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SBD Global/August 21, 2012/Facilities

London Venues Hope To Avoid 'White Elephant' Syndrome That Plagued Previous Games Hosts

Olympic organizers believe venues such as Olympic stadium will avoid becoming 'white elephants.'
Olympic organizers have reason to believe they have set a new standard for hosting major sporting events by not "spending huge amounts of money on permanent venues," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The “white elephant” syndrome has struck previous Olympic host cities Beijing and Athens as well as South Africa, which hosted the 2010 World Cup. London "went all out to avoid white elephants." Its strategy involved using London landmarks "as a setting for temporary seating areas." Only eight of the 34 venues in London "are permanent." Planning going back several years for "establishing a fully-fledged legacy for sporting venues is one of the hallmarks" of London's organization. Tenders were organized for taking over the permanent venues several months ago. Nonprofit Greenwich Leisure, which runs fitness centers in London, "won two of the tenders." Olympic handball venue Copper Box "will be turned into a multi-use arena." The co-operative will also "operate one of the most stunning municipal baths in the world" when it takes over the aquatics centre. The one venue "with a question mark" is the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium. The future of the venue has "caused enough argument and deliberation, legal challenges and u-turns," in the seven years since London won the right to host the Games. The reputations of London Mayor Boris Johnson and LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe are "at stake." Failure to deliver a workable plan for the stadium’s future "will blow a hole in their promises of delivering a London Olympics legacy." Yet even now, "there is no clear resolution" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/19).
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