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Olympic Games

Volume 78: debated on Wednesday 8 May 1985

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9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received any recent application from United Kingdom cities wishing to host future Olympic Games.

No, Sir. It is for the British Olympic Association to consider applications from United Kingdom cities wishing to host the games.

While recognising that this is principally a matter for the British Olympic Association, but recognising equally that three cities are bidding for the 1992 Olympic Games, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to say that if the British Olympic Association considers one of those applicants worthy he will today commit not only moral but financial support to that city so that it can meet the high Olympic standards?

It is premature to anticipate any such argument. The British Olympic Association has many issues to consider over the next few months. Technically, it has until August to decide whether to sponsor a host city when it goes to the IOC later this summer.

Is it not a fact that when the Olympic Games were last held in the United Kingdom, at Wembley, they created many jobs, with the rebuilding of Wembley Park station, the railway bridge, Olympia Way to Wembley, and so on? Is it not right that, when we have a city such as Manchester, which has much open land and space left by declining industries such as the textile industry, we should replace those jobs by petitioning the British Olympic Association to place the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom in Manchester?

I am sure that the chairman of the British Olympic Association, by this time tomorrow, will be fully aware of the force of my hon. Friend's argument.

Is the Minister aware of the great success of the national railway museum at York and the national museum of photography at Bradford? Is it not a peculiar form of arrogance to believe that any national facility must be based in London? Will he support the application to stage the Olympic Games in the north of England rather than automatically assuming that a national facility be sited in London?

While I would be the first to applaud some of those centres, I certainly do not consider that the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's argument is an assumption which anybody else would follow.

Will my hon. Friend give an undertaking that, while the Government will do everything to encourage the Olympic Games to come to the United Kingdom, there will be no need for taxpayers' money to be used for this purpose, following the excellent example of the United States Los Angeles Games, which actually made a profit?

While applauding the latter part of my hon. Friend's philosophy, I must point out that it is up to the British Olympic Association to decide whether to put this forward to the next IOC.

Will the Minister not be so dismissive of the idea of attracting the 1992 Olympics to the United Kingdom? As taxpayers' money was required to attract the 1966 World Cup, does he accept that we shall certainly require some taxpayers' money to attract the 1992 Olympics? To avoid this inter-city competition, will the Minister learn from the experience of the Los Angeles Olympics, where some of the events were held 500 and 600 miles from the main centre, and choose a collection of cities, two of which should be in Scotland—Edinburgh and Glasgow—in which to stage the Olympics?

I must point out that I do not accept the opening part of the hon. Gentleman's philosophy. There are many ways in which funds can be raised. I do not accept that the Olympic Games should be held at the taxpayers' expense. In Los Angeles, the matches were staged not 500 or 600 miles apart, but no more than 200 miles from the centre of the city.

Does the Minister agree that if an application made by London for the 1992 Olympic Games were accepted, and if Government plans were carried out, London would be the only city contending for the Olympics which had no unitary local authority to respond to such a decision and to ensure that the games were properly administered and run?

The last time the games were held in this country they were held in London, and they were bid for by the Lord Mayor of London.

Will my hon. Friend suggest to the Olympic committee that it inaugurates a new competition and prize for hon. Members wanting the most taxpayers' money to take the games to their constituencies?

I take note of what my hon. Friend says. I am certain that the British Olympic Association will take note of all the points made today.

Does the Minister appreciate that the bid for the Olympics will be taken seriously only if it is proved to to be financially feasible? Therefore, when the choice is being made by the British Olympic Association, will the Minister please make an assessment of the cost involved—both the private cost for running the games and the public cost for the infrastructure? Does he understand that unless that is done, the entire matter will be regarded as a charade?

Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, I have every confidence in the BOC. It is perfectly capable of making feasibility studies in conjunction with the cities.