The financial facts seem to speak for themselves. When London stages the Olympic games in 2012, the estimated total budget is some ¬£3.5bn, but just two years from now the Chinese will spend some ¬£22bn putting on essentially the same show. So it seems logical to assume London is trying to do it on the cheap.
A tour round the planned Olympic site, a 30-minute drive north of the Forbidden City in Beijing, certainly gives the impression of a monumental event in the offing. Cranes and half-completed structures fill the skylines, with armies of yellow-hatted construction workers hard at the task of building a new city; the hoardings that shield the sites from view show how the futuristic venues will look, with perhaps the most stunning being the 91,000-seat ‘Birdsnest’ stadium, scene of the opening and closing events and most of the big competitions in between.