The London Olympics - Making It Happen

by : India Cooper

Building an Olympic Games is no mean feat. It's not just a matter of erecting a few stadia and swimming pools. There are all sorts of infrastructure and transport facilities to create, as well as a legacy to leave for underprivileged areas. And a lot of the London Olympics site is on contaminated land which has first to be cleaned up before any building work can begin.

The task for the 2012 London Olympics is so massive that the Construction Skills Network currently believes that the project will need to attract a further 182,000 builders to be ready on time. This includes a range of trades, for example 13,000 more bricklayers and 15,000 extra plumbers. Workers will be needed in 2011 in particular. That will be the most labour intensive time, in the run up to the Games.

In total the CSN believes 2.8 million construction workers will need to be working in the UK as a whole as we approach 2012. This figure includes 122,000 bricklayers, 161,000 decorators, 211,000 electricians and 189,000 plumbers. While the Olympic Village is going up other projects will need to carry on - there are always new hospitals, schools, roads, homes and other buildings to be built and it can't all stop for the Olympics.

To achieve this, a lot of migrant workers from overseas will be relied upon but there are also various training schemes being set up to attract people into the trades. These include the National Skills Academy for Construction which aims to train people on-site on large construction projects, with construction firms taking the lead and deciding which skills gaps need to be addressed. There are other training schemes available too, and the Government has highlighted the need to encourage women into the industry.

Of course hosting the Olympics means providing sporting facilities on a massive scale. The Olympic Stadium will be a bowl with seating for 80,000 people. It will be the heart of the event, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and all athletics competitions. Then there will be an aquatics centre where swimming, synchronised swimming, diving, water polo and the modern pentathlon will take place, with a total capacity of 22,500 seats. Next, the velodrome which will have room for 6,000 spectators and further arenas for fencing, hockey, handball and basketball. Together they will have seating for a further 48,000 people.

Its thought that up to 180,000 spectators will visit the Games daily so its not only the venues, but the infrastructure that will have to be ready. Transport links, numerous walkways and footbridges and loop roads need to be built. And of course everyone will want to eat, be entertained, buy their Olympics souvenirs and if necessary get medical attention, so catering and other facilities are also being constructed.

One issue that's of paramount importance to athletes is being near their sporting venue. The Olympic village, which will house 17,000 people, aims to ensure that nobody is more than twenty minutes from their stadium or arena, minimising wasteful travel time for sportsmen and officials. But not only will it house competitors, it will also have shops, restaurants, medical and media facilities, leisure facilities and open spaces for people to relax in. Every apartment will have internet access and lifts and will be used later for much needed housing in the area.

There will be 7.7 million tickets on sale for the London Olympics and the aim is to get as many spectators as possible to arrive at venues by public transport, cycling and on foot. This will involve a huge amount of logistical work. For example the plan is to have a 7 minute train link between central London and the Olympic Park.

The Olympics should be a wonderful event - a showpiece for British sport but also for British building work. The Olympic Village will become an internationally recognised location in a hitherto neglected area - that alone may encourage many to become builders and help make it happen.