Ex-head of Channel Tunnel group Transmanche-Link is chosen to chair Olympic Delivery Authority.

The government has picked the chairman for the new Olympic Delivery Authority, the body charged with building the key venues, facilities and infrastructure for the 2012 Games in London.

The Department of Media Culture and Sport has gone for Jack Lemley, who ran the Anglo-French group that designed and built the £8bn Channel Tunnel.

Announcing the appointment, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said: "This is a big job. It's one of the biggest business challenges in the world and one of the biggest jobs in the construction industry. I am delighted to welcome Jack Lemley to the 2012 team as chair of the ODA. He will bring a wealth of experience to the task of preparing the ground for the biggest sporting event in the world to come to London."

From 1989 to 1993, Jack Lemley was chief executive of Transmanche-Link, the consortium of five British and five French companies responsible for constructing and equipping the Channel Tunnel, the largest privately-funded construction project in history. He now runs his own consultancy in the United States with high-profile contracts including reviewing the management of the $14bn Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

Lemley said: "Getting ready the venues and the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the ultimate task for any businessman, with the ultimate deadline, a completion date that cannot be moved, even by one day. I am raring to go."

"But this is an opportunity, as well as a daunting multi-billion pound challenge - showing Britain delivering on time, on budget, by marshalling the talents of many thousands of executives, specialists and construction workers. I know how important it is that we have a good working relationship from day one with our trades unions,” he added.

Tessa Jowell met Mr Lemley last week, along with the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

Jowell said: "What impressed us most about Jack was his track record of delivering massive and complex projects such as the Channel Tunnel and the way he turned around its fortunes. This was coupled with a clear vision of how to ensure success for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and a lasting legacy, to which he is deeply committed,"

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, welcomed the announcement:

He said: "I am very pleased that Jack Lemley has been appointed to this pivotal role delivering the Games. He brings an impressive track record of guiding major infrastructure projects to successful completion. I look forward to working with him to make the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games the greatest ever."

The Olympic Delivery Authority will come into existence when the London Olympics Bill completes its parliamentary stages, expected to be in the first half of 2006. The Bill passed its Committee Stage in October and is due to return to the House of Commons in the next few weeks for its Report Stage and Third Reading.

Jack Lemley will serve as chair of the ODA for an initial four-year term, beginning formally when the Bill becomes law.

In the meantime, he will be joined in preparatory work on the ODA by a new chief executive, who will be named later this month.

Critical work that cannot wait until the ODA comes into being is being undertaken by an Interim Olympic Delivery Authority team, working as part of the London Development Agency and Transport for London. This work includes setting up the necessary organisational structures, financial processes and management, and taking forward some procurement.