With exactly one year to go until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, organisers confirm that preparations for the Games are on track and London’s vision to host Olympic and Paralympic Games that inspire the world and acts as a catalyst for lasting change, is set to become reality.
Offering Londoners a small taste of the atmosphere the Games will bring to the city in the summer of 2012, the President of the International OIympic Committee Jacques Rogge will today join organisers and formally invite the athletes of the world to the Games next summer and unveil the Olympic medals at an event in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The Games next year will mark the end of a decade-long project, with London winning the bid in 2005 based on a vision to stage Games which would have athletes at its heart, inspire young people to choose sport, showcase iconic London and be a catalyst for transformation and lasting change. With just 365 days to go, London is on track to deliver on its promises, host spectacular Olympic and Paralympic Games and lay the foundations for significant social, sporting and economic legacies.
London’s progress in the last six years has been closely monitored and endorsed by the International Olympic Committee and construction of the Olympic Park, undertaken by the Olympic Delivery Authority, is now 88% complete. More than 3.5 million tickets have been sold so far, setting the scene for full venues at Games time and a sensational atmosphere for competing athletes. A quarter of a million people have applied to volunteer and interviews are now taking place to fill up to 70,000 roles. London 2012’s mascots Wenlock and Mandeville have been unveiled to the world, the Olympic sport schedule published, design of the Olympic Torch finalised, the initial route of the Olympic Torch Relay announced and London was given a snapshot of what it feels like to be an Olympic Host City when the giant Olympic rings were unveiled at St Pancras International station earlier this year.
Driving this extraordinary progress is British business. The newly constructed Olympic Park is a spectacular showcase for the very best in British design, engineering, creativity and security. A large swathe of east London has been regenerated, with the skyline forever changed by removing electricity pylons. In their place stand iconic sporting arena, a new housing development which will house the world’s athletes during the Games, and a brand new urban park which, after the Games, will become part of a brand new community in east London, delivering on the promise that the London Games would be the catalyst for lasting change in the area.
Transport links have been improved, waterways cleaned and communities reconnected and renewed. More than £6bn worth of contracts has been awarded to make this happen – 98% of them going to UK based firms. Many British firms have joined global companies in becoming sponsors of London 2012, providing nearly £700m towards the staging of the Games and helping deliver activation programmes which provide opportunities for current and aspiring athletes, as well as boosting sport participation across the UK.
The London 2012 Games will extend well beyond the host city and reflect the worldwide appeal of the Olympic movement. A key part of London’s bid commitments in Singapore in 2005 to inspire young people to choose sport, was the creation of the International Inspiration global sports development programme which, a year out from the Games, has already reached its target of 12 million young people now benefiting from organised sport in developing countries.
Teams from around the world are also confirming pre-Games training camps around the UK where they will be based in the run up to the Games. Over 80 agreements have been signed with facilities around the UK. These agreements will create excitement, investment and interest in communities as world class athletes prepare for competition.
With just twelve months before the Games begin, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) alongside its partners and stakeholders will now begin a sustained period of construction of its own. Venues will be turned into Olympic and Paralympic sporting theatres, a 17,000 seat hockey arena must be built, seating for the BMX track installed, two restaurants, a hospitality centre, sponsor pavilions and superstores constructed. Catering outlets and a range of spectator facilities must be installed. LOCOG will also be creating temporary venues around London – ExCeL will host seven Olympic and six Paralympic sports, Greenwich Park will provide a spectacular backdrop to Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events and a temporary stadium must be constructed at Horse Guards Parade for the Beach Volleyball competition. Venue plans reflect the bid commitment that venues would only be built if there was a legacy purpose after the Games had gone.
LOCOG has already begun the process of testing venues and between now and 2012, will hold 42 test events in 26 venues, working with partners to test venues, technology and teams to prepare for the events in 2012 itself when 15,000 athletes from over 200 countries will compete in the Olympic and Parlaympic Games for 4,400 medals. With them will be nearly 10,000 team officials, more than 4,000 representatives and officials from the 26 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports and over 20,000 accredited media will be in London reporting on the Games, with a similar number of unaccredited media expected. LOCOG is set to award more than £700m worth of contracts, including purchasing more than 900,000 pieces of sporting equipment, as well as providing all catering with more than 14 million meals expected to be served and in-venue security.
Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Sebastian Coe said: “With a year to go we are inviting the athletes, spectators and visitors from around the world to come to the UK next summer – it’s ‘London Calling’. Waiting for them will be a spectacular festival of sport and culture in the world’s greatest city, which will be more magical and vibrant than ever. There is much to do in the next twelve months, but we can take huge comfort in the progress that has been made so far. We are absolutely on track and determined to stage Olympic and Paralympic Games which will deliver on the promises we made in Singapore, inspire the athletes and make the nation proud.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge said: ‘One year to go is a special time for any host nation. It is the moment when the International Olympic Committee invites the National Olympic Committees and their athletes to attend the Games, when Olympic dreams start to come into focus, and when the world turns its attention in earnest to the city that will welcome it in only 365 days’ time. London has come a long way since its election in 2005 in Singapore and the 2012 team and its partners are to be congratulated for their work. London 2012 is now ideally placed not just to deliver top level Olympic competition but also to leave a great legacy to the British people. I wish London well as it enters its final year of preparations and testing and I am confident that next summer this great city will once again do the Olympic movement proud.’
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “With the London Games just a year away this ceremony marks the most important milestone to date on the journey to the London Games. We will be looking forward to next summer with great excitement. Our venues are nearly all complete and our preparations to ensure all our visitors can experience the Games wherever they are in the capital are well advanced. With a year to go we can safely say we are ready to welcome the world.”
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt said: ‘As we celebrate this milestone in our countdown to the 2012 Games, it is well worth noting the success we have achieved so far in this enormous project. It’s on time and on budget, the majority of venues are built and testing is well underway. In all, it is a showcase of the best of British construction, creativity, teamwork and achievement. As we look ahead to July next year, I want to welcome the world to London and the UK. We are a vibrant and diverse country, rich with history and culture. One need look no further than the Olympic Park to see that.’
BOA Chairman Lord Moynihan, said: ‘With one year to go to the Olympic Games all 2012 Olympic hopefuls in the United Kingdom are focused on one thing: Olympic qualification. No one should underestimate just how challenging it will be simply to qualify for Team GB. Across all of our summer sports, the talent and depth is unprecedented. Our aspiration for Team GB in London 2012 is therefore to win more medals across more sports than in Beijing 2008. Knowing full well that we have gone from being the hunters to being the hunted, no detail is being overlooked and absolutely nothing is being left to chance. For London 2012, the 550 athletes competing across 26 sports will be the best prepared, best supported British Olympic Team in history. We are there for the athletes and no stone will be left unturned in our support to the athletes.’
ODA Chairman John Armitt said: ‘With 6 main venues complete and 90% of construction work finished, the 1 year to go stage is the latest milestone in one of Europe’s biggest construction projects being delivered on time and within budget. A project of this scale and complexity has not been seen in the UK for generations. An area the size of Hyde Park needed to be cleaned and cleared of decades of industrial contamination before construction work could even start. Millions of tonnes of soil were cleaned and over 200 buildings demolished. In their place are new world-class sports venues and new housing, thousands of new trees and plants, cleaned and widened waterways, and a new backbone of bridges, roads and utilities infrastructure. All delivered on time and budget. This is a ringing endorsement of the ability of this country to successfully deliver major projects and a testament to the expertise of the tens of thousands of workers and UK businesses who have worked on the Olympic Park over the last five years. With the main Olympic Park venues ready a year before the Games as planned, we are ready to handover to Seb Coe’s Organising Committee who are on track to stage a great Games in 2012.’
London is also on track to deliver a significant and tangible legacy with more opportunities for people to play sport in better facilities. The city will be left with world class sporting facilities and significant investment by both the Government and Mayor of London will see more young people participating in sport, more coaches and a better sporting infrastructure. The London 2012 Inspire programme has seen 450 new sporting initiatives across every nation and region of the UK. New standards of sustainability have been adopted across the construction of the Olympic Park, which are now becoming industry standard.
LOCOG is also committed to making sure that the London 2012 Games will be the most accessible possible and that everyone has the opportunity to be involved with the Games. Specific innovations include the Ticketcare programme which allowed disabled people to apply for a free additional carer or Personal Assistant ticket if they were successful in their ticketing application, accessibility improvements to London along the River Walk which are giving disabled visitors the opportunity to enjoy an enhanced City experience while they are here for the Games, and a dedicated web page, www.london2012.com/accessibility, which provides disabled people with the information for a wide range of topics including transport, Blue Badge parking at London 2012 venues and accommodation.