With just two days remaining before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, London is expecting the busiest period yet. But London is ready for “the greatest show on earth”, ministers say.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that, with two days to go, London was “in pretty good shape” for the Games. “Thanks to the superb teams of people in the armed services, the police and volunteers, we are ready to make the world welcome, and we are confident that we will do a good job,” he said.
Hunt was speaking at a press conference on Games readiness. Today and tomorrow are expected to be the busiest days in terms of transport and security, as athletes, officials and visitors arrive in London. More than 4,000 of the 14,000 expected athletes have already arrived. Organisers also expect more than 100 heads of state in advance of the Opening Ceremony.
“It is worth trying to appreciate the scale of the challenges that we face to put on the Games,” said Hunt. “This is the equivalent of hosting 26 world championships at the same time.”
Today also marks the opening of the Olympic Road Network and the Games Lanes, a network of roads linking all of the competition venues and other key sites, such as Heathrow Airport.
To help manage the crowds, more than 350 digital screens have been installed around stations to communicate with the general public. “We have installed the largest – and ugliest – digital yellow message boards in the world,” explained Peter Hendy, Transport for London Commissioner. “When they’re operable, they will give people information about what areas they should avoid because of overcrowding. We can switch them on when they are required.”
Normally, around 3.5 million journeys are made on London’s public transport network; during the Games, an additional 20 million journeys – around one million more journeys per day – are expected.
James Brokenshire MP, the Home Office’s Security Minister, added: “Thousands of Olympic athletes and sporting enthusiasts are converging on London, and we are prepared to welcome many more as they make their journey to the UK to be a part of this fantastic event. Our focus is now on hosting a spectacular summer of sport and culture.”