Exclusive: IOC still have fears over traffic for London 2012
By Tom Degun in Singapore
August 25 - Traffic remains the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) biggest fear when London hosts the 2012 Games, they have admitted.
Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Executive Director for the Olympic Games, conceded that still have concerns that traffic will affect the organisation of the event, which is due to begin on July 27 and last for 17 days.
London’s roads are notoriously congested with slow moving motor vehicles, particularly during rush hours, and it is predicted that when the 2012 Games come to the capital in under two years time, there will be a significant increase in heavy traffic in the city.
Felli told insidethegames: "I don’t think it [traffic] is the biggest issue concerning London 2012 - I know it is.
"We knew before going to London that this was going to be an issue because you cannot change the streets in London.
"The roundabout will remain the roundabout!
"So the question for us is how can we tackle that?"
The issue of how to deal with the problem has been the only consistent source of tension between the IOC and London 2012 but Felli, currently overseeing the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics here, is optimistic that the solutions proposed will ensure that things go smoothly.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) last month launched a £25 million ($39 million) scheme designed to ensure that athletes, officials and other members of the Olympic Movement are able to move comfortably around the capital during the Games.
The lanes will include the areas around Wembley Stadium in North West London, Lord's cricket ground where the archery will take place, through central London and out to the main Games site at Stratford and also out to Greenwich in South East London.
The Olympic Route Network (ORN), which will include measures such as closing side roads, banning turns and altering traffic light sequences, will comprise more than 100 miles in London and around 170 miles outside London.
The ORN will be used by 18,000 athletes and officials during the Olympics as well as 6,000 during the Paralympics.
Among those also eligible to use the ORN will be judges, referees and umpires, around 28,000 representatives of the media and 25,000 sponsors and their guests.
Felli (pictured) said: "London is coming up with a certain number of proposals that we believe are feasible.
"Now we need to do more tests and of course, everybody will have to understand that we [the IOC] are normal and need efficient transport.
"There is no point in saying that we will be somewhere in two minutes if it takes ten because even if you have an Olympic Lane, you can still have heavy traffic and bottlenecks.
"But the concept to be in the centre of a beautiful city like London is also an asset for the Games; so it’s compulsive."
Felli, though, praised the overall preparations of the London 2012 Games and claimed that he believes that the city will benefit enormously from hosting the competition for the first time since 1948.
He said: "London is going very well.
"It has good organising committee, the preparations are on track, the venues will be beautiful and the people working there have a lot of experience working on past Games.
"Also, what we see in London is a lot of work being done on other things not directly concerning the Games such as social issues, youth issues and legacy issues so I think in the end, the product will be an excellent product for Britain, for London and for the Olympic Movement."
August 2010: ODA appoints PR company to handle transport plans for London 2012
July 2010: London 2012 reveal details of Olympic lanes
November 2009: Johnson to remind Rogge he promised to use public transport in 2012
December 2008: Plans for London 2012 Olympic lanes unveiled