London 2012 needs £2bn of private money to stage the games. LOCOG, the organisation charged with this responsibility, is a private company chaired by Lord Coe. The government owns the shares, but LOCOG is a separate organisation from the Olympic Delivery Authority, who are using public money to build the facilities that will be used for the games and beyond. Much of this money will come from corporate sponsorship partners. I have been spending some time with sponsors in Beijing to understand their potential contribution to a sustainable London 2012.
I visited Coca-Cola and GE Eco-Imagination pavilions, and had a tour of McDonald’s outlets at the various venues. The pavilions are huge, two-storey buildings the size of several football pitches, housing exhibition areas open to the public, as well as VIP areas for corporate guests.
The Chinese people are keen to soak up the whole experience and there are long queues outside many of the buildings. The Coke experience is particularly inspiring for the local people, as it celebrates the stunning recent achievements of China and honours its past by showcasing each province of China individually. Whilst there is a strong environmental section in the Coke pavilion, the GE Eco-Imagination site is entirely dedicated to sustainability efforts of its various businesses, their technology and financial products.
Each of the sponsors I spoke to were very excited about the prospect of contributing to a sustainable London 2012. The “Green Pound” is very valuable, and the extraordinary performance of the LOCOG commercial team in securing sponsorship in these financially troubled times is, in part, to do with the attraction of being associated with the most sustainable games ever.
If we can combine the intellectual horsepower and financial muscle of these powerful partners, I am sure we can do something amazing. I look forward to seeing the plans unfold once the torch is handed to London and we become the host city.
There is a lot of discussion going on about the use of the pavilions after the games. The Beijing authorities want them to be demolished, but many of the sponsors plan to move them to the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. It would be great if we could design sponsor facilities for London with legacy in mind, maybe for use by charities or other community organisations. This is one other small way we can set new standards of sustainability for our Games.
This post also appears at www.bbc.co.uk/london