Monday 1 March 2010

Can London learn anything from Vancouver's Winter Olympics?

After initially thinking I wouldn't be interested, I've really enjoyed the last week or so of watching the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I managed to catch quite a bit of the Ski Cross which was brilliant, and last night I watched the Ice Hockey final between Canada and the USA.

Today I've been reading a few reports that have spoken highly of the Games and the positive impact it's had on Canada and its people. As London is up next on the Olympic stop, the inevitable questions about our own Games are being raised. What can we learn from Vancouver? What type of Games do we want? And how do we want our Games to be remembered and experienced?

From all the reports I've been reading, it seems Vancouver has been a great success especially in terms of the enjoyment that spectators have experienced from the Games.

What's also been quite noticeable is the amount of national pride and patriotism that's been shown from the Canadians. Canadians don’t have a reputation of flag waving like their American neighbours, but I'm wondering if this could possibly inspire us Brits in 2012?

I currently live Stratford, and everyday I see the Olympic stadium and the area around it developing. For me it's amazing that this is going on right on my door step, but with two years to go there doesn't seem to be a great wave of enthusiasm from the public in general.

If there was an Olympic event for cynicism, then this country would win Gold, Silver and Bronze without any problems! We'd be world beaters. I'm just wondering whether this cynicism can be put aside and whether we can really embrace the Games and make them truly memorable.

By the time 2012 comes along we need to have a good idea of the type of Games we want to produce, there're lessons we can learn from the recent Games in Vancouver and in Beijing.

Here's some points which I think we should be considering and looking at to make 2012 a real success.

1. Make the Olympics a celebration, a two week carnival for British people and the rest of the world to enjoy. There needs to be certain focal points around the Olympic site and the rest of London in which people can come together to enjoy the Games, experience the atmosphere of the Olympics.

The Chinese didn't do this in 2008. Yes they had great sporting facilities for the athletes and visitors, but from all the reports there was no celebration on the streets of Beijing that the Olympics were taking place!

2. The Olympics is about showcasing a country to the world. Again we need to put aside our natural pessimism and highlight the best of this country, and that doesn't just mean London. Lets look at ways to make sure the whole country feels it's involved.

3. In partnership with the last point, lets not forget what a great city London is. London is at the centre of the World. Perhaps the only true world city along with New York. There's so much to work with here but we seem to underestimate how much London has to offer as a host city.

4. Make the Olympics spectator friendly - this is important for London as 2012 will be the first time for many people that they will be able to experience an Olympics rather than viewing it on tv.

5. Make sure that tickets are sold for all the events and that the venues are full. Some of the more unfashionable minority sports will need special focus on. I'm thinking things like, Handball and Fencing. We'll need to think of ways of making them more attractive to spectators. Jazzing them up a bit! Secondly highlight sports like BMXing which have natural appeal for more frills and spills!

6. Lets have the Press really getting behind the Games. The Press seem to take great delight in focusing on the problems of organising major sporting events. They've moaned about things in Vancouver, and we never seem to stop hearing scare stories about South Africa and the forthcoming World Cup.

7. Rather then look at the Games as being imposed upon us, we need to look at the Games as being something which belongs to us. Our own enthusiasm and support will directly impact on how successful the Games will be.

That's just a few of my random thoughts. If you have any ideas or opinions you want to add then do leave a comment. It would be good to hear thoughts on how to make the Games a success rather then the problems and challenges the Games pose. There's too much emphasis sometimes on how or why the Games will fail.

Anyway, any thoughts, let us know.

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