Almost two years ago I began working on an Olympics project for the company I was with at the time. Early on in the process, before having my “deer in headlights moment”, I spent some time chatting with my client, a lady who does nothing else other than work on the summer and winter olympic games as well as a small football tournament known as The World Cup. We were speaking about past programs and in doing so she told me something that has stuck with me from then until now – and to be fair is appropriate for most events we work on;
“The games”, she said, “are coming. Come what may, there will be no delays, no postponing and no chance to hide away and hope it will just pass you by. Whether you are ready or not, it is an out of control juggernaut that will hit come July 2012 – and it will be messy”
*pause as jaw hits floor*
Since then, I have met with members of Transport for London, LOCOG, different local authorities – all of whom have seemed lost within their own right as to exactly how things will pan out over the games period, and all of whom seem to think that they have been asked to translate someone else’s promise in to a workable reality. Every day there is more talk of doom and gloom over the games time, and just yesterday I was having a conversation about 2 hour journey times to and from work, and the possibility of additional road closures that will really make travel even more difficult for everyone. Add to this the current rainy English Summer and already crippled air and rail networks and all in all, you have a pretty bleak overview of London 2012 with only weeks to go until said juggernaut crashes in to town.
And then, out of nowhere, comes the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
To be fair, I took the opportunity, not knowing what to expect and benefitting from extra time away from work, to go away with the lovely @misscallis and spend some “us” time at a safe distance from London and catching all of the best bits on TV. Suddenly, out of nowhere, and in and around the end of the boat pageant down the Thames, came pangs of patriotism I didn’t know I had, and the feeling that for those most willing to put up with all of the chaos that was road closures and bad weather – this was a small taste of the summer games ahead and these people would be happy to put up with the madness in order to be a part of a once in a lifetime experience.
Then there was the spectacle that was the Jubilee concert. The music was so, so – but the finale was great, and seeing Buckingham Palace lit up as it was, left me with a warm fuzzy feeling that just maybe we will be able to come close to Beijing in terms of spectacle and entertainment value for both opening and closing Olympic ceremonies.
So what now? Well, for some of us the games period will be spent behind closed door and working with specific clients to ensure that their guests have an amazing time – as they benefit from unlimited food and drink and the opportunity to see some of the real stars – the athletes – compete in some really lovely venues (I was lucky enough to have a tour of the Olympic park some time ago). Who knows just how ready we will be, just how much will have to be worked out on the day and retrospectively as each day then passes – and whether or not we will find ourselves a laughing stock or toast of the world.
All remains to be seen, but on the evidence of the last couple of days festivities, we may just pull it off. Only time will tell. I would love to hear your plans over the summer games – will you be braving the streets or even travelling to London to experience the real thing?
- London 2012 Olympics: 60,000 people to practise their routines in three secret opening ceremony rehearsals (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Fears of Olympic travel chaos after London Jubilee problems (theweek.co.uk)