The games are almost wrapped up and it’s time to wrap up my Olympic themed posts, with this final piece. Mrs P and I visited the Olympic stadium to watching running, jumping and throwing type events last Wednesday, and here’s a few of my thoughts on the venues and legacy of London 2012.
First of all though, the entry to the park was as slick, quick and painless – not what we’d been told to be prepared for. Two hour queues? Where? The whole organisation of the games was superb. No complaints from us whatsoever. Only praise. Of course, when the capitalist part of the deal (G4S security) fell over and failed to deliver, the ‘socialists’ (the Armed Forces) stepped up and saved the day. Again. Just sayin’.
The stadiums? The Olympic stadium isn’t the grandest stadium that’s ever been built. But it’s still pretty impressive. More importantly, it won’t be left empty to rot after the games. It’s so in demand, there are court battles going on to try and win the arena. The velodrome and aquatics centres are grand, however. Very grand.
Lasty, the Orbit. The big bit of twisted red ‘art’ architecture that looks a bit like the Eiffel Tower after a nuclear blast. I had my reservations about that from the beginning. I thought it might grow on me. I thought it would look better in the flesh. It doesn’t. It looks awful. Which is a shame, because that didn’t need to be the case. What really ruined it was the light brown mesh of the stairwell and platform at the top. It looked tacked on. An afterthought. And it totally detracted from the rest of the structure.
Inside the stadium, everything looked just as an Olympics should look. Huge crowds, a buzzing atmosphere and fantastic support. Whenever a British runner was introduced, the roar was deafening. That was something that you can tell from the television coverage. What isn’t so obvious on the telly, is the Mexican wave of sound that follows British athletes as they run round the track. I can see now how ‘home advantage’ works. It must have been inspiring for the Brit runners, jumpers and throwers.
So how about the legacy of the games? It’s all cost a lot of money. Billions. Will it turn a profit? To be fair, it’ll be impossible to measure the exact economic impact of the games financially. However, a lot of that money went onto infrastructure and redeveloping a pretty grotty part of the city. It was money well spent. There’s another factor in the legacy games, which isn’t so material. The London 2012 games have helped define modern Britain, and to promote a positive image of the country across the planet. This shouldn’t be underestimated.
When we think of countries, we tend to think both of their history and their current image. When I think of Germany today I think of an manufacturing powerhouse, with a well managed economy. I think of their cars, which often define for many people what Germany represents today – quality, strength, reliability, advanced engineering. A premium, superior product. People shopping for new car deals are drawn to brands like Mercedes. Why? It’s because of the image, perception and appeal that accompanies German brands. German products have a reputation to be envied. There has to be substance to back up the image for there to be success of course. And German cars exported around the world are that substance.
The image of Britain around the world has sadly been sullied over the last decade by two foreign wars, one of which was entirely unjustified. This is our big opportunity to reinvent the country. To promote us as a country who can not only fund, organise and deliver the biggest show on earth. But also as a country who are a leading light in technology. In finance. In manufacturing. In science. That’s perhaps the most important legacy that the Olympics can deliver.
Anyway, on a final note – I really enjoyed the games. Really, really enjoyed them. Other than the Orbit, most of my negative impressions about the design of kits, mascots and logos have been swept away. When it was all put together, it worked brilliantly. Tonight is the closing ceremony, and I’m quite sure that this will be spectacular as well. My photos from the Olympic Park are on Flickr here.