7th October - LONDON MAYOR Boris Johnson (pictured) today promised that the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will not go over budget and predicted that there will be more of a party atmosphere than there was in Beijing for this year's Games.
The Games in the Chinese capital, which reportedly cost £20 billion, were widely praised for their technical merit but most visitors who attended claimed that there was lack of atmosphere compared to previous Olympics.
Appearing before an influential group of MPs in London, Johnson promised that he would put the fun back into the Games.
He the Commons Culture Select Committee: "We can produce a Games that's just as good, if not better, without spending all that money.
"It will be very, very different.
"It will be much, much more fun.
"We will use the whole of the city to create a fantastic atmosphere.
"It's my intention that central London will be the place that people come to hang out and spend their money before they go to the various Olympic sites around London.
"It will be more of a party atmosphere, a festival atmosphere."
The key, he admitted, could be the security.
Johnson said: "It will not be like China [whose security levels] many people found oppressive'."
He rounded on critics who claim that Londoners should foot the bill for the security, currently estimated to be £600 million but which it is predicted could reach as much as £1.5 billion.
Johnson said: "If you think that during the G8 [in July 2005] 12,000 police were moved to Scotland and terrorists struck in London.
"The security threat is not just for London, the security threat can be anywhere during the Games.
"My opinion is that the security architecture of the Olympics has been held up for too long.
"I now think that we are making much faster progress and there will be quite substantial protection around the main venues.''
Johnson insisted that the quality of the Games will not be affected by the current economic climate and that they will not need to go beyond the budget of £9.3 billion, which includes a £2.747 billion contingecy fund.
He told the MPs: "The cost pressures now are the Village, the Media Centre and the Stadium. Obviously these are the biggest difficulties.
“We are looking at some changes, some economies we might be able to make.
"There are ongoing discussions about the venues and how we might bear down on expenditure.”
Johnson confirmed that alterations were being made to the Main Press Centre (MPC), being delivered by Carillion and Igloo, amid concerns over £160 million of private finance initially earmarked for the venue, the budget for which was revealed in the session to be £380 milion, lower than the £400 million than had been reported.
The public sector’s contribution for the venue was originally put at £220 million.
He said: “We have not reached the limit of our scope for modifications on the Media Centre."
But, again, the Mayor promised that there would be no shortcuts taken.
He said: "We have got to develop a Media Centre that is going to be successful, that is going to be approved of by the international media, otherwise they will do to London what they did to Atlanta [at the 1996 Olympics].
"They will attack the Games and they will react with negative publicity."
Johnson also pledged that the design of the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium will not be altered despite admitting the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was no closer to finding a legacy user for the scheme, which has now begun construction.
He said: “We’re not going to change the structure.
"You don’t monkey around with the specifications, because that drives the builders mad.”
That appears to signify that Johnson has finally given up on his pursuit of trying to persuade a Premiership football club, either West Ham United or Tottentham Hotspur, into becoming the anchor tennant after the Games.