SBD/July 28, 2011/Facilities

Rogge Praises "Majestic" Aquatics Centre Ahead Of London Games

LOCOG officials unveiled the Aquatics Centre during a ceremony yesterday
IOC President Jacques Rogge described the US$439M Aquatics Centre for the '12 London Games as "majestic" at yesterday’s official unveiling of the venue, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The building is the sixth and final permanent venue to be constructed that will be used during the Olympics, and its "signature wavy roof is expected to provide one of the defining images for the Games." LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said Rogge was "quite taken aback" when he entered the Aquatics Centre. Coe: "It’s hugely impressive. You need an iconic building that defines the [Olympic] Park." However, O'Connor notes the building "has been criticised for its ugly temporary stands, which contain most of the 17,500 seats for the Games." In "legacy mode, they will be removed, leaving 2,500 seats around a pool intended to be used by the local community as well as elite swimmers." Coe "defended the decision to use cheaper temporary stands" than building designer Zaha Hadid had originally envisioned, meaning the Aquatics Centre "will look better after the Games than during the event it was built for." Coe: "They do their task. They’re not the prettiest things on the side of a beautiful pool but we’ve been consistent whether the economy was at the high water mark or bumping along the ground that we were going to deliver sustainability. It would have been ridiculous to have left a swimming pool (that big). We got it right." IOC Coordination Commission Chair Denis Oswald acknowledged that there "was not a 'perfect' view from every angle," but LOCOG insisted that "no seat has a restricted view of the pool" (LONDON TIMES, 7/28). The GUARDIAN's Owen Gibson writes, "If the exterior had divided opinion, there was widespread praise for the inside of the venue, with its steep sides concentrating all 35,000 eyes on the 50-metre pool and diving pool beneath the undulating roof." However, there may be "concerns about how far away the back rows are from the action" (GUARDIAN, 7/28).

TOUGH TICKET: In London, Sam Munnery reports tickets for the London Games are "expected to be sold out by the opening ceremony next year." LOCOG expects "all 6.6 million tickets to have been snapped up in the 365 days' time." Another batch of tickets "will go on sale early next year." LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said, "The only tickets that we had left over were some soccer tickets. With soccer we have sold more tickets than any other kind of ticket and, of course, people do not even know yet which matches are being played or what the draw is. With that information we would hope we would have a really good chance of selling those too" (LONDON TIMES, 7/28).  
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