By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
August 3, 2011
According to USA Today and other media outlets covering the countdown, 2012 London Games organizers are "pleased with what they’ve done and confident they’ll put on a great show."
“We stand exactly where we want to be. We’ve met every deadline. ... We’re in good shape,” proclaimed LOCOG Chairman and former British track star Sebastian Coe. Olympic Park is roughly 90% complete, with three of the Park’s five entertainment venues for Olympic competition now open. London’s signature aquatics complex also opened during last week’s official one-year-out ceremony. Trial events around the city have begun, with the first one in Olympic Park itself scheduled for August 16, in the Games’ temporary recyclable basketball arena, which will house men’s preliminary games, women’s games through the quarterfinals, and all handball medal matches. (The remaining basketball games will be held at London’s O2 Arena, owned by AEG.)
Not only is construction running ahead of schedule, it is reportedly also running below its US $13 billion budget. "The Olympic Park has already transformed the east London skyline,” Coe emphasized. “Record fundraising is in place to stage the Games, and we have a world-class team of experts working on the delivery of London 2012.”
Having English as the native language has helped ease international communications around facility development issues that complicated the 2008 Beijing Games, and the London event is also remarkably absent of Beijing’s many protests and the frantic rush to finish venues seen in Athens in 2004. But as the Guardian notes, several major temporary venues must still be built from scratch, including a 15,000 seat hockey stadium, a 23,000 capacity equestrian facility at Greenwich Park.
Perhaps the most notable temporary venue yet to be erected will be the 15,000 seat beach volleyball bowl on Royal Horse Guard’s Parade—familiar to the billions of people who watched Prince William and Kate follow the route on their April wedding day. More than 4,000 tons of sand will arrive just in time for what’s being promoted as the crown jewel of the 2012 Games—a short trot from the steps of Buckingham Palace.
IOC President Jacques Rogge has also reportedly been reassured by U.K. Minister for Sport & Olympics Hugh Robertson that the Games’ security strategy is sound, despite the recent resignations of the London Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson and assistant commissioner John Yates. Olympics security officials are also reexamining their plans in the wake of July’s terrorist attack in Norway that killed more than 60 people.