London is preparing to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, which get under way in July. (Photo by Michael Pead, via Wikimedia Commons, cc-by-sa.)
London's multi-billion dollar investment in the Olympics will be on display for the entire world to see in just a few months. the last minute preparations are being made in order to welcome more than 15,000 athletes and tens of thousands of tourists.
London is just a few months away from hosting the 2012 Olympics games.
The venues are nearly ready and plans are in place to welcome tens of thousands of tourists to the British capital, though the airlines are warning of the potential for mass chaos.
Paul Deighton, Chief Executive Officer of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games said the project, one of the largest a city can plan, was one of a kind.
“I don’t think anyone’s been involved in a project like this. This is immense in terms of scale compared to just about anything else,” Deighton said.
Some 16,500 Olympic and Paralympic athletes are expected to be in town. They’ll be greeted by 20,000 journalists; compete at 35 different venues; and stay, eat and experience 150 total venues. Then there are the crowds. About 11 million tickets have been sold for the different events.
“It’s just massive in terms of scale,” Deighton said.
Deighton said one of the biggest challenges has been integrating all of the Olympic venues within the mature, old city of London. he contrasted that to the emerging and developing markets that have been awarded the majority of upcoming World Cup and Olympic events. Those, he said, have much more room to build.
“We’re clearly a very mature city here in London. We had to think very, very carefully about value for money,” he said. “It’s still, I think, the main consideration for the population here. the legacy, as we describe it, has been absolutely fundamental to everything that went on as we constructed the bid right through the build process.”
The goal, Deighton said, is to have payback on the investment made in the games. he pointed to the £6 billion Olympic Park in east London as an area that could see major benefits. the goal, he said, is to raise east London to the same socio-economic standards as the more affluent west London.
Deighton said the return on the seven-year build-up to the Olympics would be like a 20-year national program.
“Theoretically, you ought to be able to spend the money absent the games, it just never happens,” he said. “Because, the time-table, the deadline, are critical. the emotion and the psychological impacts of hosting the world’s biggest event and having the world come to town, is immense.”
Deighton said it can sometimes be hard to judge where the economic impact stops and the inspirational impact begins. but you need both, he argued, to have a great project.
This is the third time the Olympics have been held in London, first back in 1908 and then in 1948.
“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. the show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, the New York Times Radio, and WGBH Radio Boston.