Olympic Countdown: the good, the bad and the ugly

Olympic rings on the Tower Bridge

Now the fever pitch can be felt.  It is on the radio, on TV, you see it everywhere on the roads and on the transport system – London is definitely hosting the Olympic and Paralympics Games shortly.

Big mobile signs have been installed on the Olympic Road Network warning of impending restrictions or telling you that The Olympic Road Network is now open to all users’. Thanks!  When the first lanes came into operation on 16thJuly from Heathrow Airport drivers were confused as they arrived at the point where it starts and cameras picked up hundreds of cars trying frantically to switch lanes to avoid entering the dreaded ORN.

Games lane open

People are getting exercised about the privilege, the vast amount of tickets going to the sponsors and the general sense that this is all a bit out of the reach of ordinary folk. Lord Coe, the chairman of the organising committee has enraged many by stating on the BBC that he has to protect the sponsors and if someone shows up wearing a Pepsi t-shirt they are likely to be denied entry to the Olympic venues.  When pressed about this point and asked if you would be ejected for wearing Nike trainers his answer was ambiguous - 'we will probably let them in.' His point is that the games would be unaffordable without sponsors and they are investing huge sums of money, so they have to be protected.

The latest buzz is all around the perceived fiasco of the organisers’ appointed security firm, G4S, who admitted only this weekend that they could not deliver the agreed number of trained security staff and the army has been commandeered to make up the shortfall. Fingers are wagging furiously at the government minister responsible, Teresa May. How on earth could she not have known about the looming chaos?

There are surprises going on – you just have to have your nose to the ground to know about it, like American choreographer Elizabeth Streb’s series of acrobatic spectacles (only revealed online shortly before they occurred). A troupe clad in red performed on several of London’s landmarks – they danced, jumped and twirled off the London Eye, the Millennium Bridge, Trafalgar Square and the National Theatre.
See the pictures

Many national teams have already installed themselves around the U.K. and have been meeting school kids, running against the local talent and seem to be enjoying a new experience. A swimmer from Cameroon was excited about swimming in a 50m outdoor pool as there are no Olympic length pools back home - thankfully heated as the temperatures are not quite Sub-Saharan.

The Olympic torch has been travelling around U.K. for several weeks – with local and national heroes having been allowed to carry it and given their own torch to keep – but many of these have found their way onto Ebay.

There is endless irritation that you may not use the Olympic Rings symbol to show your support or enthusiasm unless you are an official sponsor – so an over enthusiastic butcher had his knuckles rapped.

Traffic info on twitterThe big question is – will it rain?  It has rained almost incessantly since April when England was declared in an official drought with watering restrictions imposed. The Environment Agency said recently that the deluges mean that the last three months have seen more rainfall than at any time since 1910 when the first readings were made; Wales has seen 17 inches fall during the time.  July 15th was St. Swithin’s Day, and according to the 1000 year-old legend, whatever weather you have on the day is what is coming up for the next 40 days.  As it was patchy across the UK the forecast is not too clear.  Wimbledon has a retractable roof, and many of the venues are covered but not the main stadium – it could mean a soaking for the athletes.

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