April 24th, 2009
02:19 PM ET

Olympic hopes help beat recession blues

LONDON, England (CNN) - There was a strong sense of irony in the location the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose to announce their latest assessment of the progress London had made towards a successful hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/24/art.iocpresser.gi.jpg caption="Denis Oswald, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, relays his good news"]

To set the scene, it was barely 24 hours since the British finance minister, Alistair Darling, had announced the need to borrow $257 billion over the next year to aid an economy wracked by recession.

Cold fiscal winds have blown around the world and London, arguably one of the epicentres of the global credit-crunch catastrophe, along with Britain more widely, is feeling its icy chill.

Yet here I stood, in the capital's Docklands financial district, amongst the myriad of glass-skinned, towered-office homes of many of the world's largest banks to hear how further billions were to be spent in the name of sport.

The British government have estimated playing home to the four-yearly Olympiad will cost in the region of $14 billion, an eye-watering figure in prosperous times, let alone the austere age of 2009.

Yet the marbled lobby area and subsequent plush pressroom, far from being doom-laden, held only happy faces and good news.

Despite the best efforts of hardened hacks to concentrate on negative notions, potential problems and rising costs the overall message that London was not only progressing well, but in many areas was ahead of schedule, just could not be suppressed.

"We were really deeply impressed by the progress made in the construction of different venues," a satisfied-looking Denis Oswald, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, said.

"We know that everything is on time and this gives a very good feeling three years before the Games."

Oswald had given the Local Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games (LOCOG) a mark of 9.5 out of 10 on his previous visit. This time, when back for a fourth look around the five major venue-construction sites for the Games, London was "very close to 10."

And as the welcome, April sunshine warmed the skin during a short amble back to the subterranean climes of the underground (subway) station it was hard not to hope the ringing endorsements from the IOC could pave the way for an Olympic show in 2012, worthy of the precious investment it is receiving.

Filed under:  Olympics
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