Millennium Stadium to kick-off Olympics in spectacular fashion

July 25, 2011 2 Comments »
Millennium Stadium to kick-off Olympics in spectacular fashion

Millennium Stadium chiefs have vowed to  host an Olympics extravaganza when  the  greatest sporting spectacle in the world rolls into  Wales in exactly a year.

While Wednesday will mark a year to go of the  official Olympic opening ceremony in London,  Wales will host the first sporting event of the  Games two days earlier with a double-header of  women’s football preliminary matches.

Along with Wembley, Old Trafford,  Hampden  Park, St James’ Park  and the City of Coventry  Stadium, the Millennium Stadium will host 11  games, with six women’s  matches and five men’s  games  culminating with the bronze  medal  match on August 10.

“In a year’s time at 4pm the  Millennium  Stadium will be the Welsh venue that will start  off the 2012 Olympics, the biggest sporting show  on  earth,” said Millennium Stadium manager  Gerry Toms.

“It will be two days before the  official opening  ceremony, but  Cardiff will host the first event   and that is tremendously exciting.

“It is a huge honour for Cardiff,  Wales and the  Millennium  Stadium.“The Olympics is different  from other sports  and will  provide a unique experience.

“It is a great privilege for the  Millennium  Stadium to be part  of the Olympics because,  outside London, for sports stadia those opportunities are few and far between.

“It will add to the  events we have delivered  here  in Cardiff and is a superb trophy in our  honours cabinet and an amazing addition to our  impressive CV.

“It will be challenging because,  although a  year sounds a long  time, it is not.

“We have a busy programme  running up to the  Games, but  the Olympic planning for Cardiff is  already well advanced.

“We have to make sure the  Millennium Stadium is looking immaculate for all the  games so  it is going to be a  pretty intense period.”

Toms admitted Cardiff is unlikely to attract  capacity crowds with 1.5m tickets remaining  unsold across the six football venues, but urged  fans to enjoy a unique experience.

“It is a great opportunity for the  people of  Cardiff to view the  Olympic Games and this is a  once-in-a-lifetime experience,” added Toms.

“But, while there is a bit of a feast of  football  over the 11 days, it is unrealistic for us to say the  stadium will be full for  every game.

“What is encouraging is the  availability and  accessibility  and the price bands are very   good.

“This is once-in-a-generation chance to say I  went to an Olympic event in Wales.“That won’t come around  again in a generation and I still think people will seize that   chance.

“It is a bit surreal at the moment because  people don’t  know who is playing at what  venue.

“That won’t be known until  April and some  people might  wait a little longer.

“There will be people who will  be there from  the beginning on the first day.But a lot of people will buy  tickets in advance  anyway.

“The ticketing system also allows  you to watch  both matches on a double-header which is a  bonus.

“The standard of women’s  football in the  World Cup was  quite exceptional and we will   see that in Cardiff.“We also have two quarter-finals and the men’s  bronze medal match and that is a great honour.”

The quest to attract the crowds could depend  on whether Team GB will play in Cardiff and  who will be in the first Olympics side from these  shores since 1972.

It is still unclear whether Welsh stars like  Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Adam Matthew will play in the under-23 tournament with  three over-age players.

The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland  governing bodies remain opposed to the idea of  Team GB, fearing it will affect their future  footballing  independence.

But they do not have any power to stop players  turning out so Bale, Ramsey and Matthews, who  have all publicly stated their desire to play in the  Olympics, must now decide whether to ignore  the pleas of their own Football Associations.

“We would hope Team GB  play in Cardiff  when the fixtures are announced,” added  Toms.

“We still don’t know whether  there will be  Welsh players  involved, but we know there is  the  possibility because people  can put themselves  forward for  the Olympics.

“I personally think it will happen because it is  a great opportunity for Welsh athletes to  compete at the highest level.

“That would be an interesting  boost if that was  to happen and  we will have to wait and see.

“I understand the political  sensitivities with  the relationship between the different  football  bodies.

“That is not a matter for us, but  what is  encouraging is,  whatever happens, there is an  opportunity for Welsh players.

“That is important for these athletes to choose  and it is for  them personally to decide  whether  they want to engage in Team GB.

“We do have players of quality  who by right  could claim to be  good enough to be involved in   the team who have been  born and brought up in  Cardiff.

“But that will be a personal  choice for  them.”

Toms also insisted the much-maligned Millennium Stadium playing surface would stand  up to the test with three double-headers in the  11 matches.

“We would expect to produce a  pristine pitch  for the  Olympics,” he predicted.

“It will be a challenge to maintain it, but we  know from experience the wear and tear from   football is far less than rugby.

“The ground staff will have to  work hard, but  they will look to  have a pristine pitch for every   game.

“Back-to-back games will be a  challenge, but  we have had four  rugby league matches played   in a day here before.

“The Olympic pitch will be in  place before the  end of the  year.

“There aren’t concerns about  bringing the  pitch in late this time because it will be the same  as the Six Nations.

“Traditionally we take the  pitch out after the  final rugby  match in May or June, but we will  keep it next year.“Any other summer events, like the speedway,  will be later next year.

“So the conditions and timing  will be going  with us because it  is being played in the summer   where we should have some  good weather.”

And Toms is also aware of the security issues  surrounding hosting an Olympics sporting event  in Cardiff.“Because of the profile of the  Olympics there  is a high security risk,” added Toms, a former  Chief Superintendent of  the South Wales Police.

“We have managed major  events in Cardiff  before, but the  Olympics is somewhat different.

“The standards the Olympic  committee will  set us to meet  are extremely high.“It is the biggest sporting event  in the world  and billed as the greatest show on earth.

“And history tells you there are risks involved.“We need to make sure we  have the highest  security  standards to negate those  risks.”

For tickets to see Olympic football log on via  the official website  www.tickets.london2012.com

Wednesday, July 25: Women’s preliminaries two matches 4pm

Thursday July 26: Men’s preliminaries 7.45pm

Saturday, July 28:  Women’s preliminaries two games 2.30pm

Tuesday July 31:  Women’s preliminary 2.30pm

Wednesday, August 1: Men’s preliminaries two matches 5pm

Friday, August 3: Women’s quarter-final 5pm-7pm

Saturday, August 4: Men’s quarter-finals 7.30pm

Friday, August 10: Men’s bronze medal match 7.45pm

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hendre July 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    The debased men's competition is nothing more than a dirty little stitch-up between FIFA and the IOC to protect their own interests.

    The GB football team is nothing more than a dirty little stitch-up between the BOA and the FA to protect their own interests.

    I hope whoever plays for the GB the teams suffer humiliating defeat – especially the women.

  2. Immigrant July 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Hendre how very patriotic… I hope team GB win every medal going myself seeing as I live here.

    Just try and think global for once. We all live in the UK what’s wrong with uniting for a few games every 4 years?

    We do it in Rugby and it’s great, the only people I know against this are frankly bigoted towards other parts of the UK. Get some perspective!

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