Thursday, 26 July 2012

An Olympic Day

For starters I have to admit to not being a sporty type, in either my own physical nature or as a spectator. However the Olympic Games are in town and as it is a once in a lifetime visit we (my little family) decided to try to get tickets – asked for three lots and got two, how jammy was that!

Yesterday, a full two days before the official opening ceremony, the events started in places far from London (how odd!) with loads of football (that being the real football game not the American one where they use hands!). We had tickets to see two games in Coventry; Japan versus Canada and Sweden versus South Africa. With media talk of security facilities and traffic jams we headed off early but we need not have bothered as the roads were flowing easily and the security well run when we got there – not a single sign of G4S though!

(The pitch being looked after and watered between practice sessions)

We found our seats easily with the help of very friendly security, police and stewarding staff. The view was great, we were about six rows in front of the main TV camera so we had a perfect view (if these were the cheap seats then heaven knows what the expensive ones were like).

The most important job upon entering the stadium was to find the toilets, all was well and then as we washed our hands I found it difficult to suppress a hearty laugh. Why? Because the soap dispensers and the hot air (or should that be asthmatic?) hand dryers had had their manufacturer names rather shoddily covered up with black masking tape. This would not have been so bad had the items not been white and so the tape just looked stupid. Is this where all the effort to organise has gone? Blanking out names on existing items, whether this is LOCOG or the IOC, this is pathetic and rather OCD!

The other problem was the supply of water, the tickets said we could take in empty bottles and that there was a supply of water. I asked and was knocked back on that one, even the stewards seemed unaware of where this could be, so in view of the heat I bought bottles of drink – as we were there for two games this meant numerous trips to the kiosk and a cost of £12 or more. I am an unemployed person who got the tickets in employed times and this was money that could have been better spent elsewhere for me.

Moans over, the event was brilliantly organised, the teams played brilliantly. I was supporting Canada in the first match but sadly they were no match for the Japanese – but on the plus side I have a new crush on Canada’s number six.

In the second match I had elected to support Sweden and this time my support was repaid by some lovely teamwork, and a couple of almost surreal goals. The slow trickle of a goal over the line was met by an audible inhalation in the stadium followed by laughter and a cheer. Good play was rewarded by applause, and on only a couple of occasions was what for us in there seemed like odd referee decisions met by an audible disagreeing from the crowd.

The slightly sad thing for those watching at home was that the stadium may have appeared pretty empty, that was a shame. In fact with two games included in the tickets it meant that those who were die-hard supporters of each team either arrived late after one game, or left early. This perplexed me and I found it a bit odd, having travelled to see a game by all means support your own team but why not cheer on or just check out the other teams? It just feels a bit rude to me.

That apart the place was at times very well attended and the atmosphere was playful, in fact for the last ten minutes of the second match there was an almost continuous Mexican Wave going on, after about three minutes it became a bit tiring to have to jump up, after seven minutes it was just a bit too long but nevertheless it was enjoyable.

My young son summed it up when he said, “I thought I might be bored watching, but this is exciting and the second match is so much more exciting”. I could not disagree.

As I said in an earlier piece, I am behind the games and yesterday has showed me that it can be great. I hope that there are no more little bits of nonsense, like that which happened in Glasgow yesterday, to overshadow a great event. London 2012, Inspire a Generation it says on the poster, it certainly uplifted me and my young generation. Bring on the games proper (well apart from Gymnastics that is!)

(A view of the stadium in Olympic decoration before the crowds filled out and before the games started)

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