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London 2012: The Home Straight Finally Beckons

Posted: 19/04/2012 16:36

The shrill of a ringing bell carries a number of connotations. With this being a piece on London 2012, it could be a hackneyed reference to a city waking up to the dawn of a new beginning come July. It could even be more on-the-nose with some reference to Big Ben chiming welcoming tones to the arriving world...

Instead, it's the bell rung on the final lap of a long-distance track race which perhaps best signals the klaxon call to London on the most auspicious countdown mark to date: 100 days to go.

Oddly in the capital, everything continues to be very workmanlike and, well, normal. The hum of the forthcoming Games has been low and slow which has continued to allow the trolls and naysayers to have the floor when mentions of the Olympics come to prominence. All experts conclude that as we get closer to July - and in particular once the Torch Relay starts - the broader perception will shift and change.

What is fascinating at this stage is two things. Firstly, the broader public seem oblivious to just how anticipated these London Olympics are, worldwide. While there were many reports of domestic events to signal a century of days to the Opening Ceremony, over the Atlantic NBC (the official US broadcaster of the Olympics) commandeered Times Square no less, presenting a plethora of American athletes to meet fans and the media. The US team had earlier in the week placed one-page ads in London newspapers exuding their excitement for our Games. Globally there is such anticipation. Athletes and fans are desperate to be here. This, is a huge credit to London's standing in general terms even before we get to the Olympic Park.

There we find the second point of fascination: the Park experience is actually fantastic. The Velodrome, the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Stadium have all held test events now which have been greatly received. So much good work has been done with security and crowd control at these events, with stewards and volunteers offering a personal touch that will create an amazing feeling at Games time. The venues themselves do not disappoint. Having attended the recent event at the stadium, I really felt for the first time that the Olympics were ours. It is an intimate arena for such capacity, and coupled with the other stadia in Marshgate Lane is the perfect riposte to the notion that LOCOG couldn't create venues that would rival those of Beijing's polished games of 2008. They celebrate the best of British skill and ingenuity.

Writing pieces like these seem strange as many seem inclined to just deride London 2012 for any and all reasons necessary; a perpetual state of negativity from select quarters and critics seem intent of choking the buds of goodwill and excitement amongst a growing majority, albeit silent. It's hard to know where it stems from be it loathing of London, or the fallout over tickets. But critics need to be clear on one thing: 8.8 million tickets (or thereabouts) were made available. The bulk of which have been sold. By even playing the hardiest game of devil's advocate on the 'well them sponsors got all the tickets eh?' debate, the estimate would see around some six to seven million tickets have gone to the general public. That's a lot of tickets, and a lot of people attending an Olympic Games that apparently nobody wants and everybody hates. It's a good job the rest of the world appreciate our bizarre sense of humour and irony.

There is plenty left to do and sub-plots to unravel before we get to the next major milestone which is 50 days to go on June 7. If this really is a long-distance race, then London is neatly poised on the final bend ready to make an outstanding push to the line. After all, where is the fun in winning a race from the front?

 

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