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Coe hints on stadium wrap reinstatement

A last-minute offer could see a multi-million pound plastic wrap around the Olympic stadium reinstated, Sebastien Coe said today.

The stadium wrap, a 900-metre long curtain surrounding the 80,000-seat Populous-designed venue, was scrapped during last month’s Government spending review by the Olympic Delivery Authority to save £7 million. Savings of £20 million had been called for.

Lord Coe hinted: ‘Since the decision was made we have had a number of commercial overtures to fund the wrap - so watch this space.’

The AJ has also learned of cheaper, alternative proposals being drawn up internally at LOCOG, the London 2012 organisers.

Games-backers had originally predicted the wrap, complete with graphic colours, mosaics and Olympic-related images, could be one of the iconic global images of the Games.

Stadium architect Rod Sheard, senior principal at Populous, had cautioned against removing the wrap which he hailed as an ‘integral part’ of the stadium. Talks had even begun with a firm which could turn the fabric into bags which could be sold after the Games, organisers said at the original stadium launch.

Denis Oswald, chair of the IOC inspectors who are carrying out checks on London 2012’s preparations, said: ‘We fully understand that the financial and economic circumstances have changed since 2005 (when London won the right to host the Games).

‘We have made efforts to help LOCOG and the Government in a way to make savings, such as accepting to use existing facilities for badminton and rhythmic gymnastics rather than building facilities.

‘What is very important for us is that it does not diminish the quality of the Games. The wrap around the stadium is a nice thing to have. It helps the look of the Games but it does not effect the athletes’ performance and therefore it is something we felt we could accept.’

Previous story (AJ 03.11.10)

Axing Populous’ Olympic Stadium wrap was ‘sensible’ says Coe

Sebastian Coe has defended his decision to axe the Olympic Stadium’s £7 million ‘decorative’ wrap in response to savage criticism from the structure’s designer

Rod Sheard, senior principle at the practice, hit out at the decision to axe the feature, claiming athletes’ performance could be affected by the resulting increase in wind movement through the structure.

The 900 metre-long wrap was sacrificed as part of the Olympics games’ £20 million programme of efficiency savings.

However London 2012 supremo and former Olympic hero Coe said that move was sensible and would be harmless to contenders. He said: ‘I am very clear the stadium fundamentally has to work for the athletic performance - that was the first thing that I wanted to satisfy myself that we were not infringing upon.

‘Given the global scheme of things, I do not think that is an unreasonable thing to do.’

The wrap was to be decorated with an Olympic-themed mural, providing an eye-catching curtain whilst also minimising crosswinds.

Sheard previously told the Evening Standard: ‘The entire design team believes the wrap is an integral part of the building, it has always been part of the enclosure strategy and is critical to achieving the visual mystery of the original design, creating a drama that the main venue for this spectacular sporting event deserves.

‘The wrap is used to manage the wind movement through the otherwise open structure, largely to the spectators’ benefit, and whilst the absence of the wrap will not prevent world records being achieved in the stadium, it would not be true to say that it has no effect on the playing conditions within the bowl.

‘The concept behind the stadium was to build an elegant building that was lightweight and minimal in its use of materials, but at the same time provide a screen to so much of the event functionality that creates visual clutter. However, an important part of the wrap concept was to also provide a ‘screen’ on to which lighting and other visual effects can be projected that will achieve the dynamic, constantly changing focus for the London Olympics.

‘It’s great that people feel the work that has been completed to date on site is sufficiently elegant to not need further enclosure but perhaps what people don’t realise is the considerable quantity of very functional conduits, cables, trunking and general services that will be added to this highly visible space closer to the Games and which will all be exposed if the wrap isn’t built.’

Previous story (21.10.10)

Populous’ Olympic stadium wrap binned

Plans for a huge fabric wrap on the Populous-designed London 2012 Olympic Stadium have been scrapped following government budget cuts

The colourful wrap was supposed to spruce up the 80,000-seat stadium’s appearance but Olympic chiefs have decided to save money and leave the structure bare.

The 900 metre-long wrap was sacrificed as part of the Olympics games’ £20 million programme of efficiency savings announced yesterday as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.  

DCMS claims the £9.3 billion Olympics budget however remains ‘intact’. Culture minister Jeremy Hunt explained: ‘To deal with an unprecedented financial deficit we have been forced to make some incredibly difficult decisions. 

‘We will deliver a safe and successful Olympics in 2012 when the eyes of the whole world will be upon us. By cutting bureaucracy and waste and prioritising the services valued by the public we will be able to protect our sporting and cultural core for the long term.’ 

An ODA spokesperson said: ‘Since the start of the project we have delivered over £700 million of savings through efficient working to keep the budget on track.

‘Although the project is now approaching 75 per cent complete and much of remaining work is under contract we have managed to find these additional savings and will continue to drive down costs wherever possible.’

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