It was predicted to be a disaster - gridlocked traffic, mile-long queues at airports, deserted streets and a population constantly on guard for a terror attack - not an enjoyable global sporting event.
However, in the wake of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, even the most ardent of doom-mongers would have to admit the event has been a roaring success.
And the quietly spoken Bellaghy man who helped it all go without a hitch has more reason than most to celebrate.
He has also urged businesses in his native Northern Ireland not to rest on their laurels and look further afield for more opportunities, including the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Gerry Walsh (53), who now lives in Buckinghamshire, is a veteran of top companies including Ford, American Express and Associated British Foods. He was headhunted three years ago for the role of head of procurement with Locog, the company organising the Olympic Games in London.
He and his 30-strong team had to decide how to spend a budget of £1.2bn on everything including facilities management and catering, production services for the opening and closing ceremonies, security, services, sports, technology, transport and logistics, venues and venue logistics, accommodation and fit-outs.
After all those years planning and a triumphant three months of sporting excellence, he is finally ready to step down from the role next month.
"It has been an incredibly busy time and I am looking forward to recharging the batteries," he said.
"Everybody on the team has been working six or seven days a week and we are starting to get our energy back and look ahead."
Having set the whole event up, his team's main job now is to dismantle the infrastructure surrounding the Games.
"When we set out, the first thing we set out to do when we were building our infrastructure, was that we were careful not to create white elephants," he said.
"We did not want to be faced with a huge firesale at the end of the Games so when we signed contracts with companies, we were careful to include buy-back clauses for some of the more unusual items or things that would have been considered hard to sell - so for instance with the equestrian equipment at Greenwich Park, a lot of that went back to the suppliers.
"Other things are being sold off, like PCs and telephones, via an official Locog auction site."
Remains Of The Games website is selling off things like athletes' beds, tennis balls, traffic cones and beanbags.
Mr Walsh said that lots of the infrastructure is going to promote the legacy of the London Olympics.
"A lot of things have gone to sports centres, like the sand for the beach volleyball, which has gone to the English Beach Volleyball Association and are helping to promote sports, health and wellbeing for the next generation and hopefully result in a fitter population in future.
"A huge positive that has been taken from the Paralympic games is that many sports clubs, including my own tennis club, are equipping themselves to better accommodate disabled participants."
He said that despite some negative headlines about reduced footfall in London shopping mecca Oxford Street and a dearth of visitors to the theatres of the West End, the overall business benefits to London and the wider UK have been immense.
"I think it depends on where you look," he said.
"Yes, the big tourist spots may not have been as popular as expected, but over in east London there was a massive sales uptake in places like the Westfield Centre, and we did bring in extra visitors.
"One thing that may be overlooked is that the Games helped many people who had been long-term unemployed, get work experience and gain confidence that will really help their employability skills.
"Economically, from our end alone there has been £1.2bn of financial benefits to businesses and industry," he said. "90% of the businesses who won contracts were from the UK. The competition in the tendering process was fierce so to have won through tells us a lot about those organisations.
"They will be much fitter for the future having come through this process; they will have a better understanding about how things are moving in sustainability and they will have a link to this major event.
"They will also be able to look further afield in future.
"I would expect that UK and indeed Northern Ireland businesses can say, if we can do London 2012, we can do Rio 2016 and I hope we will see some of these businesses again.
"Brazil is a real emerging market for firms in the UK and while companies there will be able to do a lot, I foresee that they may not be able to go local for quite as much as their overall spend as we were able to do."
He said that the Games had also been a masterclass in teamwork between widely differing organisations.
"It is hard and perhaps wrong of me to name individual organisations, but Transport for London worked hard for years to make everything run smoothly and there was a lot of investment for the overall transport network.
"There were those absolute prophets of doom who predicted gridlock at the airports and mile-long queues at passport control and just look at the work that BAA and BA did - it was all just amazing.
"The police, the armed forces, the volunteer Gamesmakers, many of whom were from Northern Ireland - everywhere you turned there were people working in partnership to make the Games work.
"I am absolutely delighted about the positive knock-on benefits from the Games, including the investment in London and indeed in other parts of the country like Weymouth and the Lee Valley.
"As a nation we carried this off brilliantly and proved to the world that Britain can deliver large capital projects and the benefit to industry through that image will be enormous."
For a man that was looking forward to retirement just three years ago, Gerry Walsh said he is not keen to put his feet up just yet.
"I don't know what I am going to do now," he said.
"I'm going to enjoy a trip home to Northern Ireland as my daughter is beginning her studies at Queen's University. I am going to have a rest and I am going to have a look around and see what happens.
"For me to get involved in anything of anywhere near this scale again, it will certainly have to be interesting and it will certainly have to be unique.
"And it depends if it is appropriate - if there is sport involved, I will certainly be tempted."
Northern Ireland firms which won Olympic business
- H&J Martin: Fitted out the International Broadcast Centre which hosted over 20,000 journalists from around the world
- Lagan Construction: Built the central footbridge to the Olympic Stadium
- Logan's Travel, Dunloy, and Translink, Belfast: Supplied coaches
- Boyd Bedding, Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone: Sole supplier of wood shavings for the equestrian area
- Cunningham Covers, Maghera: Provided huge tarpaulin covers for the beach volleyball centre at Horse Guards Parade in the centre of London
- McGrath Group, Lisburn: Provided the architectural metal work for the Olympic Stadium
- Macrete Concrete, Toomebridge: Supplied the parapet support structures for bridges and roads in the Olympic Park
Olympic games: The key statistics
£1.2bn - The budget that Locog were given to spend during the Games
20,000 - The total number of journalists that the International Broadcast Centre could host. It was fitted out by Northern Ireland’s H&J Martin
90% - The percentage of the contracts that were won by businesses in the United Kingdom
30 - The number of people in the Locog team who helped organise the Games
26 - The number of Olympic sports
20 - The number of Paralympic sports
14,700 - The number of competing athletes
10.8m - The number of ticketholders who attended the Games, which is the equivalent of staging 46 World Championships simultaneously