London 2012: With 100 Days to Opening Ceremony, Olympics Hosts Look to Build Buzz

Organizers unveil details about outdoor viewing locations and a slogan as the British capital awaits an onslaught of media and ticket holders.

LONDON - With 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympics, directed by Oscar winning filmmaker Danny Boyle, organizers on Wednesday unveiled its slogan for the games, details of outdoor viewing sites and other initiatives to boost interest in the event. 

Gold medal winning middle-distance runner Sebastian Coe, chair of the Olympics organizing committee, trumpeted the slogan "Inspire a Generation," aiming to push the message that this year's games would be as much for future athletes as for today's competitors.

Organizers also planted a giant display of the Olympic Rings at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, West London, which will be visible from Heathrow Airport flight path, one of the busiest air hubs in the world. The rings, made up of 20,000 plants, are another way to put the host city and its visitors into the Olympic spirit.

But organizers were quick to ensure the Olympics are not only about the British capital. Plans for 22 live viewing sites across the U.K. employing big-screen coverage were also set up.

The Red Arrows display team, an aerobatic jet crew normally reserved for Royal occasions and air display shows, are scheduled to fly across the U.K. as part of the opening ceremony, the organizers of the games also disclosed.

The Red Arrows recently came under fire for not taking to the air as part of last year's celebrations for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Reports said that it would have been too expensive to interrupt the Red Arrows' pre-summer training in Cyprus and bring them back to the Britain for the nuptials.

The British government recently said it would pump an extra £41 million ($64.3 million) from the £9.3 billion ($14.6 billion) public sector funding package to double the budget for the Games ceremonies, justifying the move by saying it was a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to promote the U.K.

Meanwhile, the Guardian on Wednesday reported that there are about 2.5 million tickets for sports events left as the city gears up for the arrival of athletes, TV crews and visitors from around the world. The paper said organizers expect 10,500 athletes, 21,000 media folks and 8.8 million ticket holders.

Media coverage for these Olympics is expected to include several firsts, including extensive live 3D coverage and a record number of live offerings for TV and online viewers around the globe.

It said that about 1.5 million soccer tickets remain and another 1 million or so across other Olympic events. Due to an error that had promised more tickets than were actually available, synchronized swimming is the only sport that has been completely sold out. The next phase of ticket sales for the games will begin in early May.

The London Olympics run July 27-August 12.


Twitter: @georgszalai