Full script of interview with Sir Craig Reedie

Updated: 2011-07-28 00:43


  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Sir Craig Reedie (CBE) is a member of the London 2012 Organizing Committee and a serving representative on the International Olympic Committee. As London starts its one year countdown to the Olympic Games, Sir Reedie speaks to China Daily's Guan Xiaomeng about his hopes and dreams for the games.

Sir Reedie's opening statement to China Daily

Good afternoon Beijing. I hope it is a clear blue sky day. There's huge excitement here in London as we celebrate one year to go to the Olympic Games, and, of course, we know we have a very high challenge to meet following the magnificent Beijing games in your capital city in 2008. Apart from anything else we know China is now an Olympic power house.

We've been watching with some interest that you have the best divers in the world in the world swimming championships in Shanghai and in my own sport badminton I know Lin Dan and his team will be a huge attraction to British sports fans in London.

We're in good shape. We are building our equivalent of the Olympic green. We are building a new Olympic park. The main facilities are all there. Four of the main facilities are already finished and have been passed over to the organizing committee. That's the main stadium, the cycling velodrome, the basketball hall. We are building a hockey stadium. The aquatic stadium will be finished on Wednesday of this week and we then have to develop those into the final set up for the games.

The organizing committee, which will then run the games, is also in good shape. We've been able to raise most of the money we need because we have a private sector business. We have been able to raise most of the money we need to run the games.

We have a very good team in place and we are about the start a whole series of test events so that we can test our systems, we can test our venues. We've tested race walking, we've tested marathon, we've tested equestrian. We're about to do beach volleyball, we're about to do badminton. We are doing volleyball at the moment so we can deliver good events for the athletes in London.

So we are in good shape, we're excited and we look forward to welcoming lots and lots of people from China to London next year.

Q: What do you think of the current mood of the British people?

We have been surprised and delighted at the level of public support, particularly in London, the support for the games has been running in excess of 75 percent ever since we were awarded the games and there are majority figures all round the country. Particular enthusiasm is in the south of the country and the London area. But all around Britain people are getting excited at the prospect of hosting the games for the third time.

Q: London has hosted two Olympic Games before around wartime. How do you think the 2012 games will be different? In terms of organization and preparation do you think a contemporary Olympics will be any different?

Well you're right. We were thrilled to win the right to host the games in Singapore, but because that was effectively the first time we had won a bidding competition. In 1908 the games were awarded to Rome, but Mount Vesuvius erupted and the Italian government had to spend all their funds repairing that disaster. So London took over the games in 1908. In 1948 we almost effectively volunteered to take the organization just after the second war.

The word you used in your question was contemporary and I think that's exactly right. We've tried to do two things in our organization. One is to develop and provide a legacy for the city by building new facilities in the east end of the city. Secondly, we have tried to make use of as many existing facilities as we can, and we have introduced what you would call demountable structures. The basketball hall for example in the Olympic park is demountable and when the games are over we can take it down and move it to some other part of the country and put it back up again. So we are trying to be efficient, we are trying to be cost efficient, we are trying to put in sustainable facilities are so far we are succeeding.

Q: Tell us your best memory from the Beijing games and do you think there is anything London can learn?

I have nothing but happy memories of the Beijing Games. My sport was badminton. Badminton is a major sport in China so I watched some marvelous badminton in the university gymnasium that was used in the Beijing games. The ceremonies was fantastic, the organization was fantastic and you set very high standard.

We will have to do it differently. Our stadium is not built in the same way as the birds nest stadium. Our ceremonies will be slightly different. Beijing Games were a wonderful, wonderful national celebration on behalf of the biggest country in the world. London is different. London is a very, very well known mature and cosmopolitan city. We will have a slightly different view. We will be very welcoming to the whole world. There are 300 nationalities all based in London. We can have a slightly different approach. But we know the standards that were set by Beijing were extremely high and we will be proud to meet them.

Q: What kind of special program do you think will be shown on the one year to go ceremony?

Well, we will be welcoming the president of the IOC. The ceremony will be run in Trafalgar Square, which is one of the main squares in the center of London. The highlight will be him issuing six invitations to major national Olympic committees which is the formal by the international Olympic committee to those countries to come to the games. China will be represented, Britain will be represented, Brazil will be represented, Greece will be represented, and that will be one of the highlights. We will also be putting on a small cultural display. All our political leaders – the men of London – will be there, and we hope it's a very happy day.

Q: Will it be easy for Chinese citizens/tourists to come to London for games?

Well the Visa system works, I know, because every time I'm in London, particularly in the summer months, I see ever-more people from your country who come and visit us as tourists. We have many, many Chinese people visiting us, so I know the Visa system works. Your English is if anything, even better than mine, so you will have no difficulty communicating with people. There is a very substantial Chinese community in London, there is some wonderful Chinese food in London, so I hope you will feel at home. But I also hope you begin to enjoy some of the aspects of the city that will be different from your culture in Beijing, because that's one of the joys of coming to an Olympic games, that you get to enjoy the culture of the host city, instead of looking to replicate your own culture in a different city. I see no difficulty for you coming in, and we will be very glad to welcome you.

Q: Will it be easy to get tickets to the Olympic Games, especially for foreigners?

Let me take you briefly through the ticketing system. About 20% of the tickets from Olympic games are sold internationally. National Olympic committees all around the world have a certain allocation of tickets. This is arranged by the IOC, so you can actually buy London tickets in China, or you can buy them in the United States, or in Germany. As far as the ticket allocation in Britain is concerned, what we did is we built a great deal of enthusiasm for the Olympic tickets by putting together a very, very good marketing program. We told people well in advance that these were important tickets for the greatest show on earth. What we managed to do is create such a demand that we couldn't satisfy the complete demand. The first ticket allocation system in Britain, almost two million people applied for 22 mill tickets when we only had 5 and a half million tickets to sell. So you can walk out from there point of view that there were people who were disappointed and people who were successful. Since then, we have allocated more tickets to those who were disappointed, and we will do that again towards the end of the year when we have another bunch of tickets for sale. The personal disappointments, I'm sorry for those people who were disappointed, but it has to do with the demand that we had, and in many ways the demand we created. However, on the other side of the coin, we now have sold out almost 23 of the 26 sports. We've sold out all the seats about a year before the games. There will be some more tickets for all sports, but we know these will sell. Effectively, we are going to have full stadiums for the athletes, which is what we wanted to achieve. And we're also as a private sector company, we are also very happy at the success of the tickets selling process, because that gives us the funds we need to organize the games.