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500 Days to London 2012


Acting British High Commissioner Amanda Brooks presenting Dr Vivian Balakrishnan a set of commemorative pins. (Photo: SSC)


With more than a year to go to the 2012 Olympics in London, the excitement is already building for host nation Britain.

 

On 16 March, the British High Commission organised an event at the Eden Hall to count down the 500 days to the Olympics, an occasion that has been six years in the making since London was announced as the host city in Singapore in 2005.

 

In those six years the organisers have put in place grand designs for an event that is more than just the biggest and most prestigious sporting meet of all, it is also to be one with a social conscience.

 

“The events held to coincide with the 1948 London Games would later give birth to the Paralympic movement,” reminded William Hague, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. “We intend to honour this tradition of innovation by organising games that are more environmentally sustainable, accessible and inclusive than ever.”

 

In that vein, most of the constructions for the Games are done with reused materials and 4,000 trees have been planted around the country’s capital, “providing an new lung for the city of London,” as Hague put it.

 

While the Olympics are already a mammoth event, with 15,000 athletes in 302 events from over 28 countries, the Paralympic Games are also being held in tandem, featuring 471 events for athletes with disabilities.

 

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports was in attendence and lent words of encouragement saying, "Having gone through organising our much smaller marathon of the Youth Olympic Games, I know it's an extremely heavy burden that the organisers carry, but I'm sure they'll do it in typical British style, without a lot of noise, understated elegance but done with style."

 

Singaporeans’ attention will no doubt be focused on their native sportspeople with the best chance of winning a place at the winners’ podium. After winning a silver medal for Singapore at the 2008 Olympics, the women’s table tennis team are favourites to win medals, as is Tao Li, who will be competing in the 100m butterfly final.