The first wave of athletes has arrived in London, just a few days before the Olympic Games get going on July 27. The vast majority of the delegations flying in from all over the world are expected to land at Heathrow Airport, where an extra 500 staff have been taken on to cope with the influx.
The Olympic Park in London’s East End is ready, as is the Olympic village which consists of 11 buildings housing more than 8,400 rooms for a total of 10,490 athletes.
To make sure everything is up to scratch the Mayor of London himself, Boris Johnson, has been inspecting the facilities.
“Without wishing to in any way deprecate the achievement of other Olympic cities – and I saw what they did in Beijing – this for me is the greatest Olympic Park there has ever been in the history of the Games,” he said.
Organisers say they have also put considerable resources into ensuring security is omnipresent but with a minimum of visibility. Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told euronews: “We will have a safe Olympics, yes we needed a few more people from the army than we planned but that was always part of our contingency and people do look forward to a safe and successful Olympics.”
In fact, security measures have been something of a fiasco. The private security firm G4S, was commissioned to provide 10,400 guards for the games, but had to admit they had come up short, meaning that 3,500 additional troops will have to be mobilised.
Brushing that to one side, Hunt summed up his current state of mind: “I suppose it’s that moment just before a huge party starts, and you walk around the house and you’re checking all the rooms, and all the food is ready to be served and basically our plans are in place and it’s very exciting.”