“The 2012 Olympic Games are an exemplar for how the public sector delivers a quality vision on time and within budget”
So after seven years of planning, design and construction the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic Games finally kicks off the month of sport.
And without question, thanks in no small measure to the construction industry, the UK is in shape to deliver a show to remember - and, with a fair wind, could possibly even surpass Sydney to become the greatest Games ever.
There will of course, be many in the industry for whom the whole 2012 experience has so far failed to engage, either socially, commercially or geographically - those who right now, reading this column, are already tearing up their NCE with the cry of “I don’t care”.
Rather than feeling the excitement of the impending festival or seeing the legacy created across a swathe of once derelict and discarded land in east London, it is clear that to them and many others London 2012 simply represents another £9bn pumped into the already inflated South East.
And even among those who have directly benefited, there will be many in the construction industry still smarting from the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) sponsorship rules preventing them from really shouting about their excellent work. Work carried out across every field of civil engineering, from planning to design to management to construction.
Yet neither of these issues should be allowed to detract from the fact that this next month really does - really must - represent something special for the whole UK, socially as well as economically.
As discussed in NCE’s Olympic special two weeks ago, the key to this success stems from the overarching ambition back in 2004 when the original bid was put before the IOC to create the most sustainable Games ever.
Notwithstanding the fact that it involves a huge amount of consumption to stage, the challenge has been to shift thinking in terms of how future events might be planned.
Hence the huge emphasis on temporary venues where permanent had no future use. Hence the focus on building post-Games legacy into not only physical assets but also the construction and operation and maintenance contracts.
Because the London 2012 Games is more than just a month of sport. It is a blueprint for how nations should plan, prepare and deliver future Olympic events. It is an exemplar for how the public sector delivers a quality vision on time and within budget.
So my advice is simple - no matter where you live in the UK, make an effort over the next month to get a ticket, anOlympic Park entry pass or simply hang out around one of the capital’s numerous big screens to share the experience.
London 2012 is truly a once in a lifetime experience and one that has, and will, rely on civil engineering excellence to provide quality venues, transport, logistics and legacy. Enjoy it.
- Antony Oliver is NCE’s editor