The president of the International Olympic Committee visited London's flagship venue on Monday for the 2012 Olympic Games, offering praise for the stadium and dismissing concerns about budget cuts.
Five years ago this week, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, announced that London would host the 2012 Olympic Games.
IOC President Jacques Rogge and the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sebastian Coe, toured London's Olympic Stadium, which is still under construction.
The two men underscored the concepts of "work" and "progress" when they helped bolt into place seat number 2012 at the stadium that will showcase the Games' opening and closing ceremonies.
IOC President Jacques Rogge:
"Well, I am very pleased to see the tremendous progress of the works," said Jacques Rogge. "I mean, the stadium is almost finished. It is state of the art. It is at the same time a beautiful and intimate stadium, so I am very happy."
The new stadium that Rogge calls "intimate" will seat 80,000 spectators. The stadium site spans 16 hectares, and the external structure is complete.
Organizer Sebastian Coe said work is on schedule and that Britons are confident in London's ability to host the games. But the two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion added that with fewer than 800 days left until the Summer Games, the work is far from over.
"We know that the next two years will be, you know, 24 hours a day, hard work," said Sebastian Coe.
The Olympic Delivery Authority, or ODA - a publicly funded body - oversees the development and construction of London's Olympic Stadium and other venues. IOC President Rogge acknowledged that the British government has requested that the ODA trim its budget by about $40 million, but he dismissed concerns about that cut.
"The ODA management is adamant that they can do that without altering the core quality of the games and the athletes' welfare, and that is what is most important for us," he said.
The budget for the 2012 Olympics is about $14 billion. That includes the cost of building venues and infrastructure as well as redeveloping the area in east London that will be the site of the Olympic Park.
The games are scheduled to open on July 27, 2012.