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London 2012 must get the ideas and the details right

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Adrian Warner | 11:19 UK time, Friday, 19 February 2010

I've been talking to Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell who has just finished her visit to Vancouver to see what lessons London can learn from the Winter Games before 2012.

After the hiccups at the opening ceremony involving the cauldron, she told me that London organisers have to make sure they carry out plenty of rehearsals before the big night - not just of the ceremony but also of the transport plans.

She also says London needs to keep things "simple" and, as she put it, "keep things British."

I think, she has hit the nail on the head as far as the Vancouver Games are concerned.


The Canadians have come up with some brilliant ideas, like the cauldron with the five flames representing the whole of Canada coming together for the Games.

The problem is that organisers don't seem to have thought through the detail.

Failing to build a high platform for the cauldron down at Vancouver's waterfront has meant police have been forced to put up fences around it to stop vandalism and that spectators can't get near it.

So after touching the emotion of Canadians all around the country with the longest torch relay ever, the locals have been kept away from the most powerful symbol of the Games.

Sometimes it's better to keep to the basics - a high cauldron which can be seen from everywhere and can't be vandalised easily.

The high ticket prices in Vancouver are also a sobering lesson for London.

Jowell says 2012 may have to have a few really expensive tickets for high profile events so that prices can be kept down for the rest of the Games.

But Vancouver has also taught London a lot, especially about taking the Olympic atmosphere to the streets with big TV screens and Olympic festivals in the city centre.

The main thing I will remember from the first week of these Games is the enthusiasm of Canadians for the Olympics - young and old alike.

Yes, I've seen demonstrations too, as I have reported in this blog. But I've also witnessed a real passion for the Games.

If the Brits can match that in 2012 and fill the arenas like Vancouver, we're in for a great Summer Games.

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  • Comment number 1.

    The london games need to keep coming back to the althletes and the ordinary spectator experience. I think it's good they're not trying to grandstand with superfluous infrastructure and the like. As I've commented recently, the Chinese really didn't get the 7 minute London slot at the Beijing closing ceremony. Where's the big acrobatic display? I'd like to hope London were giving a strong message about getting the Olympics back to grassroots - something that has maybe been lost in the brand, post Los Angeles.

  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Warner, Perhaps you can shed some light on the value to London and the UK of Harriet Harmans visit to Vancouver. Perhaps she can shower us with her pearls of wisdom in some visit report so that we might not be constrained to thinking that the limit of her advice is to "practice the opening ceremony". Gosh you have to be high up in the Labour party to realise that? I take it that she will be submitting an expense claim for a ski jacket. Don't they ever learn? Sods Olympic Law - the degree of success of the games is inversally proportional to the amount of MPs involved.

  • Comment number 3.

    How have you become a blogger on the BBC? You are very lucky!

  • Comment number 4.

    Passion for the games is exactly where Britain and London are going to fall flat on their faces. There is so much Olympic fatigue here that I fully anticipate an air of "right, let's get this over and done with" hanging over the games.

  • Comment number 5.

    From what i've seen and heard Vancouver is having a city wide party with all sorts of events that extend outside of sports, something for everyone. If London can replicate that, they're on to a winner.

  • Comment number 6.

    Go easy, Simon Sonic, you may do yourself an injury with such an ouburst! As a Brit living in Vancouver I would recommend there is masses London can learn from these games. And, I thoroughly agree that if the UK is able to emulate the 'City Party' acheived here then it will have done well.
    There is no doubting Vanoc made some errors (as have the press in their reporting, tbh) but this is an Olympics the people of Canada are loving.
    If we see Gold for the Canadian (ice) hockey team a week on Sunday then the party will last a long, long time.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear JohnB, I can tell you that if we won the Hockey Gold the party would go on even longer. There wouldn't be many people at the party mind you, but it would go on a long time! Sorry for your non Brit readers, Mr Warner, I got my Harriet Harmans mixed up with the countrys Tessa Jowells, different names but equally ineffective. Since they're both going to be out of a job shortly I suppose they're making the last efforts to leave some stamp of derisory influence on the world before they topple off their political pyre. However we'll still get the receipt for the ski jacket whoevers wearing it!

    As for Euloroo comments about the big acrobatic display, the Health and Safety Police were out in force and as there was an element of fun and enjoyment attached to it they stopped it immediately.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    As an American watching, I thought the opening ceremonies were wonderful. I loved the idea of focusing on Canada's past and present and its unique and distinct parts. The virtual floor worked well. It wasn't overdone to me, but entertaining enough to keep me watching. I felt bad for the torch glitch at the end. I've always considered the Canadians our sisters/brothers to the north. Glad you guys got some gold!

  • Comment number 10.

