SBD/August 16, 2011/Olympics

LOCOG Chair Coe Confident London Games Are On Right Track

Coe says nothing giving him sleepless nights ahead of Olympics

In an interview before the London riots began, LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said there is "nothing that gives me sleepless nights," but it would be "naive of me to sit here and say that nothing could go wrong" at the London Games next summer, according to Brian Viner of the London INDEPENDENT. Coe: "Security and transport are always a challenge in big cities, but if you look at the handling of the royal wedding, we do these things extraordinarily well." Viner noted "everyone seems happy" with Coe's efforts thus far. Coe said, "I think we're a pretty good organisation, and I think we're doing for two billion what most organisations would do for three, but we ask ourselves all the time whether things could have been done better." With "plenty of people still disgruntled by the way" tickets were issued, Coe said, "Could we have done it differently? The technology would not have stood up to first-come, first-served, and it would have been much more difficult to control ticket touts. On the basis of such massive demand, I genuinely believe that the fairest way was for those over-subscribed sessions to go to ballot." Meanwhile, Coe discussed the legacy of the Games, saying, "The skill after 2012 is making sure that every medal is translated into X thousand more kids participating. For many people the medals table is the measure of the Games, but for me it's just a league table. The real challenge, after we've finished fourth or fifth, is what can we do now? I'd like to feel that in 10 years' time I'll be looking back in my dotage at a landscape where more young people are playing sport" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/15).

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Panja & Spillane reported U.K. developer Delancey Estates and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., a unit of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, "agreed to pay [US$906M] for the athlete’s village in London's Olympic Park." The deal includes the purchase of 1,439 homes from the Olympic Delivery Authority that can be "resold or rented out." The purchase is "part of Qatar's "expanding London property holdings" (BLOOMBERG.com, 8/12). After the Olympics, the village "will be converted into a neighbourhood with 2,818 homes" (GUARDIAN, 8/13). In London, Adam Sherwin noted the deal "still leaves UK taxpayers exposed to a [US$450M] shortfall as private investors backed out of the construction project during the recession" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/13).

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