I remember hearing the announcement back in 2005 - ''The International Olympic Committee has the honour of announcing that the games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the City of ......... London''. Misery in Madrid, New York, Moscow and Paris. That Wednesday afternoon, the roads of east London had become snarled with traffic as people took to the streets to celebrate the IOC's announcement. People were celebrating the fact that we'd won the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games, but at the time I was only jubilant because we'd beaten the French. I wasn't confident that as a Nation, we had the ability to build the infrastructure and host a successful Games. Recent experiences of government driven engineering projects didn't bode well; Wembley Stadium, Scottish Parliament, Portcullis House and The Dome, all financial disasters that came in well behind schedule. I had visions of athletes running across building sites and of tourist's wandering aimlessly, and possibly quite dangerously, around the east end of London as the promised new transport links failed to deliver them to the new venues.
Progress towards 2012 wasn't exactly smooth. The day after the IOC's announcement we suffered the tragic bombings of 7/7 and celebrations immediately turned to mourning. Then there was the '2012 Logo' fiasco and a minor miscalculation on the costings as the combined brains of Whitehall had forgotten to add VAT to the budget. For a year, nothing seemed to happen. Several times each day, I rode passed the proposed Olympic site in Stratford and it seemed that nothing was changing. Then in April 2008, I left London and didn't return until January 2009.
What a difference a year makes. Over the summer of 2008, Team GB (and NI) had enjoyed their most successful Olympics ever and new buildings had risen form the wastelands along the East Cross Route running north from Stratford. Today, 27th July 2009, it's exactly three years until the opening ceremony and I'm actually quite confident that we'll make it on time. Physically, I think that we'll be prepared for the Olympic games and for once I'll happily give credit to the government for making it happen. OK, the government have made it happen by learning from their previous mistakes and standing back to let the real professionals get on with their jobs, but at least they've had the good sense to avoid interfering. There's still an awful lot of work to be done, perhaps especially in the area of 'Customer Service' ........ but I honestly think that we stand a very good chance of succeeding.www.justgiving.com/geoffgthomas