LONDON, United Kingdom – Joy for the team behind the London Olympic bid on 6 July 2005
The euphoria lasts just one night — the next morning four suicide bombers kill 52 people at the height of the city’s rush-hour.
But London’s die is already cast — and a formerly derelict area of land to the east of the British capital, earmarked as the Olympic Park, begins its slow transformation.
The vision — to create a vast new park, threaded by rejuvenated waterways — world-class sports venues and a thriving new community post-Games, providing thousands of jobs to a deprived part of London.
In 2007 — the budget for the Games leaps to £9.3bn, four times the original estimate.
Meanwhile the Global Financial crisis gathers pace and successive prime ministers struggle to justify the massive public cost of preparing the sites and building the venues.
But on time, and in line with the revised budget, the venues take shape — a simple 80,000-seater stadium flanked by the impressive curves of a brand new aquatics centre and velodrome.
The white water centre to the north of London is the first to open to the public in the spring of 2011.
In the park, a twisted sculpture by Anish Kapoor takes shape — and the polluted industrial landscape is finally transformed.
Security concerns are never far away — over 13,000 troops, two navy ships, warplanes and ground-to-air missiles are put on stand-by to deal with the ever-present threat of terrorism.
Concerns remain about London’s ability to transport 50,000 competitors, officials and VIPs around an already busy network of trains, and buses.
But London has high hopes for 2012 – a year when the nation also celebrates the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
A successful Olympics and Paralympic Games, together with a fortuitous break in England’s notoriously erratic summer weather, could even bounce the UK out of its economic doldrums, and reignite the values held by the Olympic rings themselves. – Agence France-Presse
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