UK mulls new concept for 2012 Olympic ceremonies

London, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2008, 07:21am hrs
The opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games should involve all of London, not just the main stadium in Stratford in the east of the capital, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said on Saturday.

Olympic Games are traditionally opened and closed at a single venue as happened earlier this month in Beijing, where China won plaudits for its extravagant ceremonies in the futuristic Birds Nest stadium. We dont want to try to emulate Beijing, Jowell told the Independent newspaper in an interview. What we want is new ways of thinking about the opening ceremony. We want the whole of London to be involved, with different parts of London taking part in the ceremony. The London Games must be deeply democratic, with the citys citizens feeling theyre intimately involved.

Jowell is also assessing a ticketing system similar to the one used by the organisers of the Wimbledon, where unused tickets are re-issued to minimise the number of empty seats. One criticism of the Beijing Olympics was that many competitions took place before empty stands, forcing organisers to draft in yellow-clad cheerleaders to improve the atmosphere and the television images beamed around the world. Most of the seats were unoccupied because sponsors and other Olympic partners had not used tickets allocated to them. I want to minimise the number of empty seats in stadiums, which frustrate the public and keep them at a distance for no reason, Jowell said.

You cant stop sponsors buying seats ... but we must maximise the publics chances of seeing the games first-hand. I saw lots and lots of Chinese people standing outside stadiums ... We must reverse that trend and make sure our Olympics are more accessible.

Reuters