With 85 days to go until the London Olympics begin, the city is undergoing a dress rehearsal in a frenzy of activity.
Finishing touches are going on Olympic facilities, including the 80,000-seat stadium that will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Security measures ranging from fighter jets to river maneuvers to canine units are all undergoing testing. Residents of an apartment building even received a pamphlet informing them that the top of their building will likely be housing surface-to-air missiles.
“I don’t think anyone wants to live in a militarized apartment building,’’ resident Brian Whelan told NBC News.
“I think all of you would expect us to have a plan in place that works,’’ General Nick Parker of the British Ministry of Defense responded. “So if it were to happen, we could deal with it.’’
The sporting venues are being tested, too — by athletes undergoing their own trials. A water polo pool that was under construction only a week ago hosted a tune-up game between Britain and Hungary. On the sparkling new field hockey pitch, Argentina took it to China in another warm-up for when the games count.
“It’s always interesting when you’re talking, and, ‘Oh, did you find anything wrong at the test event?’’’ Paul Deighton of the London Olympic organizing committee told NBC’s Michelle Kosinski. “Of course we did!’’
In some events, competitors learned the hard way that their venue might need an additional tweak or two.
“At the BMX track, the jump for some of the women was a bit too big when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, so we had slightly too many crashes, for example,’’ Deighton said.
With the pomp and circumstance of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee coming up next month and the Olympics to follow, the organizers are focused on ensuring that the reported $17 billion cost of the Games benefits London in the future through reuse of the venues and tourism marketing. Deighton said the British are not concerned with outdoing the spectacle put on by Beijing in 2008.
“Every city brings something completely different,’’ he said.
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