By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - London entered the final six-month countdown to the Olympic Games on Friday with a blizzard of facts and figures as well as a nod to William Shakespeare and Britain's nurses.
As countdown clocks showed 182 days to go, organizers LOCOG formally took charge of the Olympic Village site that will house up to 16,000 athletes and team officials when the Games start on July 27 and said everything was looking good.
Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of 'Slumdog Millionaire' who is overseeing the opening ceremony, revealed that the 'Isles of Wonder' show would involve a big bell and also pay tribute to the country's National Health Service.
The ceremony's title is inspired by Caliban's speech in Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest', a tale of spirits, shipwreck and redemption.
While Boyle kept the details close to his chest, LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton made up for that in an earlier briefing with reporters full of facts, figures and mind-boggling minutiae.
"All the things we needed to do to be in great shape over the past six and a half years are in place," he declared. "The venues are in great shape, the money's in good shape.
"But there's still an enormous amount to do. Like any business, you need to get the vision right and the resources right and plan right but you still need to execute superbly within that strategy.
"This last six months is all about that attention to detail."
TOILETS AND TENTS
Those include fitting out 2,800 apartments in the village, testing venues, interviewing, training and kitting out volunteers and installing enough cabling to wrap the circumference of the landmark London Eye 1.3 million times.
Enough temporary toilets have been ordered (10,000) to service a population equivalent to that of Malta while 5,000 toilet brushes are being bought for the village.
The tents to be erected would cover a space equivalent to all of Hong Kong while more fixed line telephones must be installed than are in all the iconic red boxes across Britain.
The number of temporary seats (250,000) amounts to more than the capacity of Barcelona's Nou Camp and Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadiums combined, with more than a million tickets still to go on sale after being held back for contingency planning.
Once the Games start, there will be enough condoms distributed (150,000) to put a smile on any athletes' face, although LOCOG would not be drawn on whether that quantity was expected to be sufficient to cater for demand.
Organizers are also bracing for the largest peacetime catering operation in the world, with 14 million meals served to spectators - enough to feed lunch and dinner for a day to the entire population of Rio de Janeiro, the next host city.
The current 4,000 strong workforce will expand to 200,000, after 76,000 interviews, with training starting next month.
Friday's milestone was one of many that organizers have trumpeted on the countdown to the city's third summer Games, with the 200 days to go mark passed on January 9.
April 18 will be 100 days to go, May 5 marks 2,012 hours remaining and June 7 crosses the final 50-day threshold but the date when a majority of Londoners become truly enthralled by the scale of the event seems yet to dawn.
If there is still considerable skepticism, amid fears of transport chaos and suffocating security, LOCOG expects enthusiasm to burn brightly once the torch arrives on British soil in May.
"The torch relay is when the nation is really going to come together," said LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe. "We are quite slow burning as a nation but it will happen...when that torch starts its journey, that's when the landscape does transform very quickly."
Jeremy Hunt, the UK minister for Culture, Media and Sport, was on hand to emphasize the government's commitment to the Games.
"We want to demonstrate at a time of great economic uncertainty the things that we believe we can do. I hope that it won't just be a boost to this country but to global confidence," he told reporters.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mark Meadows)