London 2012: Almost ready

Friday February 24 2012

Photo/AFP/ODA/Anthony Charlton  An aerial view of the Olympic Park project with the main Olympic Stadium shaped as a bicycle wheel. Spectators will be able to cross the river to get to the two stadiums easily and conveniently.

Photo/AFP/ODA/Anthony Charlton An aerial view of the Olympic Park project with the main Olympic Stadium shaped as a bicycle wheel. Spectators will be able to cross the river to get to the two stadiums easily and conveniently. 

By AYUMBA AYODI

With about five months remaining until the London Olympic Games, organisers are putting final touches to facilities in readiness to what promises to be one of the biggest sporting festival in recent times.

During a recent tour of the city of London to gauge the progress of the Games’ preparations, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog) said the Games, which will cost hosts Britain an estimated 9.4b Pounds (Ksh1.2 trillion), are on budget despite the hefty cuts on public expenditure by the government. 

An estimated 15,000 Olympic and 4,500 Paralympic athletes and their officials will be housed at the Olympic Village, which has shops, restaurants, medical, media and leisure facilities.

The organisers hope that the Games will leave a legacy that will be felt in 150 years to come not only in transforming the East London area that had been deprived, but the whole of Britain, in terms of improved sports facilities, housing, transport system, environment and tourism.

Director for Olympics, Paralympics and Great Campaign, Andrew Mitchell said funds raised from domestic companies have sustained their expenditure.

“We bided for the games and had to take the responsibility of staging the most spectacular event ever,” said Mitchell.

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“I can comfortably state that we are on budget and on time for the Game.”

Mitchell said Britain recognises that the Olympic Games was an enormous investment to take on, but one that will create a centre of opportunities in staging other major international sports festivals in future besides economically empowering the local community.

With infrastructure alone costing 6b Pounds, Britain envisages a growth of 1b Pounds in business after the games, especially after 68 per cent of locally based companies involved in both small and big business were given contracts and tenders in various engagements.

The whole Olympic Park project is on the 2.5 square kilometres area that was once industrial, contaminated land and has been rapidly transformed over the last few years at a cost of 5b pounds (Ksh660 billion) with the main Olympic Stadium requiring 486m pounds (Ksh54.6 billion).

So far 95 per cent of the area has been reclaimed with 80 per cent of material from the site especially the soil being replenished and retained at its original area to create a sustainable environment.

Several underground river channels and two rivers on the ground have been rehabilitated. 

The main Olympic Stadium, that adopted the simple design of a bicyle-wheel and able to accommodate 80,000 people, is almost compete with only the roofing and lighting remaining to be finished.

Senior designer Philip Johnson said that they did not focus a lot on the success or failure of the Beijing National Stadium per se, but responded to the current economic times, the need for an all-inclusive park for both Olympics and Paralympic athletes, the environment and greater good of the local community.

“Unlike the previous games where the venues were scattered, the present park is conventional and people will cross the river on both sides to get to the two venues with ease,” said Johnson.

The cable supported roof made of lightweight polymer structure will cover approximately two thirds of the stadium’s seating hence conducive for athletics.

London will showcase itself to the world by providing a fully equipped media centre in the heart of the city beside the Olympic Park Media Centre (OPMC).

The centre will host 25,000 journalists and other representatives from international media organisations.

The Media Centre will be based directly opposite the City Hall along One Great George Street.

The Centre will have work places for over 250 journalists, with press conference facilities that can sit 200 members of the media.

An estimated 4.7 billion viewers will watch the 2012 London Olympic Games opening ceremony across the world.

Britain is not taking any chances on the security of the games and will seek the support of its allies including Nato and the United States of America if possible.

The 600 million-Pound Olympics security budget has been protected from spending cuts and won’t be affected by the tough measures aimed at reducing Britain’s budget deficit.

The 10,000 security guards contracted for the games will not be enough so some additional 6,000 soldiers will be considered.