It is arguably one of the most important and prestigious construction contracts ever to have been tendered in the UK.

The consortium that will be chosen to oversee the London 2012 Olympic Games will not only plan the smooth running of its building programme, but will, along with the eyes of the world’s media, scrutinise the work of every company charged with completing the venues and infrastructure. Acting as the eyes, ears and strong right arm of the Olympic Delivery Authority, the winner will lead the design, construction, commissioning, programming, procurement and cost management of the Games, as well as ensuring the facilities have an afterlife once they’re over.

This week, after months of training, rehearsals and a gruelling two-week competitive dialogue with the ODA, the four shortlisted consortiums were due to give their final presentations to the ODA (see pages 22-23). The ODA panel will make their choice from three British-led consortiums, which include Amec, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Bovis Lend Lease, and the American Bechtel Corporation.

But should an overseas firm be selected to oversee London’s games? If you cast aside the strict European competition rules governing public sector procurement, and Whitehall’s inevitable audit of the bids, wouldn’t it be better for UK construction to showcase its own expertise on the world stage? Well, that will probably depend on whether you follow your heart and opt for a British team no matter what, or with your head, and go for the team that has the greatest expertise, financial muscle, contracting firepower, good judgment and ability to deliver.

The issue has become even more pressing now that Wembley’s prospects of hosting the 2007 FA cup final is under threat and Multiplex’s entry into adjudication with its client, Wembley National Stadium Limited. The compensation may be that the effort devoted to the successful planning of the Olympics can only become fiercer – so it is imperative that the management at the ODA follow their heads and make the right choice.