London 2012 is fast-approaching and in the east of London, the landscape has altered significantly as the Olympic Park rises up from what was a previously under-developed patch of earth. Its progress is tribute to the Olympic Delivery Authority and the 10,000 or so workers who are charged with its construction. It will host world class sport in the summer of 2012 and then will become the heart of a brand new community in the subsequent years. At a point when the economy has been so unpredictable, there is a school of thought which says this could not have come been any better timed. I rather suspect that those 10,000 workers would agree.
London 2012 has been something of a triumph for UK plc. Across the project, we have let around £5bn worth of contracts, 98 per cent of which have gone to UK based businesses. Some of the feats of engineering onsite are impressive beyond belief and if you add in some of the new industry standards set in terms of sustainability and health and safety, the legacy that London 2012 will leave for the construction industry is something that we can be rightly proud of. A better global advertisement for UK industry and innovation, you could not ask for. Add to this some of the country’s biggest and best known companies also contributing nearly £700m to London 2012 through sponsorship, then you have a recipe for success.
On 15 March, the application process opens for tickets – a major landmark for us, as sales of tickets account for a sizeable portion of the money we need to stage the Games. But also we need to sell those tickets to ensure our venues are packed to the rafters with sports fans. And this is another opportunity for British business.
I’m sure many people will have already signed up to our website at www.tickets.london2012.com and will have been receiving information about the 26 sports and how to apply.
When the process opens on 15 March, those people will have six weeks to apply for tickets – and remember, it’s not first come, first served so you can apply at any point before 26 April. Of the 8.8m tickets on sale, 75 per cent of them will be available through this process. But also going on sale from 15 March are our hospitality packages. Although accounting for less than 1 per cent of our total tickets, these tickets are hugely important to us. For every package bought through our on-site hospitality provider, Prestige Ticketing, one ticket is donated to our Ticketshare scheme which will see children across the UK receive Olympic Games tickets.
We are working hard with Prestige Ticketing to ensure that the onsite hospitality offered at Games-time is genuinely best in class, with food representing the ‘Best of British’ and sustainably sourced. Thomas Cook, one of our sponsors, is also offering fantastic accommodation packages for sports fans across the UK and Jetset Sports will be working with us to offer hospitality opportunities to those coming in to the UK from across the world.
UK plc is going for gold with its contribution to the Games so far. 15 March represents a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the fruits of its labour. If you want to be there, then now is the time to act. It is the greatest show on earth. See you there.
l Seb Coe chairs the 2012 Organising Committee