Locog wrestles with logistical challenges thrown up by …

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Olympic 2012

Olympic 2012

With the opening ceremony extremely unlikely to finish before midnight and pushed to end before the Tube network shuts at 12.30am, organisers are grappling with the issue of how to get VIPs and other guests swiftly and safely away from the arena.

In Beijing, the Chinese authorities used a massive police and army presence to throw up cordons on the vast ‘Olympic Green’ surrounding the Bird’s Nest Stadium, with spectators made to wait behind lines of uniformed officials while buses streamed away carrying the most prestigious guests. London has neither the manpower nor the space to operate a similar system, hence the need for meticulous planning, which they insist is aimed at all those attending, not just the VIPs.

Nevertheless, VIPs, the “Olympic family” of International Olympic Committee members and others, politicians, media, sponsors and their guests will make up the majority of the 60,000 crowd in the stadium, 20,000 fewer than capacity because of the need to free seats for TV cameras and performers.

Locog will not confirm how many seats have been made available in the public ticket ballots so far, but it could be as few as 30,000. It says that until the opening ceremony itself is finalised and TV requirements settled, it cannot be specific.

VIPs, including the IOC members, are likely to be ferried to the site by buses using the Olympic lanes from their central London hotels and will be deposited close to the stadium. They can then reassemble following the show to be whisked away by road.

As well as the IOC and heads of state, Locog has to ensure that thousands of athletes who take part in the ceremony are safely shuttled back to the Olympic village, as well as the 15,000 performers and thousands of catering and security staff who will take the total up to 100,000.

Athletes and officials who choose to take part in the parade at the ceremony are expected to assemble in the Basketball Arena before being transported to the stadium.

Get it right and the tone will be set for an opening day of competition on Saturday July 28 that could be capped by a British gold medal for Mark Cavendish. Get it wrong and the cyclist may be required to lighten the mood.

BOA banking on stock rising Judging by the products on display in its flagship merchandise store in the Westfield shopping centre next to the Olympic Park, London 2012 is relying on its logo, rather than quality and imagination, to shift stock.

Merchandising staples such as mugs, T-shirts and mascots dominate the shop, leaving some customers making their way to the diving test event this week underwhelmed. With Team GB football “fans” shirts, which will never be worn in competition, selling for £52, the same does not apply to the prices.

The British Olympic Association will be hoping it can exploit this gap when it launches the first piece of “iconic” merchandise, upon which the financial health of the organisation partly rests, next week.

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