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Olympic Games 2012: Shooting

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009


Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to publish the paper presented by the Government Olympic Executive to the Olympic Board on 19 March on the issue of the suitability of Bisley as a venue for the shooting discipline at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

My Lords, I understand that there was a detailed discussion on Tuesday evening between the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the Olympic Delivery Authority, representatives from the National Shooting Centre at Bisley and a number of noble Lords. At that meeting LOCOG and the ODA set out in detail the basis of the Olympic Board’s decision to confirm Woolwich as the venue for the 2012 shooting events. The Government are committed to securing a positive legacy from the shooting events in 2012 and will work with British Shooting, among others, to maximise the opportunities for the sport beyond 2012.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. Will he confirm that the Government will encourage the Olympics wherever possible to undertake that type of briefing on any future issues? Will he also take this opportunity to confirm that it is the job of the Olympic movement to deliver a successful Games and to leave a legacy from those Games? The creation of white elephants would damage the idea and the spirit behind the Olympics, which surely must be the greatest legacy.

My Lords, I largely agree with the noble Lord. It is important that we have a successful Games, a major feature of which should be the legacy. However, the legacy is not just about bricks and mortar; it is about raising the profile of the sport. Having shooting close to the Olympic village and part, therefore, of the integrity of the Olympic Games will raise that profile, to say nothing of the fact that Woolwich barracks are both historic and located in a main urban area. We want to spread the appreciation of shooting as a sport and the venue will help in that respect.

My Lords, I was at that meeting with Members of this House and the other place. It was far from conclusive. Will the Minister urgently invite LOCOG to look again at the presentation shown by British Shooting on 16 February—it was seemingly dismissed as inaccurate information—that demonstrated that the Olympic shooting events can still be staged at Bisley, within existing boundaries, in time and on budget, if LOCOG now fully engages with British Shooting and its consultants? Would that not leave a much better legacy of a world-class centre for the next Commonwealth Games, international and national events and training, as well as military marksmanship?

My Lords, I do not accept my noble friend’s contention with regard to his last points. I was not present at the meeting, but I would be astonished if it had not been made definitively clear that Woolwich is the decision. The shooting is to be located at Woolwich for very good reasons, which have been explained. As I understand it, the purpose of the meeting was partly to define that situation.

My Lords, the noble Lord talks about legacy. As far as I am aware, the only legacy that is proposed is the kit to be used for the shooting event. With whom is the ministry in contact in the British shooting world to make sure that the kit that is specified and ordered is suitable for dispersal to local shooting clubs, or in some other way, to provide a legacy? That clearly must be a crucial decision. Following on from what the Minister said, has the ministry any other legacy proposals?

My Lords, as I have indicated, the most valuable legacy of the Games is to encourage people, particularly young people, to participate in the vast range of sports that the Olympics represent. I understand exactly the point made by the noble Lord. We consider the physical legacy from the shooting range at Woolwich to be at least as extensive as anything from Bisley. We do not see a great deal of legacy for the future in Bisley. That is one reason why this decision has been taken. However, I entirely accept that, as the noble Lord says, if the legacy is to be promoted effectively in terms of shooting kits and encouragement of the sport, the relationship between the Olympic authorities and British Shooting and all shooting groups must improve on what has obviously obtained in recent months.

My Lords, my noble friend asked what will happen to the guns. I did not hear the noble Lord answer that.

My Lords, we will discuss with British Shooting the whole question of the legacy from Woolwich. We are optimistic that there will be a considerable one, including part of the range to be relocated. The House will appreciate that British Shooting has been strong in its view that Bisley ought to have been the location. The decision is final that Woolwich is the better option in the overall strategy for the Games. It is important that the Olympic authorities now relate closely to British Shooting and all those with the interests of the sport at heart to guarantee that this issue of legacy is promoted satisfactorily.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the word “Bisley” has been associated with shooting throughout the world for many decades, whereas Woolwich has not?

My Lords, Woolwich has a certain connection with shooting: it is the home of the Royal Artillery. I understand what my noble friend is saying about this sport. The same issue could be presented for the equestrian events, another contentious issue that we have discussed. Everybody knows the worldwide renown of Burghley and of Badminton. The decision that those events should be taken in Greenwich Park, close to the Olympic Village, is on exactly the same logic. These are the London Games. The integrity of these sports, which are often somewhat distant from the focal points of the Games, will be, in the London instance, closely related to the excitement round the immediate area of the Olympic village.

My Lords, was it considered a good idea to destroy a football ground and cricket pitch for the sake of a car park for the equestrian competitions? Why could that event not have been held at Windsor, which was suitable and willing?

My Lords, there is always some sacrifice involved in concentrating the Games in an urban area. The Greenwich Park initiative involves some considerable change to the contours of the park. That is to be done sensitively. There is a clear obligation on the Olympic authorities to restore the areas and facilities that they command to their best, proper state after the Games are over.