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SBD Global/July 18, 2012/Olympics

Olympics Beach Volleyball Venue Has Queen For A Neighbor

The transformation of the Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace “into a 15,000-seat Olympic beach volleyball arena” is London’s “most unusual construction project in recent memory,” according to Jeanne Whalen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Aiming to “create one of the London Olympics' signature visuals, organizers decided to place the arena at the foot of St. James's Park.” It meant “building what is essentially a pop-up sports arena.” Construction crews "weren't allowed to start carting in equipment until June 6, after the celebrations marking the anniversary of the Queen's 60 years on the throne.” LOCOG Venues & Infrastructure Dir James Bulley said that “finessing the project has required ‘very close collaboration’ with the palace.” Whalen writes, “The Queen didn't spike the construction plans, but her schedule didn't make it easy. Workers had to hide the portable toilets and other unsightly paraphernalia from the TV cameras during her birthday celebrations.” The temporary venue was designed by Populous, which planned many of the Games' venues. Construction site security guard Sam Finbow said the Queen “must've OK'd it because she says what goes down here.” He added, “She's probably looking forward to all the greased-up men with six-packs and little shorts. She's probably got a great view out her window” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/17).
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