A success story that can’t be told

Editor

Some readers might be surprised that with the 2012 Olympics  now just months away, The Engineer isn’t awash with stories of how engineers will help deliver this summer’s centrepiece.

After all – when London won the bid to host the Olympics –  it wasn’t just the sport that got people talking. The event would, everyone agreed,  put the skills and expertise of hundreds of UK companies on a world stage, and deliver untold economic benefits for many years to come.

And while some might be tempted to view the paucity of Olympic engineering stories as evidence that all is not well in Stratford, there is little to suggest  that London’s 2012 plans are anything other than a success story.

From one of the lightest and most efficient Olympic stadiums ever built, to a host of stunning new venues and an unimaginably complex network of tunnels, bridges, roads and power infrastructure, London’s Olympic project is on time and on budget.

Unfortunately the majority of the companies behind this success story aren’t allowed to talk about it.

The sticking point is the London 2012 “No Marketing Rights Protocol”, a contract that forbids companies working on London 2012 from marketing their involvement in the games.

Drawn up to protect the interests of the Olympic’s main sponsors, it’s a startlingly proscriptive document.  Suppliers are forbidden from talking to media about work on games, even warned against referring too enthusiastically to the Olympics involvement in internal memos, and generally stripped of any opportunity to gain much advantage from their association with the games.

‘The ODA want businesses through the supply chain to be proud of the contribution they are making toward the success of the games’ reads the document. It might as well as add ‘so long as they don’t tell anyone about it’

With 6 months to go, there’s still time to address this, and to help ensure that UK businesses, and the UK economy, can extract maximum advantage from its involvement in the Olympics.

The government must work now with Olympic authorities to help ensure that UK businesses can talk more freely about their role in London 2012. Failure to make this happen will be a failure to deliver on the promised economic legacy of the games.