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Linford Christie
Linford Christie

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Well it's 55 years since the Olympic Games were last held in Britain. Back in '48, they provided a huge boost to national morale after the long years of war. Now many of our top sportsmen and sportswomen are campaigning for a British bid to stage the Olympics again in 2012. They point to the recent Sydney games which brought huge prestige to Australia, and are widely regarded as one of the most successful of the modern era. They even made a profit, of an estimated two billion pounds. The five times gold medal winning oarsman, Sir Steve Redgrave, is among the many British athletes who believe a London Olympics could be an economic as well as a sporting success story. The former Olympic 100 metre champion Linford Christie is another. And they've all written to the Prime Minister urging him to back this bid. Well Linford Christie is with me right now in the studio, and we'll see if he can persuade one of the sceptics from the politic world, Gerald Kaufman, who chairs the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. Welcome to you both. Linford, why are you behind this bid so strongly?

LINFORD CHRISTIE: Well I mean first of all I think it's time that we need it, you say 50 years ago since we had the last Olympic Games - the feel good factor. I mean all the good things it will bring to the country, and there's, you know, the sportsmen, when you go abroad, and you see the games have made in the other countries, all the athletes, you know, you just want to compete in front of your own crowd. And I think it's very much needed now, 50 years has been 50 years too long.

DAVID FROST: Right. And it would be good, you mean, for our sportsmen.

LINFORD CHRISTIE: Oh it would be good for the sportsmen, for the country. I mean the feel good factor, alone, for the country, I mean it can only boost, you know, the whole country. The feel, you know, the economics, everything, I mean it's just great for the whole country, and I think the government should go ahead and give us what we want.

Gerald Kaufman MP
Gerald Kaufman MP
DAVID FROST: Well Gerald you were quoted early on in this sage as describing this as madness as an idea. Today we read that Tony Blair is warming to the idea, it says in the papers, are you warming to the idea or not?

GERALD KAUFMAN: I would warm to the idea if everything that Linford Christie hoped for could be achieved, because every word he said is undeniable. What you've got to look at it, as politicians, members of the House of Commons, is how much it would cost. It would certainly cost public funds, the taxpayer, around three billion pounds and Sydney, you say it made a profit, but the costs doubled on the estimate. Athens, 18 months before, is already doubled what they estimated. And when we're looking at this, of course Linford Christie is absolutely right to say in terms of feel good factor, national morale, boost for our sports people, great, but what the government has got to consider is will those costs balloon before we get there, and could that money better be spent on hospitals or schools or law and order? That's the problem for the government.

DAVID FROST: Linford, could the money be better spent? Do you think it could get out of control all the money being spent?

LINFORD CHRISTIE: Well, I mean I think it could get out of control and it's up to the people who are doing all the maths to work this out, but at the end of the day if we do make a profit, regardless how much it costs, a profit's a profit, and as long as we make a profit, it can't be bad idea.

DAVID FROST: And in fact do you think it could make a profit, that it wouldn't be, as it were, another Dome rocketing in ... ?

LINFORD CHRISTIE: Well I hope not, and I think it would be easier to get to the Olympic Games than the Dome but, saying that, I mean I think, failing the fact that we don't get the games, then I think the government then should give us, you know sport, half the money it would cost to run the games. So then, we do go to another country to participate in the games, that we can actually, you know, produce some great athletes, you know, that we can represent our country outside of it.

DAVID FROST: And, and Tony Blair also said that we need to know, the finances as Gerald says, but the other thing is we need to know it's winnable. We don't want to go into a contest where we've got no chance and we spend 30 or 50 million preparing for it, or whatever, and we don't get it. Do you think it's winnable?

LINFORD CHRISTIE: I think as long as we put the right kind of proposal forward, it's winnable. But you know, again, we've got to start working towards the games now, we've got to start building, you know, new stadiums. You know, put in the planning, the progress, and then the IOC committee will look at it and say, well, this is what they are doing, they are making progress, they are trying, and I think we've got more chance then. If we wait until the last minute, or until we get the, you know, to see if we get the games before we start building, then we're going to be in trouble. So we've got to start building now, preparing, you know, for the 2012.

DAVID FROST: There are hints in the paper today that there may be government money forthcoming in addition to Camelot and those things, do you think there's a possibility of government money going into this or it will have to be, if it happens, have to be done by private finance?

GERALD KAUFMAN: No, every penny will be public money, that's for sure. Every penny will be either money contributed through the Chancellor of the Exchequer or money contributed through council taxpayers. If it comes through the lottery then that money that would have gone on other good causes would go on that. David, you'll hate me for saying things, but there's no such thing as a free launch.

DAVID FROST: A free launch - very well put. Very well put. That's a good point to end it on. There's no such thing as a free launch. Well thank you both very much, we'll see how this develops. The decision is going to come probably on Thursday, in Cabinet on Thursday, isn't it? What do you both think the decision will be?

LINFORD CHRISTIE: I think we should do the right thing and I think it should be a yes. I think Mr Blair will do the right thing and support us.

DAVID FROST: And what do you think the outcome will be?

GERALD KAUFMAN: I love doing the right thing but can we afford the right thing? That's the question that the Cabinet has got to answer.

DAVID FROST: Thank you both very much, you've encapsulated that splendidly. Thank you both, good to see you again, Linford, and Gerald.


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