    As an ex-pat Brit living right in the heart of downtown Vancouver I yet again find me being shamed and embarrassed to admitting being British after reading reports like this.

    I can't wait for London 2012. Of course no-one in the world is offended by the UK or will have anything to protest about during that time as our medical system and housing situation is fantastic and our diplomacy with regard to other countries is second to none. Also I can't wait for low low cost of tickets, accommodation, food, transport and entertainment that London can provide just to shame Vancouver.....oh and unlike Vancouver, London is located in such a diversely beautiful country the way......all of the above is a true example of true Britisgh sarcasm too.

    Now BBC get your facts right.....the Olympic flame is big and beautiful and is located behind a chain link fence as it is in the middle of the media centre. Personally I don't care about protecting the worlds media but as you in the BBC probably do, then I would stop complaining and enjoy that fact. We in Vancouver don't worry about mindless vandalism like Londeners too because the people here are proud (yes I did say proud...true patriotic pride in the country they live in!!!) of their flame unlike the generation of yobs being raised in good old Britannia.

    On a more positive note..WELL DONE TO AMY for winning that gold. Despite all the negative British press/propaganda you managed to rise above it all and put in a performance you truly deserve. CONGRATULATIONS

  • Comment number 11.

    Your comment "locals have been kept away from the most powerful symbol of the Games" is grossly misleading at best and complete tosh at worst.

    I have never attended any other Olympic games but I feel sure that locals in those cities have been kept somewhat at bay from this most powerful of symbols both from the perspective of security and that of crowd control

    The fact is that it is visible to anyone that wants to go and look and completely photographable from any number of glorious downtown locations. Whilst you can't actually "reach out and touch it" I am sure it is at least as accessible as it will be when it makes it way to London in two years.

    A cauldron atop Nelson's Column would hardly be more accessible would it?

  • Comment number 12.

    Good article Mr Warner. You praise where they did well and point out how things could be done different with the benefit of hindsight.

    Hopefully a few more of your journalistic pack in Canada can do likewise.

    It's the most important lesson to learn for you lot. That if you're a bunch of rude oafs at somebody else's party, then you might find people pissing in your bathroom sink when you host them next Friday night......

  • Comment number 13.

    Quick fact for #8 - Canada's own the podium campaign costing $117 million has led to a whopping 8 medals so far! Now that is an impressive 14625000 of your hard earned Canadian Dollars per medal!

  • Comment number 14.

    If there is a desire to learn from the 2010 experience, please learn from the media coverage as well.

    NBC's coverage in the US (where I live as a British expat) has been truly AWFUL. I could understand if NBC wanted to show more of the events in which an American had a chance of a medal (which, unlike poor old blighty, is most of them), but there seems no rhyme nor reason to the absurd decision to not show or tape delay some popular events so that less popular ones can continue interrupted.

    NBC has 4 channels over which it can show various events, but they seem to be forgetting that people nowadays want media to work around them, not to have to fit themselves around what the media wants to show.

