London 2012: Capital ready to welcome the world, says IOC chief

International Olympic Committee inspectors issue a glowing report on their final visit to London before this summer's Games

By Sportsbeat
Denis Oswald
IOC member Denis Oswald concludes his final inspection visit ahead of this summer's Games

Denis Oswald

International Olympic Committee inspectors have issued a glowing report on their final visit to London before this summer’s Olympics – but urged organisers there was no room for complacency.

With just over 100 days to go until the opening ceremony, Denis Oswald’s co-ordination commission concluded their tenth three-day visit in a display of mutual back-slapping and congratulation with Seb Coe’s organising committee.

“London is ready to welcome the world,” said Oswald, whose experience of guiding London towards the Games couldn’t be more different from the same role he played before the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

“Seven years ago in Singapore the London team presented a vision and that is now becoming a reality and an outstanding event is being prepared, London is already feeling the fever of the Games.

“You can’t compare one Games to another but everything is ready and we still have the coming four months to make refinements and small improvements.

“The world expects a lot from London and I know that people will not be disappointed.

“The organisers are in the home straight and ahead of the race, if they remain focused and continue to work as hard as they have, I’m confident they will not be disappointed with the medal they get.

“My only advice to Seb and his team now is to keep concentrating until you’ve reached the finish line.”

A small knot of approximately 20 protesters opposed to Dow Chemical’s controversial sponsorship of the Games were outside the central London office building, where media were briefed on the inspection visit.

And Coe confirmed he would meet with those who believe the American multinational should do more for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, although they didn’t buy the company who ran the pesticide plant at the centre of tragedy, which claimed nearly 4,000 lives, until 15 years later.

“We realise the tragedy that Bhopal was but Dow Chemical was not the owner or running the plant at the time of the accident and we feel comfortable about our relationship with them,” added Oswald.

“Our sponsors are necessary, they contribute to the organisation of the Games, if their money was not available, then public money would have to be used.”

Oswald also expressed satisfaction with how organisers Locog had handled their under-fire ticketing strategy with four millions seats – approximately 2.5 million Olympic tickets, of which 1.5m are for football, and 1.5m Paralympic tickets – set to go back on sale in the coming weeks.

“The ticket situation is a result of the tremendous success of the Games,” he added.

“We are certainly not worried about the prospect of empty grandstands, which has been a concern at previous Games.

“We are fully confident in what Locog are doing and when the football draw is made we would expect more tickets for football to be sold. We are totally satisfied.”

Olympic officials also predicted they expected the majority of Olympic athletes to attend Danny Boyle’s showpiece opening ceremony, despite the three-hour show starting at 9pm.

“At every Games there are a number of athletes who don’t attend the ceremony because they have competitions in the following days,” added the IOC’s Games director Gilbert Felli.

“When it was decided to start the ceremony at nine we agreed on the condition that everything would be over at midnight.

“Unlike at other Games, the village is very close to the stadium and athletes can leave the ceremony before the end if they wish and 15 minutes later they can be in their beds.

“We anticipate that the majority of athletes will attend.”

© Sportsbeat 2012


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