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May 31, 2020

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Sebastian Coe claimed here today that he remained unconcerned by the late issues that are overshadowing the final countdown to London 2012 as he was given a boost by the main road from Heathrow Airport into the capital reopening ahead of schedule.

The M4 link reopened today to enable athletes and officials to travel into London less than 24 hours after officials had warned that they could not guarantee to carry out repair work so that it would be operational by Monday (July 16) when the first Olympic Route Network (ORN) is due to become operational.

It was some relief for the London 2012 chairman who has had to deal with the unexpected disruption along with concerns over security following the revelation that 3,500 troops were being drafted in because of a shortfall caused by contractor G4S failing to meet contractual requirements.

In addition O2, one of Britain's biggest mobile phone networks, has suffered severe connection problems and it has continued to rain in what is already the wettest summer on record.

"It's sort of what happens," Coe said of the last-minute issues with only two weeks left until the Opening Ceremony on July 27.

"We will get there.

"These will be fantastic Games.

"I've got complete confidence in our teams to deliver this.

"We will work on security, we will work on transport, as we [will] do on all the other projects...right up until there is no more time or place to go."

The decision to reopen the M4 could take a lot of the pressure off Coe (pictured) and London 2012 officials.

There had been initial fears that it would not be repaired in time and the Olympic rings had been painted on an alternative route in case it was not fixed in time.

But the six mile section between junctions two and three on M4 has now repaired sufficiently to allow Olympic athletes and officials to use it, although 7.5 tonne-plus vehicles are still banned.

"They will exclude articulated lorries and many coaches but Olympic family vehicles will be exempt to get the athletes and their equipment through," said Peter Hendy, the Commissioner of Transport for London.

London's preparations have been backed to come good by Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee.

"This is not peculiar to London, we have always had difficulties in the time leading up to the Games, this is something that does not worry us, it will be fine by the time of the Opening Ceremony," he said.

"We have been informed that the security will not be affected by this.

"It will have to be solved by [London 2012] and the Government but we are very optimistic that all the provisions will be taken."

But both Rogge and Coe admitted that there is nothing they can do about the weather.

"I don't have a hotline to the Almighty," said Coe.

"On occasions, over the last few months, I really wished I had, but clearly he hasn't been listening to me thus far."

 

By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London

Source: www.insidethegames.biz