Last month the ODA were struggling with the reality that Lend Lease, a major investor in the Olympic Village, failed to come up with funding, leaving the public to foot costs of £200 million to allow development to continue amid fears that the entire cost would be left as a legacy to the public. Adding to this, the ODA have had to respond to allegations of a “gloomy forecast” in their accounts by London’s Evening Standard and last week’s claims by the BBC that the Zaha Hadid design for the Aquatics Centre in London (which will be used for diving and swimming) is ‘too complicated’ to build in time for the Olympic Games in 2012.
But in the last week the ODA have hit back issuing responses to both news organisations and announcing three separate landmark progressions. The ODA responded to the Evening Standard’s report stating: “Contrary to what it says, we do not have any ‘gloomy forecast’ in our accounts. In fact, we are confident that we have set realistic revenue targets, including our sponsorship goals, and that we will achieve all our objectives.
“Clearly the global economic environment is tougher than it was two years ago, but this validates our decision to start fundraising six years before the Games come to London, and we have not seen any decline in interest in this once in a lifetime sponsorship opportunity.”
In a separate response, the ODA's Chief Executive, David Higgins, told WAN of his dissappointment with the BBC’s allegations about the Aquatics Centre. He said: "Media, political and public scrutiny about the project is very important but the recent media story about problems delivering the Aquatics Centre, for example, is untrue. The innovative building structure design for the Aquatics Centre is finalised and the contractor is on site and ready to start construction ahead of schedule this month so the delivery of this iconic venue is firmly on schedule."
Three days ago the ODA also announced that a major rail project was completed ahead of schedule, freeing up a key area for construction work onsite, and today designs have been revealed for the new White Water Canoe Centre in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. The images have been released as the planning application process for the venue gets underway.
During the Games the venue will be used to compete in canoe and kayak slaloms. The design includes a 300m slalom course with a warm-up course and finish lake; landscaping works to include path and bridge networks throughout the venue and a facility building, designed by architects FaulknerBrowns, containing a reception, café, changing rooms, shop, offices, spectator viewing facilities, equipment storage and water pump/filtration facilities.
Higgins said: “With the planning process underway we are firmly on-track to deliver the new world-class facilities at Broxbourne in good time for the Games. These plans have been created by leading architects and landscape designers and will help us deliver first-class facilities for the world’s best athletes in 2012 and leave the lasting legacy of a major leisure attraction for Broxbourne and the East of England region for many years to come.”
What of the overall venture? Will it be completed in time?:"The one certainty about this project is that everything must be ready by Friday 27th July 2012 when the Games opening ceremony takes place, so I’m absolutely confident that everything will be delivered in time," said Higgins.The ODA have continued their battle against critics today as they advised that 75p in every £1 spent by the ODA is being invested in the long-term regeneration of east London.
Niki May Young