|Iraqi Olympic Team to be Based in SW15 Area|
Tax surcharge may be needed to meet security costs
Putney is set to welcome the courageous athletes of Iraq when they come to compete in the 2012 Olympics. As part of a scheme to encourage greater interest in the event the teams from individual countries are to be based in various parts of London. The expectation is that the area will then become supporters of that country's competitors and will attract local people to less popular sports.
Iraqi Ambassador, His Excellency Kanbel Ivuvelfureet, said that the idea of basing the team in Putney came from none other than Ken Livingstone when he was Mayor of London. He told the Ambassador that he often received letters and e-mails from the residents of the area on subjects such as East Putney tube and the Putney overground railway and he thought there was no more suitable area to host the Iraqi team than SW15 and that he was sure Wandsworth Council would thank him for giving them the task.
The Iraqis anticipate having about 60 or 70 athletes at the event as well as 100 officials and protection officers. They are historically strong in Graeco-Roman wrestling, boxing and anticipate challenging for medals in the shooting events. The football team were finalists at a recent Asian games and the country will be hoping to make a big impact in that event. There are also plans to enter a team in the beach volley ball event although it is unlikely that the Iraqis will be as scantily clad as the Brazilian team.
The suggestion at this stage is that the team will be billeted at LTA National Tennis Centre and will be using their sports ground but will also have access to other facilities in the area such as The Bank of England and possibly the Roehampton Club.
The presence of the Iraqi team may require an extensive security effort. Iraqi athletes have often been on the receiving end of attacks from Islamist terrorists who disapprove of participation in events like the Olympics.
Amadán Aibreáin, spokesperson for Wandsworth Council, said that the expectation was that the host towns would be expected to meet the costs incurred as a result of the visit. This is likely to require a local tax surcharge of some variety as the bill is expected to run to several millions. One option being considered for raising revenue to cover these costs is a premium on existing parking and parking permit charges in the Putney area which would be introduced in 2012.
April 1st 2011