Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Does the Olympic Games care about the fans?

Speaking in 2005 Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) revealed the core vision of the games was "to stage inspirational Games that capture the imagination of young people around the world and leave a lasting legacy."

He neglected to mention the fans. So, with the Games now just 346 days away I hope LOCOG start to think about us. On Sunday I went into central London filled with excitement as I was going to see the end of the London-Surrey Cycle Classic. This was the test event for the Olympic cycling road race and, as a cycling fan, a rare occasion to see the world's best on the UK's roads.

The main reason for my excitement was this course favoured a sprint finish and Mark Cavendish - the world's fastest sprinter - was headlining the Great Britain line-up. Having experienced the thrill of seeing the Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysee I headed to the Mall in anticipation of seeing a spectacular end to the race.

Unfortunately the crucial last 500 metres of the course were cordoned off by 10 foot high metal fencing covered in thick green netting making viewing the inevitable sprint finish impossible. Unless you were "a designated wrist-band holder" I was told by the security staff. When I enquired how I bought one of these magic wristbands I was told that they weren't for sale. This meant I was forced to squeeze my way onto the railings 650 metres from the finish, just outside Buckingham Palace, and just out of range of a view of the final sprint. Meanwhile the wristband only area remained  virtually empty as my picture of the finishing line below illustrates:

I've been a staunch supporter of the Olympic Games being held in this country. I've argued against those who have criticised the Games. Now I'm not so sure. Why was a kilometre of prime viewing area given over to the elusive wristband holders? Is this going to be the area reserved for the big corporate sponsors at next year's games?

What should have been a great day to celebrate the performances of one of our finest athletes - Mark Cavendish did win the sprint - left me feeling let down and wondering if real fans will get a look in next Summer.

1 comment:

  1. "Is this going to be the area reserved for the big corporate sponsors at next year's games?"
    Um, yes.

    The rural part of this route goes past my Mum's house and she has had quite a lot of correspondence about this event - mainly due to the traffic disruption caused by having her road closed. Apparently this was a dress rehearsal for the real event next year. Everything was being done exactly as it will be done next year. IN my mother's case this meant the building and taking down of a 'press camera stand' that was not used by any press who did not, of course, turn out to film or photograph this event but who will be there for the Olympics.

    So this event had nothing to do with what happened the other day, but everything to do with what is going to happen next year.

    And do the Olympics care about the fans? No. Not at all. Next time we meet allow me to talk to you about the BOC member I used to know quite well and what she told me.


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