The Olympics, planning and the Eurozone were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s (PM) thoughts on empty seats at Olympic venues, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that it was disappointing. The PM had been updated earlier at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the Olympics (CCO). The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) had reassured the PM that action had been taken to try to ensure that more seats were filled. Tickets had been released for sale to the public and empty accredited seats had been offered to troops and young people. The issue was largely about accredited seats allocated to the members of the Olympic family not being used and it was difficult to predict when accredited seats would be filled by members of the Olympic family each day.
Asked if the International Olympics Committee (IOC) had agreed to make a reduction in the size of the accredited seating areas, the PMS said that the number of accredited seats was lower than there had been at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
Asked if the Olympic family should be extended to include competitors’ families, the PMS said that LOCOG were looking at options to ensure that as many people as possible could enjoy the games in the Olympic venues.
Asked if the PM agreed with Lord Moynihan’s view that any seats not taken up within half an hour should be released, the PMS said that the PM was keen to see as many people as possible enjoying the games in the Olympic venues.
In response to questions about who attended CCO meetings, the PMS said that the meetings were chaired by either the PM or another Cabinet Minister and that various bodies involved in organising the games were represented at different levels which changed day by day.
Asked if the PM thought that there was enough enthusiasm for the Olympics around the UK, the PMS said that the reaction to the Olympic torch relay around the UK had been beyond expectations.
Asked for the PM’s view a story in the Financial Times which alleged that the world’s top business leaders were using their visit to the Olympics to question the Coalition Government’s management of the UK economy, the PMS said that the PM wanted to use the games to showcase what Britain could do and that it was important to take advantage of the Olympics while there were so many representatives from governments and businesses visiting the UK.
Asked if the PM had been consulted about the opening ceremony and whether he’d had any influence on the content, the PMS said that the ceremony was Danny Boyle’s creation and that Ministers had been kept informed of plans for the opening ceremony. The Government had doubled the budget for the ceremony because it felt that it was such a fantastic showcase for the Olympics and for Britain.
Asked if the commentary from the beach volleyball competition could be heard from No10 and whether the PM had seen any of it, the PMS confirmed that one could not hear the commentary and that the competition could be heard from No10, but that a clear view of the event was not possible from No10.
Asked if any staff employed by G4S hadn’t turned up for work, the PMS said that G4S had continued to provide a number of security staff and that G4S had been working alongside the military and the police to ensure that we had a safe and secure games. We would not be providing a running commentary on security staff numbers.
Asked if the PM felt that the Olympics would help with the campaign to keep Scotland as part of the UK, the PMS said that the PM was keen to see that the Olympics benefited all parts of the UK and that the Scottish response to the Olympic torch relay had been very enthusiastic.
Asked if the PM thought that we had to step it up to win more medals, the PMS said that the PM was delighted by the medals that had been won so far and the games had only just begun, there was plenty of time yet.
Asked if the Government was planning to relax planning laws in the Autumn, the PMS referred the questioner to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Asked if the change of tone from members of the Eurozone had boosted the PM’s confidence that something would be done, the PMS said that it was positive that discussions were ongoing but urgent action needed to be taken by the Eurozone to address the issues. They had made some steps forward and it was in the UK’s interest to see a stable Euro area.