The event was attended by LOCOG Chair Seb Coe, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, OMEGA ambassador and world champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis and President of OMEGA Stephen Urquhart, and the clock will now be counting down to the evening of the 27 July 2012 in days, hours, minutes and seconds.
The Clock was revealed by four Olympic gold medallists from Team GB – rowers Pete Reed and Andy Hodge and sailors Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson.
The launch of the Countdown Clock is a key moment in the build-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is a reminder for people from across the UK, as well as visitors to the capital, that London will soon be hosting the greatest show on earth.
The design of the Clock reflects the look of the Games. The beams of light on the Clock are inspired by London and its connection with the Meridian line in Greenwich, the home of time. Trafalgar Square was chosen as the setting for the Clock as it is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks and iconic locations, visited by millions of Londoners and tourists each year. It was the centre of celebrations when London won the bid and will once again play a key part in the build-up to the London 2012 Games.
The Countdown Clock is made from steel from a Preston-based company. It is 6.5 metres high, 5m long and weighs around 4 tonnes. The Clock took 10 people two days to assemble in the Square. The lighting designs on the Clock were created by a British company.
LOCOG Chair Seb Coe said: 'The launch of the OMEGA Countdown Clock is an important milestone for any Olympic Games and is something of a tradition within the Olympic Movement. It will be a daily and hourly reminder to everyone who visits Trafalgar Square that the countdown to the start of London 2012 has well and truly begun and that the greatest show on earth is soon coming to our country.
'Athletes' careers are based on timing and I hope that this milestone moment excites and inspires them to compete at the highest level in 2012. Athletes hoping to compete in the Olympic Games are in the final stretch of their preparation and the next 500 days will be crucial to them as their dream of competing in a Games comes closer to reality.'
OMEGA's Stephen Urquhart said that his company is looking forward to timing the Olympic Games in London again, having done so 64 years ago. He said: 'In 1948, the last time the Olympic Games were held in this city, OMEGA was responsible for timing each discipline in every sport. That edition of the Games is remembered for the technological milestones in timekeeping: the photoelectric cell, our fully-automated timing system and the first photofinish camera ever used at an Olympic Games. Then, as now, we were proud to be at the service of the International Olympic Committee and the world's great athletes.'
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'The countdown begins right now in the very heart of the capital as we gear up to stage the best Games in living memory and the excitement spreads outwards from Trafalgar Square to every corner of our great city. In 500 days time the atmosphere will be electric as the Olympic Cauldron bursts into flames signalling the beginning of the world's greatest sporting event and London 2012's glorious legacy unfolds.'
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Notes to editors:
As it heads towards its £2bn budget for staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games, LOCOG has seven domestic Tier One Partners - adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB. There are seven domestic Tier Two Supporters – Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS. There are now twenty domestic Tier Three Suppliers and Providers – Aggreko, Airwave, Atkins, Boston Consulting Group, CBS Outdoor, Crystal CG, Eurostar, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, GSK, Gymnova, Heineken UK, Holiday Inn, John Lewis, McCann Worldgroup, Mondo, Next, The Nielsen Company, Populous, Technogym, Ticketmaster and Trident.
There is one domestic Tier One Paralympic Games Partner, Sainsbury’s and one Tier Three Paralympic Games Supplier, Otto Bock.
The Worldwide Olympic Partners signed up for London 2012 are Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos Origin, Dow Chemical Company, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.