Olympic officials visit Coventry ahead of London 2012
Olympic organisers have visited Coventry to check on preparations ahead of the 2012 Games.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG), joined Denis Oswald, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) London 2012 co-ordination commission, and IOC director of sport Gilbert Felli for a visit to the city's Ricoh Arena.
The ground will be temporarily renamed the City of Coventry Stadium when it hosts 12 Olympic football matches during this summer’s Olympic Football Tournament.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of LOCOG, said: “This is a really terrific venue, we have the football test event coming here in April, and the venue is in great shape.
“We have had fantastic co-operation from the club, the stadium staff and the council, so we really could not be happier.
“The city of Coventry has really embraced these Games, and it is a perfect example of a city grasping the nettle and saying ‘we don’t know when this will happen again, so let’s make the most of it’.
“It’s hard to put a number on the value of the Games to the city – but it will have a pretty significant economic impact. The Games will turbo charge this facility with an event which has worldwide recognition.
"The Olympic Football Tournament is a great opportunity for the people of Coventry to experience the excitement of the Games.
"It also provides a fantastic chance for families to watch world class men's and women's football at great prices - adult tickets cost from just £20 and there is the Pay Your Age scheme for those under 16. With tickets currently on sale until February 6, I would encourage people to visit www.tickets.london2012.com and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The delegates also watched a women's football demonstration from President Kennedy School Girls’ team and heard about the city’s London 2012 Inspire Marked Legacy League Programme.
Denis Oswald, member of the IOC executive board, said: “We have been impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the people of Coventry and we are grateful of the contribution of Coventry to the Games.
“We have a large number of cities willing to help organise the Games because of the legacy they will achieve and a lot of people will know where Coventry is on the map because of its involvement.
“We knew about the city before we arrived and heard all about the activities taking place and the different programmes as a result of the Games coming to the city and it will leave a positive legacy.”
The officials went on to visit Old Trafford, Hampden Park, St James’ Park and the Millennium Stadium, which are also staging matches in the Olympic football tournament, as is Wembley Stadium.
Daniel Gidney, chief executive of the City of Coventry Stadium, said: “It was great to welcome the IOC to the city and for the members to see the progress we have made in preparing the venue.
“Everything is firmly on track for the opening matches which will be a double-header of women’s football on July 25.
“It feels like we are within touching distance now as we enter the final few months of planning for London 2012.
“It is fantastic to see that all the hard work behind the scenes is coming to fruition and this is an exciting time for everyone involved in the only Midlands venue to be staging Olympic events.”
The matches alone are predicted to provide a £50 million boost to the city’s economy, but the benefits do not begin and end there.
There are more tangible benefits to the city with £7 million of public realm improvements being made to the city centre due to be completed in time for the arrival of thousands of visitors during Games-time.
Cllr Linda Bigham from Coventry City Council said: “The visit went extremely well and the visitors seemed to be impressed by the number of projects taking place across the region and seeing how much the city is involved.
“One of the reasons they were so impressed is that our involvement with London 2012 is city-wide and not just about football – it is very much about involving the whole community.”
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