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2012 Olympics: Sweating the small stuff

Putting together the London Olympics was predictably complex. But the British lawmaker who helped the city score the games says it’s the smaller, more unpredictable details that are really a pain.

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The parklands area south of the Olympic Stadium in London.

The parklands area south of the Olympic Stadium in London.


The task of staging the 2012 Summer Olympic Games was enormously complex. Just think of the financing secured and budgets passed, the ticketing systems designed and implemented, the security teams procured, the outfits designed (and critiqued). It’s hard work, this Olympics business.
But those elements are the predictable part. Really it’s all the other, smaller more unpredictable details that can really be a bitch. You know, like relocating all those newts from London’s many waterways.


The organizers of London’s Olympic bid wanted to form an intensive partnership with the East London communities surrounding the Olympic area. This meant being responsive to the myriad – and sometimes mind-blowingly small – details that were often of great concern to their neighbors. Like the health and well-being of the city’s native amphibians.

Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell, a British Member of Parliament who helped shore up London’s Olympic bid, came to Chicago in 2007 to advise our own Olympic committee on how best to win its bid. We all know that didn’t go so well. But Jowell’s advice seemed pretty sound. For starters, she said, listen to your community. No detail is too small to take seriously. You can hear how she and her team handled newts, pregnant cats and pumpkins in the audio above.

Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell, MP spoke at an event presented by the Metropolitan Planning Council in November of 2007.

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