LONDON, England, July 25 – Slowcoach athletes in awe of the Olympics opening ceremony Friday will dilly and dally at their own peril after organisers revealed they have a secret device to keep the event on schedule.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive director for the Games Gilbert Felli wouldn’t say what the device was, as it is pertinent to the ceremony and is wrapped in secrecy.
However, he said that it would encourage athletes to keep up a regular pace and discourage them from stopping to take pictures and delaying proceedings.
There have been concerns that should the opening ceremony overrun, it would leave spectators stranded as there are no measures in place to extend the usual running hours of London Transport buses and underground trains.
“We have been working hard over the past few years to say who can participate at the opening ceremony,” said Felli.
“There will be some device to keep the parade going, so that those walking at a normal pace aren’t penalised. However, I cannot go into details as it is part of the ceremony and therefore I am not here to reveal the secret.”
Felli said that there was nothing keeping him awake at night as the opening ceremony neared on Friday.
“I would say that you have to sleep at night if you are to be confronted by an emergency,” he said.
“The eyes of the world are on you at the opening ceremony. Then the athletes start competing and you hope in the best circumstances possible.”
Felli also said there was no point drawing comparisons between the 2008 Games in Beijing, where there was a limitless budget, and the more modest fare expected in London with its tighter purse strings.
“You have two budgets — one for venues and this one has been done in a transparent manner by the government — and the second thing is the LOCOG budget and they are inside it,” said Felli.
“The venues are beautiful and there is no reason to think that money is everything.”
Felli used as an example of how the London Games were already having an impact on the 100-plus IOC members.
“I could see tears in the eyes of the IOC members here today (at their session) when they saw how the torch relay had touched people in Britain.”