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Published on Monday, August 13, 2012

London prepared for Olympic departures

Olympic athletes will be given a special send off at London Heathrow today with a specially constructed terminal.

The size of three Olympic swimming pools, the temporary terminal has been created to look like a London park and will be used for three days to cope with the influx of extra departing passengers.

Around 116,000 people are expected to leave from Heathrow today (Monday), compared to around 95,000 departing passengers on an average day.

The terminal, in the staff car park, has plants, park benches, replica gas lights, trees and model stags.

On its walls is London's skyline and the park is filled with iconic London designs such as the red telephone box and Routemaster bus.

Some Heathrow staff are even dressing like park wardens for the day and a bearskin guard is stationed at ticket presentation.

Athletes will be invited to record their favourite memory of the London Games and hang it on a tree, which will be displayed at the airport after the Games.

The comments will be put into books that will be presented to the 1,300 Heathrow volunteers.

More than 5,000 bags were collected at Olympic Village yesterday and processed overnight.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: "We want to continue the feel-good factor of the Games at the airport on our busiest day for departing athletes. I hope our Games Terminal park will bring a smile to passengers' faces and contribute to final happy memories of London."

"Olympic Village check-in went according to plan yesterday with thousands of bags being processed at Heathrow overnight. Today's departures present a fresh challenge with new facilities like the Games Terminal being used for the first time. We have been preparing for seven years to deliver a farewell of which Great Britain can be proud."

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