Well, here it is: the opening ceremony day of the London Olympics, 2012. For Londoners, this has been a long anticipated (or dreaded) day. For years now, talk has been running high about Olympic bids, Olympic facilities, Olympic legacies, Olympic heat-seeking ground to air missiles on your tower block, and Olympic displacement of travelling residents. Oh, and the topic of Olympic tickets!
Asking whether someone has tickets to the Olympics has become like talking about the weather.
Normally, when I’m at a bar-b-que or similar function, the weather is the go-to topic of conversation with strangers, since you can’t really offend anyone with weather-talk. This year, dinner parties and networking events have been heaving with chit-chat about whether people have Olympic tickets, and what they’re for.
There was a swell of interest among my male personal training friends who were excited to have female beach volleyball. I don’t know anyone who managed to get tickets to finals in the main stadium. I think perhaps all of the G4S employees bagged those tickets. That’s probably why they were several thousand people short of their recruitment targets 2 weeks before the games.
A friend of mine who is on her son’s Parent Teacher Association committee wanted to plan an Olympic fun event for the school. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea, until she discovered that they weren’t allowed to use the words “Olympics” or ”The Games,” and they couldn’t use the Olympic rings symbols. Even if they were drawn by the 3 year olds in the reception class. It’s surprising since you would think they’re helping to promote the whole thing and instil a sense of positive pride in the games among the children of the host country. Thinking of it, perhaps I shouldn’t be using any of those terms here!
Perhaps that’s why Islington Council put an interesting display on the town hall?
But despite my sarcastic cynicism, I truly am all for the games. I absolutely love watching professional athletes realise the pinnacle of their careers, and perform their event in front of the world following years of training, commitment and dedication. I find it truly inspiring. In fact, some truly spectacular events bring a tear to my eye.
My husband and I set out yesterday morning to see the torch wind its way down a local high street. It was pretty incredible seeing how many people of all ages and backgrounds were driven to come out before work to support the flame and the emblematic spirit of the games.
I know that the Olympics are about more than sport and peak physical fitness. On a personal level, they are about strength, courage and incredible human feats. On a global scale, they’re about the nations of the world coming together on a level playing field (albeit with vastly differential funding resources available for them to make it there).
But apart from the geopolitical relevance of the games, the Olympics clearly come down to the physical performance of athletes, and the mental concentration required to achieve their best. Perhaps this is why London selected the tagline “Inspire a generation.” I assume this must have something to do with inspiring young people to be active, dedicate themselves to goals, and to get involved in sports and fitness programmes.
I was surprised to discover that (according to the The Economist) the Olympics doesn’t actually increase overall engagement of sports in Olympic host nations. Apparently there is an increase in certain sports, but there is also a relatively equal parallel decrease in other sports, suggesting that people who are already active are inspired to switch lanes and try out new and different activities.
I’m not sure these Olympics will see me giving up my current routine for Judo or Modern Pentathlon… but you never know. Trying new things is good for our fitness.
It certainly has been a nail-biting lead-up to the Olympic events, and I can’t wait for it all to officially begin. I’ll look forward to watching the opening ceremony tonight on the TV and I’ll also look forward to seeing Women’s Tandem Springboard Diving in person on Sunday! I can’t wait, and I’ll be sure to post pictures from the ground, as it were.
I’ll leave you with photos of the torch relay and some Londoner 2012 questions (check out Eileen Hobson’s inspiring story- after two decades spent lying on her back in hospital, she’s managed her illness enough to get up and functioning with help from her dog, Sailor. She carried the Olympic flame with his help on Monday!).
Do you have Olympic tickets?
Do you think McDonald’s should be served at the Olympics?
They’ve built the world’s largest McDonalds in the Olympic Park.