Giant Olympic Rings unveiling heralds London 2012 Festival programme for Wales
Sunday, 13 May 2012
May 13 - A giant set of Olympic Rings has been unveiled in the fountain outside Cardiff's historic City Hall – ahead of the city's hosting of the first sporting event of London 2012, football on July 25.
The 18-metre long, eight-metre high Rings will provide the backdrop to Cardiff's celebrations when the Olympic Torch visits the city on June 2 and when the Millennium Stadium (pictured below) hosts 11 matches during the football tournament.
The 3.1-tonne Rings are made entirely of aluminium with a powder-coat finish, and features circles in recognisable blue, yellow, black, green and red colours on the front and plain silver on the reverse.
In total, nearly 1,500 hours were spent designing, engineering and fabricating the Rings and its 11-tonne supporting structure.
The Rings will remain in place throughout the Olympics before being replaced by a Paralympic Agitos, the symbol for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC); this will be in time for Cardiff's Flame Festival to celebrate the lighting of Wales' Paralympic flame on August 27, ahead of the Paralympic Torch Relay and the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
"These Rings will excite and inspire residents and visitors to Wales about the Olympic Games in the UK, and will provide a spectacular backdrop for Cardiff's celebrations when it hosts Olympic football matches," said London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.
"Being launched three months before the Millennium Stadium hosts the very first sporting event of London 2012, they show that Wales is ready to welcome the world."
"The unveiling of the Olympic Rings in Cardiff signals the start of a period of celebration and hope for participants and enthusiasts who, along with myself, are counting down the days to the start of this sporting spectacular in our very own Millennium Stadium," said Cheryl Gillan, the Secretary of State for Wales.
"The whole of Wales is ready to welcome the world, make the most of London 2012 and maximise the benefits for the whole country."
The unveiling of Rings coincided with the launch of the full London 2012 Festival programme for Wales.
The London 2012 Festival is a 12-week nationwide celebration running from June 21 until September 9, and brings together leading artists from the United Kingdom (UK) and across the world.
It will feature 19 different events in 12 towns and villages across Wales during a period of 79 days.
In addition, many more UK-wide cultural opportunities for people across Wales to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the majority of which will be free, will be held.
Highlights of the London 2012 Festival in Wales include the Africa Express, which will see a train of world-famous and emerging African and Western musicians call at Cardiff as part of a seven-day collaborative musical journey around the UK.
In addition, the Big Dance 2012 at Cardiff Mela will be a multicultural celebration of dance and music and the Paralympic Flame Festival - a free event at Cardiff's Roald Dahl Plass and one of four UK events celebrating the lighting of the Paralympic Flame.
There are hundreds of other exciting London 2012 Festival opportunities across the UK with the full programme set to be announced tomorrow.
The launch comes the day after the draw for the London 2012 football tournament when it was revealed that four men's and seven women's matches will take place at the Millennium Stadium.
These include the maiden event of the Olympics in which Team GB's women will play its opening group game against New Zealand on July 25, two days ahead of the Opening Ceremony.
"Coming from Newport and having experienced the atmosphere of an Olympic Games, I am so excited that the Olympics and the London 2012 Festival are coming to Wales," said Jamie Baulch (pictured top), the former sprinter who won Olympic silver as part of the 4x400 metres relay team at Atlanta 1996.
"The Games are now only three months away.
"Seeing the Olympic Rings and hearing about all these great cultural events taking place has made it feel even closer.
"I can't wait!"
The official London 2012 Festival brochure is available from the London 2012 Festival website by clicking here.
April 2012: Giant Olympic Rings unveiled at Birmingham Airport
February 2012: Giant Olympic Rings launched down River Thames to mark 150 days to London 2012
January 2012: Olympic Rings on Edinburgh Castle would damage heritage, says Historic Scotland
December 2011: Olympic Rings unveiled on Channel Tunnel entrance to mark 20/12 day
March 2011: First Olympic rings for London 2012 unveiled at St Pancras by Coe and Johnson