Tuesday 15 March 2011

London 2012

Does anyone else have vivid memories of sitting in a school classroom watching a cartoon which involved animals competing in the olympics in preparation for the real Olympics being held in LA in 1984?

I was 7. I spent years trying to find someone else who remembered that cartoon - every time I asked I got blank looks until a few years ago when I asked the usual question and someone said yes, finally, and confirmed I'd not been imagining things.

For some reason it left a really big impression. I was only 7. I was a bit of a sprinter when I was younger, on teams and things before I got even skinnier and ended up being a long distance bunny for a bit. I ran 100 metres in 16 seconds when I was 10, much later, and chucked a javelin around a bit - I've loved athletics for a long time and the Olympic Games and its ideals for just as long.

I love the buzz skinny tyres make on track boards. I love the molecular displacement 'whoosh' as the peloton goes by. I love synchronised swimming, trampolining, gymnastics, mountain biking...I'm glued to the television every four years, to be honest.

So I'm quite narked right about now. Narked that 1.5 hours of diving, for example, will cost me and my partner £40. That there's little point in just going to London for the day and that by the time we've actually identified the events we want to see, we've racked up potentially thousands of pounds worth of tickets. And because most people will be applying for the cheaper tickets, we are unlikely to get any of them. So of course, the sensible thing to do would be to apply for 2 tickets at £200 and be guaranteed of getting them. But I don't want to just go and see one session for 1.5 hours and pay £200 for the privilege. Nothing, to me, is worth that much.

Not even considering the fact that payment will be taken out of my debit account for tickets the organisers wont deign to inform me I've been successful in applying for until some weeks later, not considering the potential for accidentally tipping into overdraft if things are not militarily planned for, not taking into consideration that the resell website wont be available until next year meaning if you actually get more tickets than you bargained for, you're going to be out of pocket for about 6 months and Visa are going to be earning interest on your not inconsiderable sums of money, not considering the nightmare of accommodation and the hideousness that I suspect will be transport, nor the advise for disabled people which amounts to...wait for it...leave home early - don't be surprised if you see a lot of empty seats at events just like in Beijing.

In fact I can honestly say after rummaging around the London 2012 site this evening that I will be shocked if there are not swathes of bare red seats glowing in front of the cameras next year.

We're in a recession. Thousands and thousands of people are about to be made redundant and they think they're going to get people committing to pay for tickets they might win but might not win but if they do win more than they bargained for will not be able to get the money back for 6 months?

I appreciate I don't live in London. I appreciate that strictly speaking I'm not the target audience for these games. But the games will never come back to this country in my lifetime. They just wont. It is, quite literally, the chance of a lifetime.

One I wont be taking part in in any way at all because the prices are ridiculous, one event is pointless to apply for when you take into account the £70 in petrol needed to get to London and the cost of accommodation, and you know, there go the dreams of the 7 year old me.

I made the mistake of believing the games would be for all.

They're for Londoners. If you're a Londoner you can pick n mix. If you're not, it's not worth it. Pop me in the gutted category. Because I really am.


  1. Add to that the fact that at lease a third of the country if not more won't be able to stream any events through the non existant broadband, and all that will happen is we will get what the tv companies consider interesting, along with their inane commentary...
    ... the fun bit will be when the networks start to fall over in office hours when people log in on their tea breaks.

  2. I know. I hadn't even thought about that but it is going to cause utter chaos. People are people - they'll be trying to keep a check on medal counts even if nothing else.
    And of course, the chances of me seeing anything of the trampolines, rhythmic gymnastics, archery, fencing, synchronised swimming?
    Zero judging by the last 4 Olympic games though the last one was mitigated somewhat by having a Sky box. But it was still a case of hunt the needle in the haystack thanks to the time difference.
    So cross. They've had a long time to think about and implement this, there's no excuse.

  3. Yup. Now you (as in, a general "you", not you personally cos I think you already saw it a long time ago) start to see why "The North" can get so disengaged from national events which are based at the other end of the country. God forbid you should be Scottish and want to go. I seriously thought about taking my 5yo daughter, who's v. keen on gymnastics, to an event when I first heard the UK was bidding. Then I heard where it was and gave up on the idea. As far as I'm concerned, the Olympics is a tax on the rest of the country to give London some sports facilities, and nothing more because we have no chance of engaging with it.

  4. I have to say I think this (like a lot of commentary on the Olympics) is overly negative.

    Yes its far too London centric. Yes the application process only accepting Visa cards is out of order.

    Maybe I'm being naive but I'm expecting tickets outside of the athletics and the events in which we are expecting to win medals not to be oversubscribed, and that is how I've made my application.

    The ticket prices are pretty reasonable when you look at what you are paying for. It's 1.5 hours of WORLD CLASS sport. Tickets start at under 20 quid, try seeing a football match for that, you won't get world class and in some places you won't even get league football.

    OK there is travel, but again there always is, events the whole world are interested in rarely take place in your living room after all. Look at it this way you've got about 500 days to save for all this. At least 365 days (in the first round) of post ticket notification to organize travel & such. It's going to cost 70 quid in petrol, who else is going down lift-share split costs, surely this is a chance for Social Media to shine, to help us organize & split costs, to get everyone involved who wants to be ?

  5. You're missing out one very important point. They're not a national games, they're the 2012 London games. As a non-Londoner I have no feelings towards them other than as a minor nuisance that will no doubt cause bother somehow.

    If it were the 2012 Glasgow games, then the Londoners would be getting upset (heck if they were in Birmingham, Londoners would probably get upset). You can't please everyone.

    Should probably add that I'm not passing comment on the lottery of ticket buying because I haven't seen anything about it. It seems remarkable that you won't know what tickets you have been allocated and have no choice but to purchase them if successful. There's got to be a better way.

  6. That cartoon you were thinking of was the Animalymics http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078780/.

  7. If it's any comfort, the ticketing approach doesn't look any more sane from London. Here is Diamond Geezer, who pretty much lives on the doorstep - http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2011/03/golden-tickets.html
    (and also http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2011/03/ten-more-olympic-ticket-tips.html and http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2011/02/ten-olympic-ticket-tips.html)

  8. Jane> it's online apparently ;O)
    Anon> I wish I'd never got excited.
    Andy> All fair points. However, I spent 6 hrs trying to work out the best way to spend 200 quid budget and failing. FWIW I think you'll be surprised at the rate 20 quid tickets go across all the ticket levels - see here for where I got my information - comment number 8 and subsequent from digitalscoobiedoo - I think he's talking sense.

    Instead what we're going to do is wait til the resell site goes up and see if we're lucky and if not we'll go see the free time trial road racing and that's it - and be happy with it. I got my hopes up - which is what this blog post is about. I'm a bit more realistic and a bit less naive now.