With just 100 days to go until the 2012 Olympics in London, Lord Coe said yesterday he believes Team GB will shine on home turf.
"I expect Team GB, given the advantages of home crowds, and the ability to prepare at home, I expect them to perform extremely well," Coe, the head of the organising committee, said. "Certainly as well they did in Beijing."
To this end, access to tickets for friends and family of the British athletes has been improved it was announced yesterday. The UK Athletics chief executive, Niels de Vos, described it as "essentially a performance decision". Athletes could be in line to receive up to five pairs of tickets across the 20 athletics sessions, including the race walk and marathon.
De Vos said: "This is essentially a performance decision – the last thing we want athletes to be worrying about is the cost or availability of tickets for their mum and dad, boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife. But it is also about recognising that without the massive support and sacrifice of friends and family, over many years, most athletes would never have made it to elite level."
While there have been mixed feelings among some Londoners regarding the 2012 Games, Coe said he has never seen this amount of excitement among athletes across the globe. "There is an unprecedented appetite among elite level competitors around the world to get to London. That's the one thing I've learnt. I don't think any Games have ever had that level of excitement. If ever I need reminding that I'm delivering the games to the whole world, the last six months have told me that's what we're doing."
Coe was also confident security would not be a concern and that the balance between too much and too little would be struck. "The police and security services in this country have been planning and preparing for these Games for seven years," he said. "It's been probably the most integrated pieces of the project, and we're all working to deliver a safe and secure Games. But, and this is a very big but, there has to be proportionality here. We do not want people coming to London, any more than they came to Sydney, feeling that they were in a siege city," Coe said. "So we need to make sure that we get the balance right, and I'm sure we will.
"It's a big day for us: 100 days to go. I think that we recognise that this is the moment that we really do start getting ready for celebrating and welcoming the world. Not just the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic competitors that will be with us."