JULY 11 - A ROW has broken out in Wales over the decision to send an Assembly Government official on a £14,750 trip to the Beijing Olympics in preparation for London 2012.


The Conservatives have claimed that the figure is "staggering".


Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said: “This seems like a staggering amount of money just to send one person to China later this year.


"This expenditure is an insult to people across Wales who are having to tighten their belts due to the current economic slowdown and to the many worthy causes that have had their funding cut or withdrawn due to the rising costs of the London Games.”


But a spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said the bill of just under £15,000 was the total cost of promoting Wales at the Beijing Games and would help market Wales to countries competing at the London Games in 2012 and looking to set up pre-Games training camps.


He said: “That represents the cost of promoting Wales at the Beijing Games, not just sending an official to the Games.


“The Beijing Games is the biggest opportunity we will have to make countries that will be competing in London 2012 further aware of what Wales has to offer in terms of pre-training camps and tourism.


“It is part of an effort to market Wales which has already been on-going behind the scenes since London won the Games.


"We are already ahead of the game by attracting one of the largest Paralympic teams to Wales for its pre-Games training camp."


It has been claimed that the Australian Paralympic team will base themselves in Wales in 2012.


The spokesman said: “The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to gaining maximum benefit for Wales for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.”


The Assembly Government official will travel to the games with the Nations and Regions delegation organised by Visit Britain and British Olympic Association (BOA).


No Assembly Ministers are attending the Games but a second official will be in Beijing for a few days paid for by the BOA, the spokesman said.


The Tories’ Shadow Culture Minister Paul Davies AM said: “We completely support our athletes who are travelling to compete with the British team in August.


"But the Assembly Government needs to justify why this trip will cost so much money.”