Behind the scenes at the Olympics

When the curtain at the Olympic Stadium went up on July 27, hundreds of millions of people around the world watched in awe as a spectacular show unfolded. Heather Hancock, lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte, gives us a sneak peek behind the scenes.

by Heather Hancock
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
While thousands of volunteers performed a mesmerising display on stage, behind the scenes many of those involved in bringing the Games to London witnessed years of careful preparation and planning come to fruition.

The Opening Ceremony may have signalled the end of the planning period, but it also marked the point when the focus on London was at its most intense: the proof point of just how good our Olympic Games, in a city of over seven million people, could be.  This is the largest logistical exercise this country has undertaken in peacetime, according to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog). The delivery programme is relentless and, with an immovable deadline, there could be no shortcuts and no delays.

The journey to July 27 began nearly a decade ago, when the Government confirmed its intention to bid for the Games in 2003. Since then Deloitte has been working closely with the London bid team, and subsequently with Locog, to help ensure this gargantuan project is delivered.

One of the earliest challenges was to help design the organising committee’s structure. Back in 2005, Locog consisted of a handful of people, headed by Seb Coe. During the peak of the Games, the organisation will have soared to 200,000 people, dropping down again to double figures after the Paralympic Games on September 9. It is a hugely accelerated life cycle, like a pop-up FTSE 100 company which has to be built and then dismantled in eight years. Whereas most companies develop organically over decades, this time it had to be designed for a clear end goal, but with some distinct changes of focus; from strategy, to planning, to operations to actual delivery.

Locog had to be meticulous in its planning. When you consider some of the numbers involved, it could get rather intimidating: 10,500 athletes; 76 miles of temporary fencing – enough to stretch from Canary Wharf to Weymouth and Portland; 2,500 tent units equalling 2.5m sq ft – which could cover all of Hong Kong; 6,000 archery target faces and 45,000 meals served per day in the Village.

The success of London 2012 has been achieved through the hard work and commitment of businesses and communities right across the country: from the hundreds of small and medium sized companies that have won 70% of contracts awarded on these Games; to the 10,000 residents of the six host boroughs who have worked on the Olympic Park and Village; through to thousands of incredible Games makers from all over the country who have made this Games so welcoming and memorable.  

The Games have already been a resounding success for Britain, but there is still more to do. The Paralympic Games has sold more tickets than any previous Games, and will be a fantastic 12 days of sport. And the legacy continues to unfold, factored into each and every decision at London 2012, forming the first chapter in London’s bid book, not the last. Stakeholders from across government and business will need to remain committed to – and be accountable for – ensuring the regeneration programme continues apace and the UK makes the most of the massive reputational boost these Games have delivered.

Heather Hancock is lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte

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