Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Olympics Anyone?

London 2012 - Artist's Impression

The shrouded Rings in St Pancras
The ticket sale process for the London Olympics in 2012 has begun. The Guardian reports today that the Olympic velodrome is complete. There is a shop in St Pancras Concourse selling memorabilia already (you can buy your own here if you really want); and last night a construction crew laboured in the wee small hours to hang an enormous set of Olympic Rings practically in front of my window. They haven't been unveiled yet - presumably a 'ceremony' will be held - but one of the workers told me what they were when I enquired rather anxiously about just how high that enormous blocking slab of canvas was going to be raised. I am frantic not to lose what little light I have coming in my windows. However, it seems that the maker of the enormous St Pancras clock that is below my garret is an Olympic sponsor, so eventually they won't be covering the clock face. *phew*

The new velodrome:
dubbed "The Pringle" because of it's roof shape
Still, all this Olympic-themed activity has turned my mind to the question of TICKETS. Those of you who have known me for some time may recall that during 'The Best Olympics Ever' - aka Sydney 2000 - I was the Ticket Queen. I scrounged for tickets through every available release - the cascading order form that took a PhD in Statistics to comprehend, the various ballots, competitions run by local businesses (got the Soccer Grand Final out of one of those), the ring-up-and-see-if-you have-won phone-in thingie (Men's Basketball Grand Final); and was still buying tickets during the Games themselves (Women's Handball, if I recall). Over a year and a half of determined concentration on the project saw me with a sheaf of tickets to almost everything (but only one Swimming and one Gymnastics, for all that effort - the luck of the draw). My family flew in from all corners, my house was full of people for two weeks, poring over schedules around the marmalade at breakfast, deciding who was going take which children and go and see what...then regrouping late at night to compare excited notes and watch Roy and HG do the same. Their gymnastics terms are the stuff of legend.

The good ole days

After mortgaging the first-born, I was at both the Opening and Closing ceremonies. North and South Korea marching in together. A roar for the New Zealanders almost as loud as that for the home team. Cathy lighting the flame. Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil singing; Yvonne Kenny singing (with a huge bogon moth brooch). Sydney was a benign and happy place in that pre-911 world; we all wore lanyards around our necks to hold our tickets and mimic the athletes; and took (efficient!) pubic transport everywhere. We learnt the finer points of Greco-Roman Wrestling and and were there when Eric the Eel hitched up his baggy Speedos and swam his 100 m heat alone after everyone else broke; when Svetlana the Gymnast fell on her bum because they hadn't lowered the vault horse from the Men's event (and all three little Eastern Europeans who won Gold, Silver and Bronze were disqualified for drinking coffee or something); and when the Women's Marathon contestant from the newly-born nation of East Timor fell on her knees, clasped her hands, and sent up a fervent prayer when she made it into the Stadium (only to have a sheepish official run over and point out that she had a lap tog go).

Lord Coe encouraging me to come along
Ah, it's moments like these that make an Olympics experience. And they are most likely when the Olympics is held in the city where you live -- and wait! The 2012 Olympics WILL be held in the city where I live! Clearly an opportunity not to be missed! Lord Sebastian Coe, the handsome chairman of the London organising committee, agrees.

The London Opening ceremony will be held on Friday 27th July 2012, presumably in balmy London summer weather. You can read all about it at the Official Site. You'll have to click through to see the logo they are using - there's no way this little black duck is going to risk reproducing the Olympic Rings, a fiercely protected trade mark. I have "registered my interest" in the Games and am sent the occasional email newsletter. I assume these will build to a frenzied torrent as July 2012 approaches. Meanwhile, I also have a booklet which lists all the tickets available. The Brits - somewhat spooked by the "empty stadium syndrome" of Beijing - have adopted a somewhat freer approach to ticket sales than the thicket through which I slashed my way for Sydney 2000. Joe Public is invited to apply for any tickets to anything, in a six week window of opportunity between 15 March and 26 April 2011. there are, in general,  four or five price categories. If events are oversubscribed, all applicants will be put into a ballot. There doesn't seem to be an option for 'cascading' down (or up) the price categories as we had in Sydney; which is simpler but eliminates some opportunity. It is claimed that 90% of the tickets cost less than £100 and prices start in all sports at £20. 

London 2012 branded - er, stuff - anyone?

I must consider the matter closely - and suggestions are welcome, especially if you have done this before or have a degree in Quantum Physics - but it seems to me that I should go for a nice mix of heats (less popular) and a big swag of finals (very popular so unlikely to get them, but maybe one or two will come through). Hmmm...even as I type that, it seems hopelessly unscientific. Then there is the question of applying for things on overlapping dates and times, to maximise chances, but needing a Plan B in the event (no pun intended) that that overlapping ones come through. Luckily I have a couple of months to nut this all out. I'm serious abut the suggestions. Anyone into on-line gambling? Blackjack? Waddaya think?

Melanie Farquhar and Emma Vickers (England)
My sports of interest - I dog-eared the pages of the guide over my morning coffee in Carluccio's - are: the Opening & Closing Ceremonies (price categories range widely and wildly: £2,012, £1,600, £995, £150 and £20.12 -- I assume the cheap seats, though adequate, will be sold out big time); Athletics; Basketball; Gymnastics; Hockey; Swimming (of course!!!!); Table Tennis (my brother Peter is a big fan); and maybe Weightlifting because it is so bizarre.

These events will all be grouped in and around the new Olympic Park at Stratford in East London. My chances of finding my way to a rowing, sailing or equestrian venue are a little dodgy; and as for the soccer -- wow, I'm not going near an English soccer crowd for love nor money. I considered Diving, but that was probably the most disappointing spectator sport in Sydney 2000 - moments of tense anticipation and then - whoosh! - you blink and you miss the actual dive. Better to see the underwater camera views on a big screen somewhere.

The venue building schedule seems to on track - at least, I haven't seen too much hand-wringing in the press. The main site is on 250 acres of derelict industrial land in the Lea Valley in East London (an Olympics building project is always a good way to reclaim mucky messed-up land - compare Homebush Bay in Sydney). I have noticed a squabble about which football team will take over the Stadium as its home after the Games are over, but sad to say I don't really concentrate on football stories. Life is too short. The Guardian reports today that the main Stadium is structurally complete with roof and 80,000 seats installed. Turf about to be laid. On target to be handed over before 15 July 2011, the date by which all sporting venues are due to be finished.

The London Olympic site in mid-2009

It is not often that you get a sports-relating post on this blog, but The Olympics are an exception. How exciting that they will be held in the city where I live! Although I may have to be of strong character when the Australians beat the Brits...what's that you say? Just a little friendly rivalry? I recall hearing an interview with one of the British organisers shortly after the bid was won. "And do you think British sports men and women can get up to world-beating standard by 2012?", the interviewer asked. "Oh, we don't have to do that", was the reply. "We just have to beat the Australians."

Let The Games begin.

Some images from:

1 comment:

  1. I have now put in a bid for some tickets, and can report that there is an option for 'cascading' down (or up) the price categories. We'll see....