London 2012 chief Lord Coe has hit out at the negativity surrounding the build-up to the Olympic Games.
The former athlete said people were “overwhelmingly very positive” about the event, despite concerns over security, transport and strict sponsorship rules.
“There are things we have done really well,” he insisted, highlighting praise he had received from athletes and the international media about the facilities built for the Games. But in an occasionally testy interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Lord Coe defended the Games organisers from claims that there had been a heavy-handed approach to protecting sponsors’ rights.
Presenter Evan Davis challenged the Olympics supremo on whether he would be allowed to turn up to an event in a Pepsi T-shirt.
Lord Coe told him: “No, you probably wouldn’t be walking in with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and they have put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grassroots sport. It is important to protect those sponsors.”
Lord Coe also insisted the “Zil lanes” open only to Olympics traffic are vital for the smooth running of the Games. He added: “The famous Zil lane, as you call it, is actually something that takes people to work. There are 140 IOC (International Olympic Committee) members, let’s just put this into perspective, they will be using that lane, people going to work, many of them are presidents of international federations they will be in those venues early in the morning.
“There are, actually, using those lanes about 20,000 members of the media, of which about 700 will probably be BBC people.”
Asked whether a “negative narrative” was taking hold, Lord Coe said: “I’m neither cavalier about this or overly sanguine. It comes with the territory.”
He added: “I’m talking to people who think they have come to a Games that has delivered in the areas that they need in a way that no Games has delivered before.”
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