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Three London Olympic venues at risk

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2008 16:57 hrs
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London: The future of three controversial London 2012 Olympic venues hangs in the balance after the British government ordered a review into their viability and value for money.

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has called in accountants KPMG to carry out a viability test on the proposed equestrian venue at Greenwich Park, the shooting facilities at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich and the basketball venue on the main Olympic Park.

The three have been criticised by local groups and sporting bodies over their cost, impact and legacy.

"We have commissioned KPMG to do a report on the equestrian, shooting and basketball venues, looking at whether the Olympic experience and the legacy they will provide represents value for money," Jowell said.

"When you take the costs for these venues, it seems like a lot of money to a lot of people. It is a sort of testing-to-destruction to see whether that spending can be justified."

Jowell said it was "possible but unlikely" the venues could be scrapped after the review, which is expected to take several months.

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The government is under pressure to keep costs down after the 2012 budget soared to 9.3 billion pounds.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was one of a number of ongoing reviews into efficiency.

The three venues in doubt are temporary and will not provide any legacy - a key plank of London's successful bid to host the Games.

The 23,000-seater stadium in Greenwich Park will be removed after 2012 as will the 7,500-seater facilities at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

The 12,000-seater basketball arena in the Olympic Park, which is to host the qualifying rounds, is set to be relocated after the finals, due to be held at the O2 Dome in Greenwich.

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Woolwich is unpopular with the sport's governing body, British Shooting. It prefers a site at Dartford where a permanent international-standard shooting centre could be built.

Local groups have complained that Greenwich, which is part of a World Heritage Site and is London's oldest Royal Park dating back to 1433, is an inappropriate place to host the equestrian event.

The cost of the venues will not be revealed until contracts have been agreed, but they are expected to total tens of millions of pounds.

The Olympic authorities have already had to change certain venues.

Fencing was moved, while canoeing and the kayak slalom was switched to Broxbourne, north of London, after fears over high levels of contamination.

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