Lord Sebastian Coe & IOC President Jacques Rogge

By  AIPS President Gianni Merlo, writing for the Italian daily: La Gazzetta dello Sport.

LONDON, July 22, 2012 – Sebastian Coe is facing the last 50 meters of the most important race in his life. The Olympics on his home turf. He is experiencing internal tension that burns the soul in the final of a competition, when lactic acid begins to poison the muscles and every breath burns the throat. Seb is pale and drawn, but in this age of politics and administration of sport, he seems to have learned to relax the nerves when the  unexpected turns up. And the unexpected is normal on an eve of the Olympics.

 When an athlete, his nightmare was Steve Ovett, the other great miler in history. Now the nightmare that disturbs his sleep is the announcement of a strike by UK border staff on July 26, the eve of the Games. Railways, too, could experience a few days of heavy turbulence. Everything has been triggered by the scandal that erupted when a company, which was to undertake the preparation of the 12,000 security personnel, was not able to  maintain its commitment to provide a full contingent  and the fact that the contract provided for an outlay of 500 million euros has infuriated those workers who are asked only sacrifices.

– Lord Coe, you find yourself in the midst of an announced storm or an unexpected one and therefore one that is more difficult to manage?

“First of all I hope that a solution be found. I must add that these crises have, are and will be part of any Olympic organization. The rest is all under control and there is not much to do. We were able to retrieve even the most difficult and complicated. We just have to remain focused to the last detail. ”

– The security issue has been resolved? How did the situation eventuate that the government was compelled to call in the army?

“We faced an emergency because the numbers of those who were contracted to ensure the security changed but we soon found an excellent solution. The soldiers who are engaged in the different check-points are exceptional, top-level professionals. Our army is known as the best in the world and they are proving this once more. They immediately entered into the Olympic spirit. The security is guaranteed.”

-In this long journey to the Games costs have increased so much. What do you advise those who will organize the next Olympics to avoid ending up on their knees and live a miserable decade of post-Olympics?

“First of all I want to clarify that our cost has risen to more than 9 billion pounds (nearly 12 billion euros) because 70% of the money has been spent on reclamation of land and waterways in the area of ​​East London where we have created the Olympic Park. This is a great investment for the future.”

-But is this enough to justify an expense like that?

“Yes, on one condition: that which we have created, as I’m sure we have created the scene for a different and better future for those living and those who will live in that area. It ‘s a social legacy. This will mean we will see the fruits of what we have created in 7 years and which were the basis of the entire project.

If a city intends to have the honor and the burden of organizing the Games it must be clear about the concept, that these last two weeks of racing to which are added those of the Paralympics are just the opening phase of a new era, not the  Final Act. Who does not think of what must be left to future generations, must immediately abandon the project, because this would throw enormous resources from the window, a suicide.”

– The latest controversy involved the shortening, they say for safety reasons, the opening ceremony.

“Security has nothing to do with it. The director, Boyle, with whom I work closely and is brilliant decided to cut a small segment of the show because it was not essential. Nobody forced him to cut the show for fear of finishing too late.”

– Have these Games changed you?

“They have not changed me but made me richer in spirit. I have learned many things. I rediscovered the passion and generosity of our people. It ‘s been hard work, I assure you, but exciting because we are working for the younger generations. I hope that what we did will encourage our youth to populate the stadiums, gymnasiums, and swimming pools. That will be the mark by which we are judged and we can say we have done well. I hope then to be able to bring this experience into the world of athletics, where my roots are – a world that needs re-launching.”