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Following the election of PyeongChang as host city of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games last evening, it was time for fellow future hosts London, Sochi and Rio to present progress reports to the 123rd IOC Session in Durban on Day 2.
Preparations for the XXX Olympiad are in a “very good place,” according to LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe as London approaches one year to go before the start of the Games. The sentiment was echoed by Coordination Commission Chairman Denis Oswald. Construction of venues is 88 per cent complete, allowing the organisers to get their “London Prepares” testing programme under way in the best conditions possible. London is now literally “coming alive” with preparatory sports events.
As LOCOG moves into the delivery phase, one focus continues to be on building the fan base for the Games. This is being achieved through initiatives such as a highly successful ticket launch (23 sports already have no availability left in the second phase of sales) and the unveiling of the Olympic torch and the Torch Relay route. Training of the 70,000 volunteers has also begun, as has the search for torchbearers via a number of nomination systems, which are looking for people with inspirational stories.
British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson reiterated that the London Olympic Games enjoy full governmental support, with financial promises being honoured and a special Olympic coordination subcommittee being set up to ensure that the Games are delivered in the best way possible.
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games are engaging and helping to inspire the entire Russian nation. This was the message delivered by Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, and Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.
Chernyshenko underlined how mass initiatives such as the election of Sochi 2014’s mascots, the 1,000 days-to-go celebrations, and the opening of 26 volunteer centres in universities across Russia have helped to spread the Olympic values and message to all parts of the country. According to Zhukov, the Sochi project is acting as a model, with innovations such as green construction and accessibility guidelines developed for the Games now being promoted nationwide.
Sport remains central to the project though, with IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy saying, “Sochi has understood well: Sport is the heart of the project.” Sochi, as well as having accepted to take on 12 new sports disciplines for its Games, will host 76 sports events over the coming few years in the lead-up to the Games. Twenty-nine will be international competitions, allowing the organisers to test and refine all of their operations to ensure that the world’s best athletes can compete in the best possible conditions in 2014.
Good progress is also being made in Rio de Janeiro, home to the Olympic Games in 2016. Organising Committee President Carlos Nuzman noted that the foundation phase had now been completed, with strategic pillars adopted to support Rio 2016’s mission statement to “stage excellent Games with memorable celebrations that will promote the image of Brazil around the world.”
The pillars are: providing technical excellence; harnessing the spirit and beauty of the city to stage memorable celebrations; promoting Brazil to the world; initiating sustainable transformation through sport, social and urban development; and fostering the growth of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.
The Organising Committee currently consists of 150 staff, and that number is expected to rise to 260 by the end of the year. Coordination Commission Chair for Rio Nawal El Moutawakel noted with satisfaction the quality of the team already assembled. The senior management team has been strengthened, in particular with the appointment of CEO Leonardo Gryner, while Marcio Fortes has been named head of the Olympic Public Authority for the Games.
Domestic commercial partnerships in the financial service and insurance and telecommunications sectors have underscored the strength of the Rio 2016 project. Infrastructure construction is also gearing up, with the foundation stone having been laid at the Olympic Village and work to officially get under way in October. Construction of the Olympic Park is set to begin in early 2012, while refurbishment of the Sambodromo and Maracanã Stadium has already started. All work is being undertaken in a sustainable manner reflecting the city’s environmental commitments as outlined in the bid campaign.