Sunday, March 09, 2008

Olympics chiefs demand 3,000 chauffeur-driven cars for ‘green’ Games

From The Times March 6, 2008

"London’s ambition to hold the first car-free Olympics in 2012 is being undermined by the International Olympic Committee’s demand for more than 3,000 chauffeur-driven cars for dignitaries, officials and corporate sponsors.

These cars will have access to a network of dedicated lanes, which will be closed to other traffic for up to two months. Up to 3,000 sets of traffic lights will also be adjusted to ensure that the IOC’s fleet has fast access to all venues.

Those whom the IOC insists need cars, in addition to receiving free access to public transport, include the 110 IOC members, 400 presidents and secretary-generals from the Olympic committees of the 200 competing nations and 450 senior executives from corporate sponsors. None of the 10,500 athletes will have access to the 3,145 cars and will instead travel on a dedicated fleet of coaches.

The eight million spectators will not be able to travel by car because the Games venues will have only a small number of disabled parking spaces.

The London 2012 Organising Committee confirmed that the coach service would operate every few minutes between the hotels where the VIPs were staying and the venues but that it would be powerless to make them use it.

The requirement for a fleet of VIP cars is part of the IOC’s contract with London. The contract is being kept secret at the insistence of the IOC. Members of the London Assembly have asked for an explanation of why so many cars are needed and to see the details of the contract. They have been told that they can read the contract, but only after signing a legal agreement not to divulge the contents.

Jenny Jones, a Green member of the assembly, said: “I am appalled that so many bigwigs will be chauffeured around on dedicated lanes when there is going to be a superb public transport service as well as a special coach service. It is against the whole spirit of the Games, which is meant to be the greenest ever.”

She also criticised the IOC for refusing to divulge the details of its demands in the contract. “It is unacceptable that Londoners still don’t know what they have signed up to in 2012.”"

My biggest regret of the century? I did not offer my services to the French Embassy to lobby for this wretched fiasco to take place in Paris.

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