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London unveils "fantastic" 2012 Olympics plans


Mayor predicts 'carnival atmosphere' in 2012

By Gordon Farquhar
BBC Olympics/Sports News Correspondent

Mayor of London Boris Johnson wants London to be the "epicentre of fun in the universe" during the 2012 Olympics.

Johnson told the Olympic Board on Monday about plans for concerts stages, big screens and a pedestrian area, centred around Trafalgar Square.

Of the £9.32bn Olympic budget, £32m has been allocated for the "look and feel" of London away from the Olympic Park.

"People will hugely enjoy it and for those who don't enjoy it, it'll all be over in a flash," predicted Johnson.

The four main live sites will feature concert stages and big screens and will be situated in Hyde Park with a capacity of 50,000, Victoria Park (40,000), Jubilee Gardens (8,000) and Potter's Gate (4,500).

"We think that those will be a fantastic Woodstock carnival atmosphere, all sorts of entertainment," Johnson told the BBC.

Entry to those sites will be limited and ticketed and planners hope they will be funded entirely by sponsors, without the need for public money.

Trafalgar Square, which was the focal point of the celebration to welcome home the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic teams, was rejected due to issues around access and security.

Gordon Farquhar

However, a substantial amount of money will be spent on linking Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Leicester Square into a huge pedestrian area.

"There will be a party atmosphere in the centre of town," added Johnson.

"The question for us is how to cope with the volume of people without causing excessive disruption to Londoners and their businesses."

A 7,000-strong troop of volunteers, in addition to the 70,000 being recruited by London 2012, are to be positioned at key points throughout the city to provide help and information.

Johnson's plans will also include details of how the city will be dressed with flags, iconic imagery, and colour schemes, and how the Cultural Olympiad - the festival of arts which accompanies the games - will be integrated into the city.

"We are not going to run a kind of deterrent strategy," said Johnson, previewing his plans.

"There are a lot of people around at the moment who're saying that the best thing possible would be to get the word out across the planet, that London is just going to be too crowded, too exhausting to bother to come and visit.

"That's not our strategy. We believe that London in 2012 is going to be the place that people want to come and have fun and see the Olympic Games so we've got to get ready on that basis.

"We've got to assume that huge numbers of people are going to come to the city, and we've got to make them feel welcome, and we've got to allow them to enjoy themselves, so there's all sorts of things we're preparing."

He says the challenge, involving "a lot of intellectual heavy lifting", would be how to balance the desire for a great party with the need to keep London working.

"I want to keep deliveries going to businesses, make sure that public transport can keep moving, but people have got to understand - it's going to be business as un-usual," said Johnson.

"It will not be the same system. I am sure there will be people who will feel very aggrieved. I'd be kidding myself if I thought I could make this happen in the city with no disruption, no alteration to people's lives."

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see also
GB athletes get 2012 track boost
25 Mar 10 |  London 2012
Extra Olympic tickets announced
22 Mar 10 |  London 2012
Olympics budget rises to 9.3bn
15 Mar 07 |  UK Politics
Cultural Olympiad plans unveiled
04 Sep 08 |  Entertainment

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