Everyone is so keen on a British Olympic bid that they're failing to ask whether London really wants to host the games – let alone whether it actually can
Will Britain get the Olympic Games in 2012? The government has appointed consultants "to consider the costs and benefits of mounting a bid". The British Olympic Association is enthusiastic.

Sport England is optimistic about plans to build a national stadium at Wembley which, if it is ever actually constructed, could – maybe – house the Olympics.

Nobody seems to be asking if we actually want or need the Olympics in London, or how we would cope with it in the event of a successful bid.

There seems to be a widespread belief that, if only we can get a stadium – even better, a stadium in the right location – the solutions to all other problems will follow.

I would be very surprised if, come April, a clear decision is made to go ahead with a national stadium on the basis of guaranteed, privately raised funding. I would be even more surprised if convertibility for athletics is an integral part of the plan and a categorical completion date is promised.

As the government recognises, a stadium alone will not be enough, even if we get one equipped to accommodate the Olympics. That is why Tessa Jowell, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, having rightly insisted that the government not put a penny of taxpayers' money into building a stadium, has committed the government in principle to helping with "infrastructure".

But unless hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pounds of public money are put into such infrastructure (there is no chance whatever of our prudent chancellor coughing up this sort of money), then the real problems of access will not be solved and even a successful Olympic bid could turn out to be a fiasco.

Novels have been written about London seizing up one day. That day could arrive with the Olympics

It can be argued that Barcelona and Sydney coped very well, and that Barcelona even made the Olympics a vehicle for urban regeneration and transport transformation. But these two cities, though great by their own nations' standards, are pygmies compared to London.

London is one of the most congested urban areas on earth. Its transport system struggles to cope with commuters and shoppers. The average speed of traffic is a little over 9 mph. Already its streets are hopelessly clogged, as I have reason to know. In the summer months particularly, I have to fight my way along the pavements through mobs of tourists to get into the House of Commons.

You may have experienced the massed ranks converging on parts of London for food, entertainment and hotel space. What the addition of another 100,000 would be like does not bear thinking about. Horror novels have been written about London seizing up completely one day. That day could arrive with the Olympics.

Conversely, if the massive expenditure required was miraculously made available and solved all the problems, it might turn out to be excessive for the post-games period. The areas directly affected by the Olympics and the tourism spin-off might not necessarily be the parts of London most in need of improved infrastructure and transport.

For the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Malaysia spent enormous sums, which it could ill afford, not only on a huge stadium for which it now has little use but on an elegant train link that was irrelevant to Kuala Lumpur's overall transport requirements.

Major international sporting events are always a huge headache for their host cities even when, as in the cases of Barcelona and Sydney, they leave a happy afterglow. When they are less successful, or even fail, as happened with the Olympics in Atlanta and the World Student Games in Sheffield, they can leave a bitter aftertaste – and a huge financial hangover.