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All systems go for Olympics

2011-07-07 19:12
Sebastian Coe (File)

Durban - The preparations for next year's London Olympics are in its 'killing zone' said the chairman of the organising committee Lord Sebastian Coe here on Wednesday.

The 54-year-old two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion said it was a sporting analogy for his days when he was running the 800 metres as the London organisers prepare to celebrate a year to go to the Games opening.

"To use a sporting analogy, people tend to say to me that we are in the finishing straight," said Coe after giving the International Olympic Committee members an update on the preparations for the Games.

"I tend to think that is not the case and that we are in what I call the 550-650 metres stage of an 800 metres race which was referred to as the killing zone.

"It is how you come out of that that determines where you are at the finishing line.

"That is why I say to our different teams that it doesn't matter where you are now, your responsibility is to the athletes whether it is the catering team or the waste management team."

Coe, who also said press reports about London descending into chaos and the city would be shut down for 100 days next year were wide of the mark, said 23 of the 26 sporting events at the Games were sold out and he had no worries about the football competition following suit.

"We have sold 500 000 tickets for the football," he said.

"Our venues are big venues because we felt people would want to come to England for the Olympics and go to stadiums like Old Trafford, St James's Park and Wembley."

Coe, formerly a Conservative Member of Parliament until he lost his seat in 1997, also couldn't resist a dig at England's failed attempt to host the 2018 World Cup in talking up the Olympic football tournament.

"I am reminded that this is probably the biggest football tournament that will take place in England in my lifetime," he said.

Coe, who started the week in celebratory fashion getting married for a second time last weekend, also had consoling words for Munich and the French alpine town of Annecy, who were crushed by Pyeongchang in Wednesday's vote for the host of the 2018 Winter Games.

Coe drew on his experience in leading the impressive London bid for the 2012 Games which saw them stun long-time favourites Paris in the vote in Singapore in 2005.

"I didn't see the presentations but there was a lesson, a broader message for the teams that don't nick cross the line," he said.

"If you want to maintain a profile in the Olympic Movement then learn from the experience and come back the next time.

"Rio de Janeiro were rejected and then came back five years later and won in another attempt (the 2016 Games) and Pyeongchang (who had finished runners-up on the two previuous occasions) did that here."

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