by Laurie Anstis on August 13, 2012
A lot has been written about the great work done by the organising staff, volunteers and, of course, the athletes themselves. They well deserve the praise that is coming their way, but I thought I’d write a short post praising, from a spectator’s point of view, five aspects of the games that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.
1. No logo
LOCOG were criticised prior to the games for some heavy-handed enforcement of their sponsors’ privileges, which had lead me to expect that you wouldn’t be able to move in the venues for fear of running into a Coca-Cola banner or someone trying to sell a BMW.
In fact, I found the sponsors only had quite a muted prescence at the venues. There were the pavilions in the Olympic park, but they were quite low-key. To my mind, it was the absence of branding in the venues that was more striking. With no advertising boards around the field of play, sponsors were much less noticeable than at any other major sporting event I’ve been to, and a bar menu simply offering “ale” was a reminder of how used I have become to everything having a brand name attached.
2. Games travelcard and rail tickets
The free travelcard that came with tickets was a great idea, and surely increased the number of people who came to the games by public transport. Even better were the discounted rail tickets that people with games tickets could take advantage of, which in my case meant that travel from Reading to London was about 1/4 to 1/2 of the usual cost, depending on the time you went. I’m used to cheaper train tickets having no flexibility and lots of small print, but the games tickets allowed outward and return travel at any time on the day of the event you had tickets for. I went through the small print several times thinking I’d missed something, but I hadn’t – they were that flexible.
It would be nice to think this would catch on with other major events, but I can’t see it happening.
Most of the venues I went to seemed to go out of their way to entertain the spectators during gaps in the action, or before the sport actually started. We had cheerleaders doing gymnastics at the handball, stunt cycling at the mountain biking and stunt skipping and dunking at the basketball. It was unexpected, and added to the atmosphere, especially for the children who were at the venue.
4. Art and music
On return visits to the Olympic park I made a point of seeking out the various art installations on the site. There was also a bandstand at the far end of the park where I came across The Great Malarkey, who were excellent.
The landscaping and planting on the Olympic park were great too, but they have been praised elsewhere.
It has come in for criticism elsewhere, but I thought the catering was pretty good. Except at carnival it isn’t common to find Caribbean food at big events, so I was pleased to find it in the Olympic park. Earlier in the year I’d paid £7 for curry goat from a local stall in a park in north London, so £8.50 didn’t seem like overcharging in the Olympic park. On another visit I’d had stew peas for £6.50, and both were tasty and filling.
(Tim Bratton does a better Olympic blogpost here).