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It's tough at the top


One defining moment - the elation of seeing London win the right to host the 2012 Olympics - has been rapidly replaced by the reality of the task in hand to prepare the capital for the greatest Games ever.

I'm already worried. It is early days, of course, but the proposed structure of the organisations charged with turning the 2012 dream into a reality seems at best scarily complex and at worst a bureaucratic nightmare.

Let's hope not. After all, in its explanation of the structure, the government insists that it is keen for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to have 'considerable operational autonomy to deliver the Games infrastructure on time and to budget'.

The trouble is that to achieve this, the publicly funded ODA must report through the secretary of state for culture media and sport and Parliament to the Olympic Board to deliver what is required by the privately funded London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to meet commitments made to the international Olympic Committee.

Straightforward- Well it would be were it not for the need to liaise with the mayor of London, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and the Olympic Lottery Distributor while at the same time ensuring that its funding from central government, the National Lottery, Council Tax and the London Development Agency is being appropriately spent and prioritised.

As I say, it is scary. But then this is the biggest show on earth and it is coming to one of the biggest, most sophisticated cities in the world. No one will have ever done anything like this before.

And that is, of course, what makes it such an attractive project for every right-minded project manager. Making these Games a success will be, as many of those spoken to by NCE this week explain, 'the chance of a lifetime' and a chance to put yourself into the history books.

So while we have all been under starter's orders since the 6 July decision came London's way, the recent flurry of job advertisements and head-hunter activity certainly signals a call to the blocks.

But if you are reaching for your mouse to click onto www. alastinglegacy. co. uk for an application form, be aware that this seven year project will come at a price. Getting this far has meant huge amounts of work - an enormous commitment of energy and effort - by a massive number of people. And even more people will have to work even harder if we are to successfully make real the dream of hosting an outstanding event - while at the same time handing on the infrastructure legacy needed to kick-start sport and revitalise run-down parts of east London.

The construction industry will play a pivotal role from now until the Games open in 2012 to ensure that this infrastructure is properly planned, designed, put in place and operational ready for the athletes. Innovation and creativity at every step will be vital to carry the project to delivery.

As we have highlighted this week, there are many able candidates for the top jobs in this process. Whoever lands these career defing roles must have the political savvy to cut through the bureaucracy and ensure construction has the desired 'operational autonomy' to get the job done properly.

Antony Oliver is editor of NCE

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