London marks 200 days till Olympics with legacy in mind | Pakistan Today

London marks 200 days till Olympics with legacy in mind

London marked 200 days to go until the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in an upbeat mood on Monday, announcing new deals to secure the future of the mostly completed sites. Prime Minister David Cameron led a special meeting of his cabinet at the Olympic Park in east London, where he said organisers were “well on track” to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain.
As London prepares to become the first city to host the Olympics for the third time, most of the venues are completed and tickets for all events — except the hundreds of thousands still available for football — are sold out. Organisers can take pride in the remarkable transformation of a once rundown area of scrapyards and workshops into a collection of high-tech sporting venues, thousands of apartments and, eventually, a park. The government announced on Monday that ownership deals had been agreed for the Aquatics Centre, the Handball Arena and Anish Kapoor’s 115-metre high red steel Orbit sculpture, ensuring they will survive beyond the Games. The operator of the Aquatics Centre expects 800,000 local users every year, while the Handball Arena hopes to welcome 500,000 people a year for concerts, exhibitions and sports events.
“Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and six out of the eight Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain,” Cameron said. The excitement has been marred however by the disappointment of hundreds of thousands of British fans who missed out on tickets for the Games in last year’s lottery, amid massive demand. There were also red faces last week when organisers LOCOG admitted they had mistakenly oversold tickets for synchronised swimming sessions and were forced to offer thousands of people tickets to other events. Adding to their blushes, the website for recipients to resell tickets they do not want has been suspended because of technical problems. An additional one million tickets are due to go on sale in April once the final configuration of the stadiums has been worked out, and they are certain to be snapped up. But as the clock ticks down to the July 27 opening ceremony, chief organiser Sebastian Coe said the acid test of his organisation would be whether athletes could be delivered to their event on time, and ready to compete.
“I never want an athlete telling me he did not make a final because the Olympic Village did not create the right atmosphere, or he did not get the right service or the transport did not work,” Coe told the Evening Standard newspaper last week.
“The Games have to work for the most important client group, the athletes. I can’t screw it up for them. That would be a cardinal sin.” In an already congested city like London, few doubt that transport is one of the biggest issues the Games face. Specially reserved Olympic road lanes, reserved for athletes, officials and the media are designed to ensure competitors are not delayed but their effect is likely to be traffic snarl-ups elsewhere in the capital. British ministers are hoping the Olympics and the celebrations marking the queen’s 60 years on the throne this year will help lift the country out of the economic doldrums, as it faces the real prospect of a return to recession. But Cameron has faced criticism for ordering an additional £41 million ($63 million, 50 million euros) to be spent on the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, which many view as frivolous at a time of austerity. “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle has the difficult task of ensuring that London’s opening ceremony can compete with the spectacular show staged by Beijing four years ago.

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