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Concerns have been raised over the prospect of up to 50,000 visitors to the Inner Temple during the summer Olympics following a deal to allow the Belgian Olympic Committee (BOIC) to reside there for the event.
Management of chambers located in the Inner Temple were called to a meeting with the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple earlier this month to discuss the implications of the visit. They were told there would be restrictions on who could enter the inns at certain times of the day and to stagger work hours to accommodate the guests.
While one clerk said the visitors, which will include members of the Belgian royal family, were to be welcomed another said it was an unwanted disruption to chambers life.
The agreement was signed last summer, but it is only now that details are emerging. The Inner Temple will host the team for 17 days from 27 July, impacting the final days of Trinity term. Around 11,000 guests will pass through the site and the newly built Apex Temple Court Hotel. However, between 30,000 and 50,000 guests are expected to pass through the inns during that time.
“It’s like taking St James’s Park and dumping it on us,” one Inner Temple resident said. “How rent-paying members of the inns will take to being swarmed I don’t know.”
Another added: “In the old days everyone would go away for the summer, but now business is such an ongoing concern that many sets are open and busy during the summer months.”
Brick Court senior clerk Ian Moyler said it was a welcome opportunity to get involved with the Olympics.
“London’s going to be chaotic,” he said. “It’ll affect the end of term, but it means making plans now. Staggering start times, stocking up on food or water because there are going to be no deliveries: it won’t be a problem. We should be very happy to have them.”
The Inner Temple commissioned EXP Sport in August 2010 to secure a client specifically for the Olympics, spotting a business opportunity to boost the coffers. The deal was completed in June last year.
Patrick Maddams, sub-treasurer of The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming the Belgian National Olympic Committee, their guests and the Belgian royal family to the inn during next year’s Olympics.
“Given the friendly relations and close proximity of our two countries, we hope that our Belgian guests will have a memorable time with us.”