London, UK - The last piece of turf was laid Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium, symbolizing the completion of building work on the 80,000-seat flagship venue for the 2012 London Games. Former Olympic sprinter Frank Fredericks used a shovel to lay down the symbolic last piece of grass on the infield, 16 months before next year's games. London organizers and International Olympic Committee officials visited the stadium to mark the milestone.
Fredericks was among the members of the IOC co-ordination commission taking part in the ceremony at the Olympic Park in east London. The IOC panel is making its eighth visit to London to check on preparations for the games. Construction on the 486-million-pound ($777 million) stadium began in May 2008. "The Olympic Stadium has been finished on time and under budget," Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt said.
A total of 360 rolls of turf were needed to cover the 9,000-square-metre infield. The surface of the running track will be laid later this year. "We wouldn't want anyone to run away with the idea that this stadium is ready to stage an Olympic track and field championship tomorrow," organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe said. "With one year and a few months to go, this is a great place to be."
The stadium will host the Olympic track and field competition and the opening and closing ceremonies in 2012.
After the Games, the stadium will be converted to a 60,000-seat venue that will serve as home to West Ham football club. The arena will also host athletics competitions, concerts and community events.