Olympic Park gets $468 million post-Games makeover

Updated 27 November 2012
0

Olympic Park gets $468 million post-Games makeover

LONDON: London’s Olympic Park has taken on the air of a construction site again, with work under way on a 292 million pound ($468 million) transformation before Britons can use facilities like the swimming pool and cycle trails.
Builders in hard hats were on Tuesday dismantling temporary seats towering above the pool where American Michael Phelps won a record 18th Olympic gold in August.
However, the failure to settle on a tenant for the centerpiece Olympic Stadium, built at a cost of some 430 million pounds, has taken some of the gloss of a successful Games that silenced the skeptics.
Premier League club West Ham United remain the most likely tenant but wrangling over the division of the costs of turning the stadium into one also suited for top-flight soccer has slowed the process.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the public body responsible for the site, is scheduled to discuss the stadium issue again next week and there are hopes that a decision will be announced before the end of the year.
However, the LLDC has warned the stadium will not open before 2015, prompting a frustrated UK Athletics Chairman Ed Warner to denounce the delay as a farce.
The Olympic Stadium will hold the 2017 World athletics Championships and is on the list of potential venues to host matches during the 2015 rugby World Cup but that deadline is beginning to look tight.
The Games cost the British public around 9 billion pounds and spending during the Olympics helped to give a one-off boost to Britain’s struggling economy.
London has restarted free bus tours around the Olympic Park, keen to maintain the goodwill generated by the Games and show that it will have a viable future as part of plans to regenerate what was long a rundown part of east London.
Workers on the site on a bleak November day were focused on getting it ready to reopen to the public next July — a year on from the Games — with a new name of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“We want the park to open as quickly and as safely as possible,” Colin Naish, director of infrastructure at the LLDC told reporters, adding the target was for a phased reopening to be completed by the middle of 2014.
Contractors Balfour Beatty and BAM Nuttall are expected to employ up 1,000 workers on the conversion.


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
0

Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.