Thursday, 19 January 2012

Olympic Park

One of the first things I see every morning when I wake up is the BT Tower. The 177 meter tall structure has displayed various messages since I moved into the top floor of Newman House – one morning I woke up to see Pudsy the Children In Need mascot peering in, the week before Remembrance Sunday the tower looked as though it was adorned with poppies and fireworks kept exploding around New Year.  Apart from these special occasions the screens on the tower display a countdown to the Olympic Games, which happens to coincide with end of my internship.

So, the Olympics is always on my mind – well once a day anyway – and it was therefore a fantastic opportunity for me to have a tour of the Olympic park today. Such is the nature of this internship that I thought nothing of jumping on the DLR with the Archbishop of Westminster and trundling off to East London to meet a group of priests from the neighbouring diocese of Brentwood.

Plenty of the priests were reminiscing about past sporting achievements at school or uni and challenging each other to 100m sprints as we set off on a bus around the Olympic park.


Less than 200 days to go and the park’s resemblance to a building site is still uncanny. Hundreds of men in high-vis jackets waved as we went past.  The shells of all the major buildings on site are nearly complete. The Velodrom is a beautiful structure and stands in stark contrast to the ‘Copper Box’ which will house the handball tournament and be raized to the ground after the Games due to a lack of interest in the sport in the UK.

The Olympic Village looks like a new university halls complex and is the first of its kind as all athletes regardless of when their event is will be able to stay on site.  The 2012 London Olympics will also be the ‘greenest’ Games yet as the site will be powered by gas and wood-chip burnt as biomass. 800, 000 spectators will travel to the park by public transport and the only car park there is for media trucks and disabled visitors.

Olympic Village

Faith will literally be at the heart of the Olympic park in the Faith Centre that will accommodate five of the world’s main religions. The Christian section has been split in two and as Catholic’s we get our very own space. Twenty-four chaplains will be assigned to work at the Games, providing 24/7 pastoral care to visitors, staff and athletes alike.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols in front of Olympic Stadium

As the park will go into ‘lock-down’ in May until the day before the Opening Ceremony, this was a great time to see it all coming together. Check out the links below to see related Catholic initiatives.

100 Days of Peace:
John Paul 2 Foundation for Sport:

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