rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » Final countdown starts to London Games

Final countdown starts to London Games

Last updated on: April 18, 2012 10:49 IST

Final countdown starts to London Games

     Next

Next

Kew Gardens on an English spring morning will host the first in a series of celebrations on Wednesday to commemorate the 100 days' countdown to the London Olympics.

An oak tree will be planted to mark Britain's role in the birth of the modern Olympic movement and giant Olympic rings made up of 25,000 flowers will be on display.

A city steeped in theatre and pageantry will then be entertained in the early afternoon by members of West End theatre shows assisted by British athletes taking part in a "West End Warm-Up" performance in Trafalgar Square.

On the following day the 70-day Olympic torch relay begins at Land's End.

Any initial trepidation about Britain's ability to stage a major global event has long vanished and last month the London organising committee received a glowing endorsement from International Olympic Committee commission chairman Denis Oswald who proclaimed: "London is ready to welcome the world."

"We can feel that London is feeling the fever of the Games," Oswald said. "We are in no doubt that this summer will be a summer like no other in Britain."


Image: A banner is seen along with others made by scout and brownie groups to decorate an observation point opposite the Olympic Park in East London
Photographs: Andrew Winning / REUTERS

     Next

Coe upbeat about London's problematic transport system

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Ensuring an unforgettable Olympics for London and the thousands of athletes and visitors who will pour into Britain for the Games opening on July 27 is the ultimate responsibility of organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe.

A reminder of the disturbing ease with which big sporting events can be disrupted came this month when an intruder in the Thames disrupted the annual university boat race between Oxford and Cambridge.

The torch relay, as the pro-Tibet protesters demonstrated during the 2008 Beijing Olympics relay, is similarly vulnerable as are the street races such as the marathons and walks.

In an interview to mark the 100 days' landmark, Coe said there was a need to get a balance between the safety of the competitors while ensuring spectators were not subjected to oppressive security measures.

"Competitors are doing something at the highest level, they have devoted over half their young lives to be there," he said.

"It is our responsibility to make sure they have a secure environment in which to compete but you do not want people coming to London feeling they have come to a siege town," he added.

Coe was also upbeat about London's problematic transport system.

"At Games time things will be different," he said. "This is the first time a Games will have been on these shores for 64 years and there's nobody in this room, there's probably nobody sitting out there now that is going to is going to witness them again in their lifetime so it is a celebration.

"The city will look different, it will be different, getting about it will be different."


Photographs: Andrew Winning / REUTERS

Prev     Next

'We have the ability to host 200 countries'

Prev     More
Prev

More

Asked about criticisms of the high cost of a sports event in grim economic times, Coe said there would be some validity to the argument if the Olympics was just a sporting festival.

"But of course it isn't," he said. "We have regenerated in the process a large part of east London, we've transformed the lives of many young people living in east London.

"More broadly we have an opportunity to showcase this country in front of four billion people not just in sport but in our cultural communities. We have the ability to host 200 countries.

"There are millions of people the length and breadth of the country who are now helping us to deliver these Games. We have a torch relay that's going to go within 10 miles (16 kms) of 95 percent of the population.

"So this goes way, way beyond just 16 days of sport."


Photographs: Andrew Winning / REUTERS
Tags: London , Coe

Prev     More
Source:
© Copyright 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.