Behind the scenes at London 2012: Denis Oswald
The Games may still be in full flow, but in three days’ time the London 2012 Olympic Games will come to a close, seeing seven years of preparations finally pay off. We speak to three-time Olympic rower and Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission.
What is your role at London 2012?
I’ve been chairing the IOC Coordination Commission for the last seven years, which involves working with the different International Federations and the National Olympic Committees to bring the Games together. The role of the Commission is to supervise the work done by LOCOG and to give advice on the organisation of the Games. There are a lot of people on the Commission who have experience of previous Games and we help make sure that everything is in order.
How did you work with the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG)?
We work very closely with LOCOG but we’re not like policemen or inspectors! That is definitely not our role. We work with them to make sure we can make use of the experience we have and create opportunities to make the best possible Games for the best athletes in the world.
What’s been your highlight of the Games so far?
The Games themselves are a highlight. For us, it is seven years of hard work, but the main highlight will be at the end when we know everything has been successful and when the athletes return home safely and with great memories of their experiences in London. To know that both the athletes and the public have had a great experience is most important to us.
Being a former Olympian, what do the Games mean to you?
The Games are extremely important to me. I’ve been a part of 21 Olympic Games in different capacities and things have obviously evolved. The first three (in which I participated) were very different and now they have become much more professional; there are more people, more support, many different countries competing for gold. It has changed a lot over the years but the principles and the values of unity are the same.
What is the main legacy of the 2012 Games?
I think these Games are a good example of sustainability because of the way they’ve been planned, for example by building tents for temporary venues that won’t be needed after the Games. The regeneration of East London is another part of the Games’ legacy - the London Games are a demonstration of what hosting them can bring to a city. The Olympic Games can improve the quality of life for many people, and part of that legacy is to inspire a generation to practise sport. With the success of British athletes, there will be more sporting opportunities for young people long after the Games have concluded.