Everything still going to plan for all the fun and Games

Six months remain before London hosts the 30th Olympiad. By Tom Peck

Friday 27 January 2012 11:00
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Lord Coe: 'The Olympics has been a fantastic catalyst in a very difficult economic
environment'
Lord Coe: 'The Olympics has been a fantastic catalyst in a very difficult economic environment'

It is six years, six months and more than £9bn in public expenditure since Jacques Rogges stood on a platform in Singapore and read out the word "London", igniting wild scenes in Trafalgar Square. This morning, the countdown clock there reads 182 days: there are just six months to go until the opening ceremony of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, at what was relatively recently an industrial wasteland in east London.

This morning, at the Olympic Park, the opening ceremony's Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle will reveal the first clues as to what to expect when an estimated four billion sets of eyes are focused on the capital.

Details remain a closely guarded secret and little is expected to be revealed prior to the event itself. Over the coming weeks, thousands of would-be performers will audition to be part of what Mr Boyle hopes will be the greatest show on earth.

Preparations seem to be progressing unsettlingly well. Almost all the venues are completed and almost all the tickets sold. A minor planning row over stabling facilities at the Greenwich Park home of the equestrian eventing is the organiser's most significant headache. A handful of tickets for the football competition remain unsold.

Games organisers have said they will not change their minds over Dow Chemical's controversial £7m sponsorship of a fabric wrap that will go around the stadium. One of the 12 sustainability commissioners resigned yesterday over the company's connections to the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India – a gas leak that has since accounted for the death by poisoning of up to 25,000 people. Dow Chemical has since bought the company, Union Carbide India Limited, that was responsible for the disaster.

Of greater concern – at least to the residents of London's Primrose Hill – are plans to install a 30ft-high replica of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer Statue to mark the handover of the Olympic torch to the city, which will host the Games in 2016. The scheme has apparently been dreamt up by the Brazilian Tourist Board, but local Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Naylor said he was unconvinced a 30ft statue of Christ was what the area needed.

Primrose Hill, known for its views across the capital, has long been home to luminaries from the worlds of politics, fashion and showbusiness: Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and David Miliband all live in the area.

A Brazilian Tourist Board spokesman said only that the statue was "a concept that was being considered as part of a wider platform of promotional activities" to mark the Olympic handover.

Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, David Cameron urged world leaders to "be part of this special year in a truly great country".

Mayor Boris Johnson made a surprise appearance, compelling world leaders to visit the city in its Olympic year and reminding them that London "remains a formidable exporting power".

When the bid to host the Olympics was won in 2005, it was in a markedly different world financial climate.

But Games chief Lord Sebastian Coe said in an interview with AFP yesterday that the Games had been an "absolute godsend" to the British economy.

"The Olympics has been a fantastic catalyst in a very difficult economic environment," he said.

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