THRILLED: Main man sees finishing line after eight-year wait
With just hours to go to tomorrow's opening ceremony, the double gold medallist-turned-supremo said in an interview he was experiencing a mixture of pride and expectation -- and a few sleepless nights.
"I am excited, I am a sports fan, I want to get into the sport. I want to see the world's best athletes competing in venues that I think are sensational and I want to see fantastic sport, that is what the world is waiting for," he said.
As the face of the Games, everyone wants a word with Coe -- but he would not have it any other way.
"It's a privilege to do the job," the 55-year-old said. "What else would I want to be doing?
"It's a Games that is being delivered in London and I am part of the team and 30 years ago I won an Olympics title. What else would I want to be doing in this city at this time?"
Coe could be forgiven for being frustrated that instead of concentrating on the feast of sport to come, much of the pre-Games media coverage has focused on problems with transport and security.
Just minutes before he spoke, the government announced it was drafting in another 1,200 soldiers to guard the Games after a private security contractor failed to provide the number of guards it had promised.
Far from dismissing such concerns, Coe said they had to be taken seriously.
"It is inevitable. Security and transport, they are not the whole story, they are part of the story. It has never in fairness been a security story, it has been about the mix of security teams that has been available to us.
"We now know that we are going to be using more of the military and more of the local police services than we originally thought.
"I don't think anybody is feeling nervous or worried. There are two supremely trained organisations that are going to help us deliver the Games."
He said transport was always going to be a problem in a congested city like London -- fresh concerns were raised on Monday when there were long delays on two train lines serving the Games site.
"It's a big city, we're going to have challenges, we've always said that, I don't think there is any point in being naive or coy about it." The key, Coe said, was that spectators allow sufficient time to reach Games venues.
"You don't just wander out of a restaurant and go into an Olympics venue quickly, there is a tier of security and complexity that you don't get in other sporting events.
"I think people have got that, there is no shortage of information but we have to go on punching that message right to the moment when the public really understand what the challenges are."
Coe brought an impeccable sporting pedigree and lobbying skills honed in the British parliament and the business world to the task of selling the vision of turning a heavily polluted wasteland in east London into the Olympic Park.
He recalled showing an International Olympic Committee evaluation team around the site in early 2005 "and trying to explain to them that where the rotting pile of fridges was where the stadium was going and behind it the Aquatics Centre.
"It's been a transformation," he said. "It's fantastic."
But tomorrow's opening ceremony -- he promises "something really special" -- is not the end of the road. Just 16 days after the closing ceremony of the Olympics, the Paralympics opens.
"We're approaching the finishing line, but I don't see the finishing line being the opening ceremony, I see it as the closing ceremony at the Paralympics. Then we can relax and look back at what we've done." AFP