment for Britain, when the whole of the world looks at the UK.”
With exactly 200 days to go until the start of the Games, the Prime Minister held a full Cabinet meeting at the handball arena, which from today will known as the Copper Box, and met with members of the British diving team at the aquatic centre.
The total budget for bringing the Games to Britain is over £9 billion, much less than Beijing spent four years ago but just under two times the amount originally envisioned when London won their bid in 2005.
However, the Prime Minister – who was in opposition when the Games were awarded – insists that despite the global financial crisis he has no regrets about the event being staged.
“It’s an awful lot of money to spend on a short event but there is a lasting legacy and it’s an enormous commercial for Britain. We’ll host investment conferences every day of the Games to bring in billions of pounds,” he added.
“Normally at this stage before an Olympics the government is in crisis because the venues haven’t been finished but on this occasion not only is the Olympic Park 95 percent completed but six out of eight of the main venues have already got good legacy uses for the future.”