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London has much work to do before Olympics begin
The “live site” in the Olympic Park — a grassy area where spectators can watch the events on a giant screen and listen to musical entertainment — is also unfinished.
“The bump-in looks quite messy, but you leave this to the last stages,” Mr. Bulley said. “It’s always the last thing you do in getting events ready. We want to work these venues right up to when the athletes are coming in so they look as good as possible.”
Olympic Park isn’t the only place getting dolled up.
So is Horse Guards Parade, the ceremonial parade ground a stone’s throw from the prime minister’s Downing Street residence in central London. The site of beach volleyball, it’s a temporary venue that requires stands and 5,000 tons of sand brought in from a quarry south of London. Imagine a giant sandbox. Work started only late last month after the Trooping the Color ceremony marking Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday.
Another key venue requiring special attention is ExCel. The conference and exhibition center in the Docklands area is being turned into multiple arenas hosting boxing, judo, table tennis, wrestling, fencing, tae kwon do and weightlifting.
“We’re well advanced,” Mr. Bulley said. “We’ll be ready to hand those arenas over as of early next week. We took the venues later than many of the others. We’ve always known the period we’ve had to deliver these venues. We track them very closely. We’re in super shape.”
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said it’s normal for host cities to face a flurry of last-ditch issues.
“It’s not peculiar for London,” he said. “We’ve always had difficulties in the days leading up to the games in the previous games, and the games were of an impeccable nature. This is something that does not worry us. We’re confident that everything will be fine by the opening ceremony day.”
Even Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly and vocal critic of the Olympic project, has no doubts.
“It’s the nature of any games,” he said. “They look unfinished before you get there. But the venues are ready. They’ve been tested. You can do a lot in 12 days. If it weren’t ready, Seb Coe would have his lordship or knighthood taken away.”
Associated Press writers Danica Kirka and Chris Lehourites contributed to this report.
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