Forget the World Cup. The biggest show on Earth is the Olympics, and the good news is we’ve already won it
Since July 2005, all eyes have been fixed on a stretch of waste ground in east London, to see if it can be transformed into one of the world’s biggest, and best, urban sports parks. Now, with two years until the world descends on Stratford, and just one year until the test events, Building has gained unlimited access to the Olympic site to see how the venues are progressing, as well as to catch up with the man in charge of it all, David Higgins. But first, over to someone who knows a thing or two about Olympic success …
I am delighted to introduce this special issue about the London 2012 Games. As we approach the two years to go mark, it is a fitting time to look back at how much has been achieved in the project so far while looking forward to the many challenges ahead.
Having competed at and visited Games in various capacities since 1980, I know the great opportunities that hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games can bring to a host nation. Each host city before us has grasped this opportunity in its own unique way and I have every confidence that we can deliver a memorable British Games.
Our vision has always been to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change in all areas of life. One way that we have done this is to use the Games and sport as the catalyst for regeneration and delivering long-term change in a part of east London where it is needed most.
It is the Olympic park site that offers the most tangible example so far of the lasting legacy. Its construction is creating a fantastic stage for athletes in 2012 and leaving new world-class venues, as well as delivering homes, parklands and infrastructure that will serve Londoners for generations to come.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), its partners and contractors, have done a fantastic job in overseeing the delivery of the Olympic park so far. Huge projects like this will never be without their challenges and we are facing the proverbial marathon, not a sprint. But the ODA has run a smart race so far, tackling many hurdles such as the changing economic climate and a difficult time for the construction industry, without the project veering off track.
It is also a testament to the wider British construction industry that one of the biggest construction challenges in Europe remains firmly on track and on budget. We have always said this will be “Everyone’s Games” and the thousands of companies from across the UK helping build the Olympic park make it clear this really is the case.
So far, so good, and while work continues apace on the construction of the Olympic park, there is also strong momentum at the London Organising Committee as our teams work to get everything in place to stage the Games.
Our budget remains at £2bn and is raised from the private sector, except for a small public contribution for Paralympic transition. More than 30 domestic sponsors have been secured, raising over £600m in private finance. Our “Sign Up” ticketing programme has been launched with more than 1 million people already registering their interest in Olympic and Paralympic tickets. Work is well under way planning the test events that will take place at Games venues next year.
We have also welcomed the latest members of the 2012 family, our new mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, who are no strangers to the construction industry, having been created from the last drops of steel left over from the final support beam for the Olympic stadium!
So it is an exciting time across the project and next week is our chance to demonstrate how much has been achieved when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) comes to London to view the preparations.
I’m confident it’ll be impressed with the progress made on the project since its last visit six months ago.
As the various features in this special edition show, the project remains in great shape but there is no room for complacency. With many challenges still ahead of us, not least in the construction of the Olympic park, I look forward to the continued support from people across the UK to help us make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and deliver a memorable Games we can all be proud of.
Seb Coe is chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee