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Going for gold

Deloitte UK: powering the winds beneath London’s Olympic wings


What a summer this has been. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games exceeded even the highest expectations and the outstanding performances of athletes from all over the world entertained and indeed, “inspired a generation.”

Supporting the sporting excellence was a program of such complexity that the numbers are enough to make the eyes boggle: 70,000 volunteers, 1.8 million pieces of sports equipment, 14 million meals, 10.8 million tickets, 4,700 medals – all taking place under the watchful eyes of 6,000 accredited media, in and around Olympic venues, with thousands more elsewhere in London.

London was a special place to be this summer, smiling faces filled the streets and strangers spoke to one another on the Tube. Even the weather held out, mostly. It was particularly special to know that Deloitte member firms, particularly the UK, had played such a key role in making this happen. As the official professional services provider to the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), over 800 partners and employees of the UK firm provided their expertise to support the delivery of the Games, including more than 130 on secondment to the organizers. In total, Deloitte UK has provided more than 750,000 hours of support towards the organization of London 2012.

More than a sponsor

It is a relationship that goes back almost a decade. Not long after the Government announced its intention to back a London bid in May 2003, one of our partners, Neil Wood, was seconded to the bid committee as Finance Director. When London was selected to host the Games, Deloitte committed a senior Partner team to support every aspect of the delivery plan, both on the physical development of the Park and its legacy uses and directly to LOCOG. In 2007, we were proud to be chosen as the first ever, official professional services provider to an Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

One of our earliest advisory projects was to support the organizational design of LOCOG. Back in 2005, LOCOG consisted of a handful of people, headed by Sebastian Coe. To deliver the biggest sporting event on the planet, it soared to 200,000 people, including volunteers and contractors. This figure dropped by around one third after the Olympic Games and then again, quickly, after the Paralympic Games. It has been a hugely accelerated life-cycle, like a pop-up FTSE 100 company that had to be built and then dismantled in eight years.

We helped design a structure that allowed LOCOG to transform continuously over its lifetime – from a small team bidding to win the Games, to a larger organization in planning mode, an operational organization delivering test events and then with the exclusive focus of putting on great Games, before finally closing down through an orderly wind-up. Deloitte UK’s head of strategy, Sabri Challah, described the task as “a bit like designing a car that could travel on flat roads, rough mountainous terrain and water, all on the same journey.”

One of our most visible projects was the construction program management of three temporary venues, including the Beach Volleyball venue at Horse Guards Parade and the Equestrian site at Greenwich Park. Transforming the historic heart of London into showpiece arenas for Olympic and Paralympic sport is no easy feat. In the case of Horse Guards, it was made even more difficult because access to the site had to be held back to avoid disruption to Her Majesty’s Jubilee celebrations. 

The team had just 36 days to build a 15,000 seat arena at Horse Guards Parade. Ordinarily a venue of this size would take 15 months to construct. This allowed a six-week window in which to construct a main centre court, two warm-up courts and six training courts, along with spectator seating for 15,000, broadcast facilities, catering and toilets. It was a truly Olympian challenge in itself but one which our team was very capable of meeting.

It has been fascinating to see Deloitte’s services being delivered in some very quirky ways: like the procurement experts who found themselves working out how to acquire 55 horses of an equivalent high performance standard for the Modern Pentathlon, the consulting secondee who spent a day in a wind tunnel to weather-test the Olympic torch, or the logistics expert who was part of the team responsible for ensuring all of the Olympic medals were securely stored in the Tower of London before competition began.

Maybe our best ever return on investment

The UK firm also played a role across the Olympic family, working with the Olympic Delivery Authority, the London Legacy Development Corporation, the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association (BPA). Our member firms in the US, Canada, Austria and Finland were official supporters of their respective Olympic associations. Collectively, Olympic associations supported by Deloitte won 190 medals, including 76 gold – that is more than one in four of all the gold medals won at London 2012!

However, it is our work with the BPA which has been some of our most satisfying. Back in 2007, in partnership with the BPA, Deloitte created Parasport, a website that guides people with a disability to sporting opportunities. Visitors are asked to enter details about their impairment and are provided with a list of sports that might be suitable for them. The user can then choose a sport and find local clubs that have been quality-assured to ensure a high standard of accessibility and support for disabled people is on offer.

Over 37,500 people visited the site between August 29th and September 10th, the period of the Paralympic Games. This compares with 1,400 people during the same period last year, an increase of more than 2000%. A significant majority of visitors used the ‘Find a Club’ function suggesting that people have been inspired by the performances of ParalympicsGB and want to get more active. Almost 3000 sports clubs are now registered on the site and the integrity of that data is thanks to the countless hours volunteered by Deloitte people over the past five years.

At the same time as helping to create Parasport, Deloitte also signed up to a five-year partnership with SportsAid to support the disability program of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). Through the scheme, which provides financial support to athletes to help them stay in full-time education, Deloitte has awarded more than 500 bursaries to over 300 athletes.

Seventy-six current or former recipients of Deloitte funding competed at London 2012 and we are very proud that those athletes delivered a total of eight gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals between them. 

Finally, in 2010 we established a new corporate cycling challenge, Deloitte Ride Across Britain. The aim of the event was to raise GBP1m for the BPA by 2013. However, we are pleased to announce that this target has been smashed 12 months early. This is great news for the BPA since it will continue to be the lead benefiting charity from the event in 2013 and so will receive a further financial boost as planning begins in earnest for Sochi and Rio.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games played out in front of packed crowds, with ear-shattering support for every athlete, British or not, winner or loser. Over 2.3 million tickets were sold for the Paralympic Games, beating the previous record set in Beijing of 1.8 million. We are tremendously proud to have played a role in creating an infrastructure around disability sport which has boosted participation, increased funding and supported the best prepared team of athletes ParalympicsGB has ever sent to the Games. The UK firm looks forward to supporting the BPA through to Sochi and beyond.

London 2012 may now be over and Rio has the privilege to call itself the Olympic city. But our work is far from over; some of our people will be working on the dissolution of LOCOG through to next spring, the impact of our disability sport program will be felt at several Games to come and several of our member firms will continue to develop their relationships with National Olympic Committees. However, we can reflect on an extraordinary period in our firm’s history as the UK basks in the shared glow of having staged one of the most memorable Games ever.


by Heather Hancock, lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte UK and lead global partner for Deloitte’s Olympic relationships

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