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On time and on budget - but no room for 2012 complacency, says Coe

From Don Riddell, CNN
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Seb Coe: What 2012 means to London
  • London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe speaks to CNN with a year to go until the Games
  • Coe says there is no room for complacency despite London being on time and on budget
  • International Olympic Committee says London is best prepared of all Olympic hosts
  • Coe answers questions on transport, ticketing and security concerns

(CNN) -- If there is a distinct sense of calm surrounding Sebastian Coe, the man entrusted to deliver London's 2012 Olympic vision, then there is a very good reason.

With exactly one year to go until the Summer Games engulf the English capital and transfix sports fans across the globe, London's 2012 chairman could be prone to the occasional nightmare or bout of nervous sweating.

But Coe's relaxed demeanor has much to do with a glowing endorsement from the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who this week declared that with 12 months to go, London is the best prepared of any previous host.

Despite Jacques Rogge stating he had "not the slightest concern" about London's preparations, Coe paid tribute to help he has received from the IOC and insists there is still much work to be done as the Games draws ever nearer.

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"I wouldn't want anyone to run away with the idea that we're ready to stage a single event at an Olympic level next year. We're now into the testing and that's crucial," the two-time Olympic gold medallist told CNN's Don Riddell.

"I guess I lean quite heavily on previous mindsets that on the basis that no athlete ever wanted to go into an Olympic final and be confronted with something they'd not confronted a hundred times before on the training track.

"I don't want any athlete to come to London or any team being confronted with anything that they haven't dealt with during testing. So the testing process over the next, particularly six months, is really, really important.

"It's pretty much where we are. Having said that, it's great that we are where we are, but that is said without any complacency, because I also know that the next year will be a tough year."

One of the major planks of Coe's Olympic vision is to ensure the 2012 Games has the most rigorous anti-doping system ever.

The specter of drug cheats is one that has blighted big sporting events in the past, and it is an issue that Coe has been campaigning on for 20 years.

"I was the first athlete to address an Olympic Congress back in 1981, and I think in the four minutes that was given to me to put the athletes' case, a good two and three-quarter minutes was spent talking about the real risks and the danger of losing sport to performance-enhancing drugs," the 54-year-old said.

"I feel as strongly about that today as I did then. I think this is a much better environment. Testing systems have become much more comprehensive and my message to any athlete coming to London is think very carefully about taking drugs, because we have the technology to get you."

It's great we are where we are, but that is said without any complacency, because I also know that the next year will be a tough year
--Sebastian Coe

The only clouds on the Olympic horizon have come in the form of transport and ticketing.

Concerns over how London's creaking transport infrastructure will cope with the added pressure of hosting the Games have been coupled with the anger felt by those who missed out on tickets altogether.

Coe admits the transport issue presents a "challenge" for the city and that people will have to "make adjustments" in their travel arrangements, but he defended the application process for tickets and said unprecedented demand meant some people were bound to miss out.

He said: "I think we came up with the fairest scheme we possibly could, given the two million people who applied for nearly 23 million tickets and we have six million to distribute. I don't think first come, first served would have worked -- I know the technology wouldn't have stood.

"No Games with a year to go, with two ticket applications out of the way, has effectively been able to say we've sold out in 23 of 25 sports. I think that's an extraordinary story."

In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Norway, Coe acknowledged that security is also a huge challenge facing his organizing team.

But he insisted London can cope with the demands, and claimed the recent resignation of two of the most senior officers in the city's Metropolitan Police force would have no bearing on the games.

"We've got the right teams in place, we've got a fully-integrated, costed security plan," he said. "And, I will say it, I'm a Londoner and ... certainly the Met is one of the finest police forces in the world.

"Of course the challenge is providing a city that is safe and secure to stage a Games, and also recognizing you've probably got a million visitors there that also want to feel warm and embraced.

"You don't want them being pushed from pillar to post, because your security is so overtly heavy. As a police force we're used to delivering big global events in a friendly and discreet way."

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