200 days to go: Coe’s Olympic media message

The chairman of LOCOG, LORD COE, begins the final countdown to the Greatest Show on Earth with this message for the Sports Journalists’ Association

Lord Coe: Time for the sports media to get ready for the Games

With 200 days to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, we head into the final lap of our journey towards staging two of the biggest sporting events on the planet – the Olympic and the Paralympic Games.

In a little more than six months, the global spotlight will be on London and the United Kingdom – 15,000 athletes, 7,000 technical officials and 20,000 accredited media from more than 200 countries will be in London and around Britain, while across the world 4 billion people will be tuning in on television across the Games.

We are working hard to ensure 34 competition venues and another 100 non-sporting venues are ready. LOCOG officially takes over the operation and running of the Olympic Park today, but there’s lots of work still to do. We need to install broadcasting facilities and studios, technology infrastructure, temporary event overlay, power cabling, water and waste systems, catering concessions, ceremony installations, field of play surfaces. We will be constructing 273 temporary buildings and seven canteens, sponsor showcasing buildings across the Park and Games Look throughout venues and common domain. The Orbit continues to be constructed and the Village will be fitted out and furnished.

We’ll continue testing and licensing our venues and training our teams, from security to catering through to cleaning, to ensure we’re ready to host the Greatest Show on Earth. We will be holding 11 test events in Olympic Park venues between February and May. During the first weekend in May, five venues and all the common areas of the Olympic Park will be in use, with 80,000 visitors expected to the Park on Saturday May 5 alone.

London's Olympic Park: due to be handed over from ODA to LOCOG today

We also need to ensure we have all the products and services we need to stage the Games and more than 1 million pieces of sporting equipment are required. As we head into the final stages of our procurement programme, we expect to award nearly £900 million worth of contracts, with 95 per cent of our spend has been within the UK. This will be a showcase for the UK’s large and small companies who have contributed to the world’s biggest sporting events.

Now is the time for the public to get ready and plan their summer. This festival of sport will see more than a thousand sports sessions and a variety of ways to experience them, whether as a ticket-holder, watching at a London 2012 Live Site around the UK, or watching the events unfold on television with family and friends.

But there are many more ways to celebrate this once-in-a-generation event coming to the UK and a specific Join In event listing site has been launched today to provide information to people across the UK.

Between May and July, the Olympic Torch will be coming within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the UK. Carried by inspirational people, the Torch will unite communities and herald the start of London 2012. There will be more than a thousand spectacular events taking place as part of the London 2012 Festival celebrating the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture. Opening on June 21, this 12-week celebration will see events from the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, to the remotest corner of the Shetland Islands, from the Raploch Estate in Scotland to Hadrian’s Wall on England’s most northern border, from Stonehenge to the shores of Lake Windermere, from the forests of North Wales and right into the heart of the capital.

Children in London 2012’s education programme “Get Set” will be celebrating work they’re doing supporting Olympic and Paralympic teams from around the world, learning more about athletes and cultures from the countries they’ve been studying.

Whether you’re an athlete, an artist, a member of the community looking to celebrate this summer, or a young sports journalist waiting to be blooded on their first Games or a seasoned sports reporter covering the Olympics, this is going to be an amazing year. So plan your summer now and make the most of the 2012 Games.