The use of temporary structures to host events connected with the Olympic Games would have been looked upon with a scorn not long ago. But with London 2012 taking a path-breaking trend by putting into use such facilities in a large measure, there is a chance of future hosts following the niche footsteps of the British.
Already, the Brazilians are taking a close look at the models created by British companies in an attempt to make use of temporary facilities for the conduct of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro and so are the Russians who are to host the Winter Games in Sochi next year.
Russia and Qatar are also tipped to make use of temporary structures wherever possible as they prepare to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The shift owes a lot to the vast strides taken by engineering through the years and the new scriptures with regard to sports planning dictated, of course, with the need to stick within an agreed upon budget and ensuring proper usage of those facilities on a long-term basis.
Briefing a media delegation – on a visit to London arranged by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government recently – on the factors which went into the thinking on the creation of temporary facilities, Emma Boggis, Head of the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy unit, said: “We never wanted to be left behind with sporting structures which would be not be used on a scale that could justify its building costs in the first place and secondly, the millions of pounds which would cost the treasury year and year for its proper maintenance and upkeep.” This line of thinking was the result of some research which the British undertook right before placing the London bid to the International Olympic Committee.
“We found that most of the stadia projects undertaken by hosts of the previous Games were remaining idle for the better of any given year and still were incurring huge costs for its maintenance. We never wanted to commit the same mistake.”
And so as the British got into the business of planning the Games, they hardly had any problems in using such popular spots like the Hyde Park, the Horse Guards Parade, Lords cricket ground, all within Central London itself for the conduct of events like triathlon, beach volleyball and archery as part of the 2012 Games.
The structure for beach volleyball to seat 15,000 spectators took just six weeks to be completed and a further fortnight to be completely demolished once the Games were over.
Likewise, the other temporary structures which accommodated the conduct of events of basketball within the Olympic Park in east London and shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks are currently under the process of being taken down with the aim of relocating elsewhere in Britain itself or for the usage of future Games.
Jeff Burke of ES Global Ltd., involved in the construction of the shooting venue, said: “It would have cost 18 million pounds to construct the venue for the London Games, but now that design costs and material costs are out of the way, it would only cost 12 million pounds if the Brazilians want to use the same for the Rio de Janeiro Games. This would of course include the cost of a new elevation as the one used in London cannot be put to use in Rio for obvious reasons.”
The temporary facilities, of course, seem to be a viable option being cost-effective and bringing about enormous savings from the high maintenance costs incurred by permanent infrastructure.
And it need not cause any wonder if such facilities are used in larger numbers for multi-discipline events in the future as the novel methods used in the successful conduct of London 2012 are worthy enough to be emulated.