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EDITIONS

 Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 17:34 GMT
Olympic bid backed 'in principle'
Bringing the Olympics to London could cost 2.5bn
Opinion is split over the Olympics bid
London has received important backing for its bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.

But an influential committee of MPs warned on Thursday there should be a limit on how much government money was spent.

"It is clearly desirable in principal that London should host an Olympic and Paralympic Games, but it should not do so at any price," said the report from the influential Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

"The government must assure itself, before deciding to support a bid, that it understands what it is committing itself, London and the country as a whole to spend and to deliver."

The decision to be made by the cabinet next week is of fundamental importance

Committee report
The committee's chairman Gerald Kaufman MP said: "What we say is it will clearly be very happy if the games could be staged in this country.

"But what we have to do as a committee charged with custodianship of public funds is to look at the cost implications, the planning implications and the transport implications."

The government is due to decide next week whether to back London's bid and is aware the Games could cost as much as 2.5bn to stage.

Kaufman added: "There could be a very strong argument for saying the government should not be involved and that it should be a matter for the sporting authorities.

"But it's been made quite clear by the International Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association that they would not regard a bid as viable if it did not have strong and active backing of government."

The Culture, Media and Sport select committee wants the government to publish a full feasibility study of the costs and benefits of staging the Games.

And it said it recognised the fears of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell that this is likely to be the only opportunity for London to host the Games in the foreseeable future.

"If we are right in interpreting the evidence of the Secretary of State to mean 2012 is indeed the last chance to host the Olympic Games in this country, the decision to be made by the cabinet next week is of fundamental importance," the report continued.

The committee says a special minister should be appointed if a bid is agreed on.

It also wants to know what would happen to an Olympic Stadium in East London once the Games are over.

The report added: "All options should be considered, from temporary demolition to a full range of alternative uses after the Games."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC News' Rachel Wright
"The government must now decide if the price is worth paying"
 Olympic gold medal winner Matthew Pinsent
"Politicians aren't very sporty people"
 VOTE RESULTS
Should London bid for the 2012 Olympics?

Yes
 67.55% 

No
 32.45% 

8763 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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