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Deighton’s delight as Olympic future looks bright

OLYMPIC SPIRIT: LOCOG chiefs Deighton (left) and Lord Coe (right) are joined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

AS TENS of thousands of athletes are training in preparation for next year’s Olympics, behind the scenes key officials are ensuring that everything promised prior to winning the Olympic bid will be delivered come July 27, 2012.

As chief executive officer of the London Organising Committee of the Games (LOCOG), Paul Deighton is just one of a number of figureheads whose job it is to deliver a successful and memorable thirtieth Olympiad to Britain.

One of the tasks given to the former Goldman Sachs partner was to raise £2 billion to pay the costs of staging the Games and despite suffering the effects of the credit crunch, Deighton told The Voice that he and his team have almost reached their goal.

“We’ve already raised just over £2 billion which is virtually all the money we needed so that’s gone incredibly well,” said Deighton.

“We’re just about at the end of our sponsorship programme where we’ve raised about £700 million which is the top end of our target and the target was set when the world looked like an easier place financially.

“We’ve still got some more tickets to sell that we haven’t released yet, we launch Paralympic ticket sales on September 9 and then we still have a lot of merchandise to sell because we get a royalty from the merchandise that we sell that’s associated with the Games.

“Those are the last two bits of revenue we need to raise but it looks pretty good at the moment.”

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The Olympic Park is almost complete

One of the main criticisms that LOCOG has received from both the public and the media was the way the tickets were allocated but Deighton defended the ballot procedure.

“I’d like to make everybody happy all the time but that’s not realistic so what we’ve tried to do is to distribute the tickets as fairly as we can,” he said.

“One of the reasons we’ve seen such enormous demand is that we stuck by the promise we made of making tickets affordable.

“A third of the tickets were £20 or less. For the opening ceremony for example we had over two million applications for tickets. The venues are only so big and we can only fit so many people in it.”

One of the main reasons why London was selected as host nation in 2005 was due to its diverse culture.
According to Deighton, LOCOG’s desire is to spread diversity in three main areas; within the actual staff employed by LOCOG, the commercial sector and the thousands of Games Makers who will be volunteering their services next summer.

As well as the those areas Deighton chairs the LOCOG diversity and inclusion board whose members include television presenter and businesswoman Floella Benjamin, ex-basketballer John Amaechi and former Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.

LOCOG’s website states that the board’s job is to ‘ensure diversity and inclusion are a key differentiator’ at the Games. And Deighton, 55, insists that diversity is still a top priority now as it was six years ago.

“It (diversity) has been a really important part of everything we’ve done since winning the Games,” he explained.

“We work very hard making sure there’s a mix whether it’s gender based, looking at ethnicity, disability - we’ve worked really hard.”

“The East End in particular is really diverse and young and clearly the investment that’s been made – transforming that part of London where we’re building the Olympic Park – is a big investment in the most diverse part of the community.”

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