Giant Olympic Rings unveiled at Heathrow welcome visitors to London 2012
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
June 20 - A new set of giant Olympic Rings have today been unveiled at Heathrow, the official host airport of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, providing a spectacular visual welcome to athletes and visitors during the Games.
The aluminium Rings (pictured above) measure 12 metres in width, the same as a double-decker bus, and have been installed at Terminal 5, which is used exclusively for international arrivals and departures.
In total, the giant Olympic Rings will be seen by at least two million passengers travelling through Heathrow during the Games and they were officially unveiled by former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster.
"I know first-hand the nervous excitement that every athlete feels when they arrive for the Olympic Games," said the 42-year-old from Essex, who carried the British Flag at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony.
"The atmosphere is electric and often the airport is the first time we see fans and really feel the special buzz of the weeks to come.
"The Rings will create a huge sense of excitement and be a great part of the welcome for everyone travelling though the terminal."
Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world and will be the main point of entry for the Olympics and Paralympics, with around 80 per cent of people travelling to the Games from outside the United Kingdom set to pass through it.
"The Olympic Rings are an iconic symbol, inspiring athletes and uniting people around the world," said London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton, who was also at the unveiling.
"To athletes they represent the culmination of thousands of hours of training and reaching the highest level in sport.
"As we welcome the world, these Rings will excite and inspire visitors arriving at Heathrow."
Entertainment at the launch event was provided by the Band of the Irish Guards -with a little help from London 2012 mascot Wenlock (pictured above) - while Garrison Sergeant Major William Mott OBE, whose 30-foot portrait in Terminal 5 shows him dressed in the iconic Welsh Guards ceremonial red tunic and bearskin cap, was also present.
"Heathrow is the first impression of the United Kingdom that the majority of guests arriving for the London 2012 Games will have, so we want a special welcome that will get passengers in the Olympic spirit," said Nick Cole, head of Olympic and Paralympic planning at Heathrow.
"We're delighted to have the Rings in place to celebrate the start of the Games."
Giant sets of Olympic Rings – one of the world's most recognisable logos – are being installed at iconic sites across the UK, including on The Mound in Edinburgh and St Pancras International, to excite and inspire people ahead of the Games.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2012: Airlines warn of chaos at London airports during 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
October 2011: Heathrow Airport begin search for volunteers to work during London 2012
August 2011: Heathrow chosen as host airport of London 2012 Games
April 2009: London lining up BAA as 2012 sponsor