London 2012: Paul Deighton praise for Olympic volunteers

Locog chief Paul Deighton looking forward to the role of volunteers contributing to a successful Olympic Games

olympic rings
The Olympic rings have been installed at Heathrow Airport Photo: Locog/Getty Images

olympic rings

Locog chief executive Paul Deighton is looking forward to the role of volunteers contributing to a successful London 2012 Olympic Games.

There were 250,000 applications to be a Games volunteer, with 70,000 interviewed and picked to help make the Olympics run smoothly.

Deighton, who was at Heathrow Airport in London to unveil Olympic Rings installed in Terminal Five, believes the volunteers of all ages could determine how successful the Games are.

“The volunteers are absolutely crucial,” said Deighton.

“They’re the difference from having a good and a great Games. When you visit here for the Games, it’s not me they’re going to meet and it’s not our chairman Seb Coe – it’s our volunteers.

“They’re the people who create the experience for our visitors. They’re the people who create the long-lasting memories that people will take away from the Games, so they’re vitally important.

“We wanted to make sure our volunteer force was a great mix – young, old, men, women, people from different backgrounds, and people from different ethnic groups.

“So, what you’ll see when you meet our volunteers is the great range of diversity of people we have in this country.”

Deighton is confident that Heathrow – which recently received negative press over queuing times – will handle the pressure of thousands of visitors.

And the 56-year-old believes that competitors, officials and tourists will get a buzz from the moment they see the rings at the world-famous airport.

He said: “You can almost see it here this morning; people look up and get smiles on their faces, that sense of excitement.

“It’s one of the most powerful, recognized symbols in the world. When you come through those arrival doors, you know you’re in a special city at a very special time, and it just creates the right mood for the summer of a spectacular festival.

“There’s been a very significant amount of planning being done by us along with all the parties that operate in Heathrow to make sure that we’re ready to cope with the extra crowds and the special requirements that the Olympics have.

“The amount of time and planning that has gone into it gives me enormous confidence that Heathrow will actually create a first and last impression that this country can be proud of.”

Nick Cole, BAA’s head of Olympic operations at Heathrow, has likened the operations at the airport’s new Olympic terminal to opening ceremonies.

He believes Heathrow has shown it can cope with the demand, and is determined the airport can show off its own medal potential.

“Danny Boyle, in my view, has the easy job,” said Cole.

“He only has to conduct one opening ceremony. We will have to conduct thousands of little opening ceremonies here at the gates of Heathrow.

“Heathrow has it’s own medal events -the first medal event for us is the arrivals on June 27, for 30 days.

“Our second medal event will be departures. The days after the closing ceremony are set to be the busiest days ever for both passengers and bags.

“There is our third medal event – the small matter of our day job. All of us here at Heathrow are in the business of getting 200,000 people in and out every day, and we intend to win gold in all three of those events.”

© Sportsbeat 2012

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