James Rees, director of conferences and events, Excel London
How are your plans going at this stage?
As you can imagine, planning has been going ahead since the announcement for London in July 2005, however the intensity has hugely increased over the last six months.
Last week was a milestone when, on 20 June, we effectively handed the keys to the venue to the Locog team as they start their three-month tenancy.
Excel London will be the most complex single venue in modern Olympic history and you can already see the changes that are being made to the internal and external areas of the building.
In fact, we will have 27% of the Olympic Sports hosted, 30% of the Paralympic Sports hosted, five arenas, 246 Olympic medals, 249 Paralympic medals – a third of all the medals to be awarded, 2,798 athletes competing, and one in three people on the planet will watch the Games. It will be fascinating to watch the plans unfold and see a convention and exhibition centre transformed into such a major sporting venue and back in a three-month period.
‘One month from now I’ll be...’
Actually, I will be watching the opening ceremony from a TV in the US as I have a sales mission that week prior to attending MPI’s World Education Conference. It will be good to see the reaction of the American audience to the spectacular ceremony that is being planned and hopefully it will be thumbs-up for a very British style of ceremony.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m very proud of our venue so cannot wait to see the place swathed in Olympic imagery and branding. However, I was lucky enough to get tickets for both weightlifting and boxing and I am most looking forward the boxing finals on 12 August – it will be amazing to be present when gold medals are presented in the venue and to be in the crowd at an Olympic final.