Full steam ahead with 100 days to go to London 2012
11:28am Wednesday 18th April 2012
LONDON 2012 organisers say they are ready to welcome the world to the Olympics in 100 days’ time.
A series of events have been planned to highlight the landmark as the countdown to the Games begins in earnest.
London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said the preparations are proceeding according to plan – being both on time and within budget.
Deighton said: ‘‘We are absolutely where we want to be with 100 days to go – we are ready to welcome the world to London.
‘‘Millions of people around the UK are getting ready to celebrate the biggest event in sport.
‘‘Eight million of the 11million tickets have been sold to people in Britain and we are sure that Brits will get hold of a chunk of the other 3million too.’’ Many of the test events have already been held at the venues, but a big one comes on the first weekend of May with a cluster of events in the Olympic Park where 80,000 people are expected to attend, including 50,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium to watch the London Disability Athletics Challenge.
Deighton said many lessons had already been learned from the test events, including in relation to security procedures.
There have also been opportunities to improve some of the venues for sports.
The BMX track has been altered to cut the effect of high wind at the first jump, and the surface has also been changed after rain at the test event last August caused problems for the cyclists.
Modern pentathlon have brought in changes to their shooting event, while the basketball arena has been altered so that players do not have to go outside when walking from their waiting area into the arena.
Deighton said: ‘‘The test events have done what we really wanted them to do which was to give a real test on the field of play, to make sure that the surfaces and technology is right.
‘‘It also gives an opportunity to bring the workforce for that venue together in an operational sense, and experience how the team operates at that venue.
‘‘It has been quite reassuring.
Things have gone wrong, because things always do go wrong at events, and the issue is to have the teams in place to fix these things.
‘‘Nothing however has made us radically change our plans.’’ Organisers have also been able to monitor the speed of queues while spectators are going through security checks. This was tested rigorously at the beach volleyball event at Horse Guards Parade, a stone’s throw from the House of Commons, where it emerged that even the weather could have an effect on the movement of the queues.
‘‘We have been forensic with what we have tested, where,’’ added Deighton.
‘‘At Horse Guards Parade with beach volleyball we did a very careful test of the security screening and understanding what makes lines go faster and slower.
‘‘It is very helpful to know the effect of rain on the speed of the lines for example.’’ Deighton is also supremely confident that all revenue targets will be exceeded – the remaining ticket sales alone should easily cover the £200million gap to reach the revenue target.
Income from sponsors has already exceeded the target and merchandise sales will add to that.
KEY LONDON LANDMARKS
THE centre-piece of the Games was built for £468million, slightly under budget, and was handed over to the organising committee more than a year ago, on March 29, 2011, for fitting out.
The remaining issue relating to the stadium is a big one still: the legacy of the stadium and what happens to it after the Games.
Building work on the 2,818 apartments was completed in January. That left six months for organisers to install the 16,000 beds, 64,000 bed sheets, 21,000 pillows, 9,000 wardrobes, 11,000 sofas, 5,000 bins and 5,000 toilet brushes.
The Village will become private homes after the Games.
Construction was completed in July 2011 for an estimated cost of £269m, three times more than was originally budgeted.
The venue was designed by architect Zaha Hadid with a spectacular wave-like roof. After the Games, the two temporary wings will be removed, reducing the capacity to 3,500, and it will be used by the community and for elite swimmers, including international competitions.
The first Olympic Park venue to be completed, as far back as February 2011, and for around £93million, slightly under budget.
After the Games, the 6,000- seat venue will be run under a joint agreement by British Cycling, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the National Cycling Centre in Manchester and the Glasgow-based Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
London 2012 organisers wasted little time in seeking out sponsors after winning the IOC vote in 2005. The fact they clinched so many deals early on meant they were not unduly affected when the credit crunch led to a global recession. London have now exceeded their sponsorship revenue target and are expected to raise more than £700m.
Tickets have been a controversial area for London organisers but apart from some matches in the football tournament, they have sold like hot cakes. Total ticket revenues are expected to beat initial projections of £400m and reach in excess of £600m.