The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee begins two days of hearings this morning into whether London should mount a bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Committee, chaired by Gerald Kaufman MP, will hear evidence from the British Olympic Association on Tuesday before the Secretary of State, the Greater London Authority, the London Development Agency and UK Sport appear on Wednesday.
In November, UK Sport’s Council gave its unanimous backing to the potential bid after considering the findings of Arup’s independent cost-benefit analysis report into London staging the Games.
"We believe that securing the Olympics would be one of the most significant factors in helping UK Sport achieve its overall goal of making the UK one of the world’s top five sporting nations by 2012," Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of UK Sport, explained.
"A co-ordinated British bid for the Olympic Games would be a powerful signal of our intent and desire to be one of the world’s leading sporting nations."
Speaking on the eve of the hearings and Tuesday’s House of Commons debate on the same topic, Sports Minister Richard Caborn told BBC News 24 that the Government was still closely examining the evidence in favour of and against a bid before making its final decision on the matter at the end of this month.
"We have to make sure that the evidence and information on which we base this decision is sound and not left to question – we’re very clear on that," Caborn explained.
"If one looks at Manchester and the regeneration that flowed out of the Commonwealth Games, you’ve got to do a cost-benefit analysis and see if you can actually get the regeneration spending a lot less or more than you would by staging the Olympics. That’s the process we’re going through at the moment.
"On the transportation, it’s a major factor moving people around. We’ve been looking at a number of cities that have hosted the Olympics and that’s the one thing they say to us – get the transport right.
"Everyone knows that there are major problems with moving people around in London, therefore that’s got to be a serious consideration."
The Sports Minister also said that the Government thought that the overall cost of the Games would exceed the figure initially predicted by Arup, though this wasn’t unexpected.
"It depends what you factor into it, as we’ve found when visiting a number of previous host cities of the Games," he explained. "We’re saying that the total cost would be nearer £5billion, with the cost to the public purse nearer £2.4billion than the £1.2billion predicted by Arup. This tallies with the information from previous host cities who say that the cost is broadly doubled by the time you get to the event itself.
"We have to look at what the income is to offset those costs, which could come from a number of areas."