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The 2012 Olympics – gold, silver, bronze … and green

The 2012 Olympics – gold, silver, bronze … and green

As memories of the glitz and the glamour of the World Cup in South Africa fade, attention is turning to the next truly global sports-fest: the 2012 London Olympics. (Photo:  London 2012 Aquatic Center)

In just 728 days time 4 billion people will switch on their TVs to see the famous march past of thousands of Olympic athletes proudly marching behind their respective national flags. I’ll bet many Sierra Leoneans will be there too.

Britain has been working flat out to get ready. Stratford in East London is being transformed by the largest urban regeneration site in Europe: 2,818 homes are being built in the Olympic Village; 200 km of electricity cable are being laid; 6km of tunnels dug; 75,000 plants put into an eco-friendly wetland around the Olympic Park. Even a cable car is being specially built to shuttle athletes, officials and spectators across the river Thames.

30 major constructions companies employing over 6,500 workers have created a colourful, buzzing and sometimes phantasmagorical scene. Cranes, cement mixers, tractors, trucks, backhoes and even buses (to shuttle workers around) compete for scarce space around the soaring hyper modern sports facilities under construction. With all its complexity its amazing that everything is on time and within budget.

In order to make London 2012 the greenest Olympics yet, each building and stadium is being constructed to meet specific targets. Rainwater is being collected to reduce the water used in the buildings. Through a whole host of new innovations, the Olympic Authority is aiming to cut the entire project’s carbon footprint by 50 percent. But making the Olympics in 2012 green shouldn’t be seen as being ahead of the curve — not having a green Olympics in 2012 should be seen as lagging behind.

Don’t forget that not everything is being built from scratch. Existing and historic facilities are being used, too: Horse Guards Parade, more accustomed to the pomp and circumstance of the Trooping of the Colour, will host the Beach Volleyball; Hyde Park will become the venue for equestrian events; for Gymnastics head over to the O2 Arena; soccer-mad Sierra Leoneans will want to know that the football medals will be decided at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry.

For the British the Olympics mean more than the Games. Hosting such a huge event will impact every part of their lives, from culture to health, from education to the environment, from the economy to their local communities.

And as Olympic Hosts they have and incredible opportunity to showcase modern Britain as one of the worlds best places to live, work, visit and do business – a country that is:

  • Welcoming – open, outward looking, generous and proud;
  • Tolerant – fair, open minded, courteous and respectful to all;
  • Diverse  – more than 50 nations participating in the Olympiad will be cheered on by a resident community of more that 10,000 of their fellow citizens resident in Britain;
  • Dynamic – passionate, exuberant and energetic with a great sense of humour

And across the world, the International Inspiration programme aims to reach young people all around the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games so that they are inspired to take up a sport. The aspiration is to reach 12 million children in 20 countries by 2012.

The Sierra Leone Olympic Committee is determined to be represented. Who will go is yet to be decided. Perhaps their brightest hope is 19 year old Michaela Kargbo. A sprinter, Michaela represented Sierra Leone at the Beijing Olympiad. She will represent Mama Salone again at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October this year. Let’s hope she does well. Let’s hope too that she has plenty of company from Sierra Leone. And that we can all cheer them on to the winners’ podium.

It’s taken you just two minutes to read this article and there are just two years to the Olympics. I can hardly wait – can you?

British High Commission, Freetown

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