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Mittal: Tower not Olympic cauldron

2012-07-23 22:04
Orbit Tower. (File, AP)

London - Love it or loathe it one thing is for sure: The Orbit Tower is not the Olympic cauldron.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal says the ruby red steel tower that rises 35 storeys above the Olympic Park and resembles a smashed roller coaster is not the cauldron that will hold the ceremonial flame.

In an interview on Monday, Mittal told The Associated Press that he had met with Olympic authorities about the possibility that the tower would be used for that, but the plans did not get drawn up in time for consideration.

"We were late," said Mittal, who was listed by the Sunday Times this year as the richest man in Britain.

Mittal's company, ArcelorMittal, donated the steel for the swirling centre-piece of the park and stumped up most of its £22.7m cost.

The lighting of the cauldron that holds the flame is always a big moment for the Olympics, and organisers usually withhold details about the opening ceremony and the flame lighting to ensure the appropriate drama. But usually there is some structure - somewhere - that hints where the flame will burn.

But not this time. The London cauldron's location remains a mystery.

Suspicion has long fallen on the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the abstract structure that just sits so close to the stadium one could watch the 100m final from its viewing platform. But Mittal says the tower is art to enhance the Games that start on Friday.

Meant to be a tourist landmark like Big Ben or the London Eye wheel, the abstract work of art has often been the subject of derision. London's newspapers have coined a few choice nicknames: the Eyeful Tower, the shisha pipe, the Hubble Bubble.

Mittal's not the least bit troubled that critics have tagged it as being the ugly duckling of the Olympic Park. It just needs to be understood, he told the AP.

"People are still trying to criticise the Mona Lisa," he said.

Tickets for the tower during the 27 July to 12 August Olympics are already all sold out.

Read more on:    olympics 2012

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