As I watch the Olympic Games (along with every other third person on the planet), I have the privilege of feeling like something of an insider. Two weeks ago, I got a backstage visit at ExCeL London for look at the convention center-turned-Olympic Games venue before the athletes and 80,000 daily visitors descended on site. ExCeL is where seven Olympics sports, including boxing and fencing, and six Paralympic sports, including power lifting and table tennis, is being held. My tour guides were ExCeL London’s Andrew Swanston (that’s him speaking in the video, working on getting us access into the facility because of understandably tight security) and James Rees. And behind-the-scenes it was, even allowing for a peek at the weightlifting teams’ showers. Minus the weightlifters.
How the ExCeL facility has been repurposed for the Olympic Games — with temporary locker rooms, arenas, stages, and offices that will be disassembled at the end of the Games — is nothing short of a marvel. We’ll be following up with James after the Olympics to see what it’s like to hand over your convention center for three months to the Olympics and then return to business as usual. Although, burnished by Olympic flame, it won’t be business as usual for ExCeL or London as a whole. Stay tuned for our story in the October issue, and in the meantime, enjoy watching the greatest global get-together of them all.