After years of planning and talking about it, we’re nearly underway (I don’t count the football matches that have already taken place I’m afraid, why on earth were they before the opening ceremony?). I’ve no patience with the nay-sayers and doom-mongers, this is going to be great. Is it expensive? Yes, but would the government really have spent it on anything more useful? Was the ticketing a fiasco? Yes, but we’ll get over it. Will there be traffic congestion? Yes, but surely we can cope for a few weeks out of a lifetime. People were also saying that we’d never manage the construction. But we’ve come in on budget (which was only revised once as far as I’m aware, and that was pretty early on), and way ahead of the start. Don’t forget that in previous years other countries were still building practically up the opening ceremony, but our last permanent venue was finished a year ago and all the major venues at least have been holding competitions, and making sure things are working properly. That’s pretty impressive for a project of this size.
No, I’m really looking forward to this, and not only because I’ve been lucky enough to get a ticket (and no it’s not for the 100m final). It’s a spectacle and the pinnacle of so many sports. Everyone wants to take part. Who or what are going to be the big stories this time? The glory of winning a medal, or even more than one? Or will it be someone with indomitable fighting spirit that we all get behind, like Derek Redmond hobbling over the line on his dad’s arm when his hamstring snapped in ’92 just because he had to finish the race, or Eric the Eel, who had only learnt to swim a couple of months before the Sydney Games and was cheered to the end by a crowd who thought he wasn’t going to make it.
The Olympics also give us the chance to watch sports that aren’t normally given much, or any, air time. I think I’ll tune in for some archery and canoeing, and now I come to think of it, I’ve never seen any water polo, so maybe I should give that a go this time.
I heard a surprising statistic this morning – that for 75% of the GB&NI team, this is their first Olympics. It shows how much new talent we have in this country, and presumably a lot of that has happened because of the investment brought about by bringing the Games here. For the future of our sports, that surely has to be a good thing. Given how wonderful it’s going to be for them all to perform on home turf, I just hope this doesn’t spoil them for the next time!
This won’t be quite as interactive for me as the Olympics Games of my youth, where I’d conscientiously (obsessively?) make a note of all the results in whatever book tie-in had been produced that time. That doesn’t really seem as “necessary” anymore, now that we have the results published for ever more on the internet. A far cry from one games when I was getting them off Ceefax and wondering how to get the ones I’d missed. But nevertheless, this is all going to be great fun. And one of the best things about it? No time zone problems to worry about for a change!