London celebrates 100-day countdown to Olympics | News | DW | 18.04.2012
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London celebrates 100-day countdown to Olympics

It is 100 days until Britain hosts to the 2012 Olympics games and celebrations have been in full swing. Organizers have been keen to build Olympic fever after some trepidation over London's ability to stage the event.

Britainmarked the 100-day countdown to the London Olympics on Wednesday with a series of celebrations around the country.

Some 20,000 flowers were planted in the shape of Olympic rings in London's Kew Gardens and were visible to planes flying into London Heathrow airport. With some 31 out of 42 sports test events completed so far, dress rehearsals for wheelchair rugby, synchronised swimming and shooting were also scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

"There is a groundswell of support and excitement, not just in the UK, but internationally as the final countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games begins," former Olympic gold medallist and London Games chairman Sebastian Coe told reporters at Kew Gardens.

"Whether it's the competing athletes or people getting ready to join their communities in supporting torchbearers on the streets of the UK, the whole world is getting ready for London."

"Expectations are high, and we won't disappoint," he added.

Elsewhere, events were taking place in Istanbul, Caracas, Wellington, Berlin, Sarajevo, St. Petersburg and the Palestinian Territories. In the United States former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis was due to lead 100 cyclists and an open-top London double-decker bus on a tour of Miami's South Beach.

London'ready'

Initial concerns over London's ability to stage the event were pacified somewhat last month when the International Olympic Committee commission chairman Denis Oswald proclaimed that "London is ready to welcome the world."

The Olympic Park in London

Organizers are still putting the finishing touches on London's Olympic park

"We can feel that London is feeling the fever of the Games," Oswald said. "We are in no doubt that this summer will be a summer like no other in Britain."

Nevertheless, Paul Deighton, the London Games chief executive, stressed that there was still an "enormous amount to do." Several temporary venues have yet to be completed and some 200,000 temporary seats must still be installed.

Concerns also remain over how London's already stretched transport system will cope with a surge of tourists and athletes descending on the city.

Queen Elizabeth II is due to open the Games at a lavish ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, on July 27. London is the first city in modern times to host the games three times.

ccp/mz (Reuters, AFP)