    I'm also personally sick to death of supposedly live events being liberally punctuated with human interest stories about what a hard upbringing a particular athlete had, or how supportive their parents were, or how they had to overcome a trauma of one form or another. It seems that NBC puts together a 90 second video about almost every single competitor. I'm sure many have had to overcome obstacles, but pulling together a contrived story about every single one does tend to devalue the genuine ones.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    It really is unfortunate that the British press have covered the Vancouver Olympic Games as if it has been a complete failure with the exception of the Canadian spirit at the venues. I truly feel like the British people, if only looking at the British press, are missing out on what makes the Olympics the Olympics.
    Granted, the luge accident was horrible, but never should it be exploited as a way to demean the Vancouver Olympic Committee. These organizers are people too, and never in their lives would they risk such a thing knowing that they are human beings also - they would never willingly put people in danger of death. To be impersonable as well, VANOC know the stakes are so high as the host of the Olympic games, why would they even risk it? The track may have been fast, but no one knew that such a tragedy would happen. The lugers death should not be used against the organizing committee. I understand how it can be used to point out the dangers of some of these olympic sports (particularly the Winter ones - luckily something the London Olympic committee will not have to contend with as much), but it should never be used to smear VANOC with a bad name while they are already incredibly saddened by this incident.
    As for the mentioning of the cauldron not raising properly during the Opening Ceremonies - VANOC had ensured they rehearsed the entire Opening Ceremonies four times in front of large crowds. No doubt, they also raised the cauldron prior to that. There were absolutely no TECHNOLOGICAL glitches in the rehearsal runs, and doing more rehearsals as Jowell suggests, would not necessarily prevent similar technological glitches from happening. Blaming VANOC for the hydrolic system failing to raise the cauldron properly is equivalent to blaming a person for their computer malfuctioning.
    The same thing can be said about the "Olympia" machines at the Oval not smoothing out the ice properly. If anything, credit should be given to VANOC for using environmentally friendly machines. Their failure could also not have been forseen, but VANOC immediately ordered Zambonis from Calgary to be brought to the Oval when these incidents happened, which I think reflects their effectiveness in finding solutions.
    Not only that, but I find this to be a gross misrepresentation (as others have said as well): "after touching the emotion of Canadians all around the country with the longest torch relay ever, the locals have been kept away from the most powerful symbol of the Games." Untrue. Of course there was a chain link fence in place. If anything, I would rather have it kept safe and untarnished. The suggestion of putting it on a higher platform is also an unqualified statement. Where do you suggest they put it? Vancouver is sea-level. If they want it at the waterfront area and where it is accessible to the throngs of people (including the media), that's the only place to put it. On top of a building it would remain unprotected, and how could Wayne Gretzky, the Greatest Hockey Player in the world, have lit the cauldron in the inspiring way that he did if it was on top of a building? Clearly, more thought goes into the placement of the cauldron than originally thought by Miss Jowell. Additionally, VANOC did make adjustments to the chain link fence - clearly acknowledging the desire to get closer to it (for a better picture...) They moved the fence closer and cut out part of it in the center so people could have a clear view of it. They also created a platform above it where everyone finds it completely accessible. So, the issue is over with, taken care of, and not even close to a valid concern anymore.
    The discussion of the ticket prices: I also say good luck to you London. I don't think you'll have much more luck with that. In general, however, the prime events were the most expensive here. If you made them anymore expensive, I would expect less people at your venues. Isn't that worse: risking a venue with empty seats and making it undeniably inaccessible to certain lower to middle class families when it is one of the most anticipated events? If I remember correctly, I believe VANOC was providing a certain amount of tickets to low-income families as well. In general, all venues have been full in Vancouver, and we broke Olympic hockey attendance records in just the first two days. Clearly, the prices are not THAT ridiculous by Olympic standards. In addition, there are FREE musical and cultural performances all across Whistler and Vancouver organized by VANOC, AND, tickets are $20.00 to get into the Medal Ceremonies, and equally as inexpensive to get into other venues, such as some skiing competitions.
    Yes, of course, any Olympics will have things to improve upon. In the ideal world, technological glitches would not happen and El Nino would not be occurring during an Olympic year. If the Vancouver Organizing Committee has been anything, I think it's been a really good example. If any weather or technological glitch arises that could never have been predicted, they deal with it promptly and in a professional manner.
    The fact that they have also been able to generate such a spirit out of so many Canadians, I think, is unprecedented. If anything, I thank them for that, because it has united our vast country, and they have supported are athletes in such a way that it inspires other Canadians, athlete or not, to be just as successful. As for the "Own the Podium" program, that is a program that actually funded our previously underfunded athletes. If anything, "Own the Podium" has been taken as face value, and not for what it actually is. Trust me, if anything, Canadians could care less how many medals we get. As long as our athletes do their best, we are proud. A fourth, fifth, or sixth place finish isn't less valuable to me than a Gold medal performance. These athletes are performing against the best in the world for goodness sakes!!!
    Gold for Men's and Women's hockey, however, is different. Ironically, these teams aren't supported by Own the Podium. Canadians just expect gold when it comes to hockey.
    To talk about the Olympics, not knowing how inspiring the Olympic spirit has been to Canadians and the athletes, and ignoring the hard work that VANOC has put in, is the one thing, if anything, that has tarnished the Olympics this year. It's unfortunate, that in the effort to succeed in the London 2012 Olympics, one must degrade the Olympics that comes before it.
    Congrats Britain, on your gold medal in women's skeleton. A deserving athlete. I also understand the British media does not accurately reflect the attitude of all the British. I only hope, that with the gold medal, the media will start being a bit more considerate. If not for VANOC or for Canada, do it out of respect for the athletes that are competing at these Olympics.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think a lot of comments here are missing the point. Vancouver 2010 is a winter Olympics, which is necessarily small fry compared to the huge effort of summer Olympics. It's easier to succeed in organising the winter games (weather permitting, snow is essential!) because they're smaller.

    I don't doubt that British delegates to Vancouver 2010 can learn something about how (and how not) to organise games but the'd be better advised to study Beijing 2008.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hey all,
    I definitely agree with some of the comments said about moaning about Vancouver. I think it is disgraceful a British delegation coming to the games as let’s not forget - GUESTS...criticising how the games are run and what Canada has done wrong. I think the Canadians have done a great job, and considering the adverse weather, even better!! We should give them credit for what they have achieved!
    Maybe our delegation should show a bit more respect to their hosts and follow the old saying...If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!! We would not like it if the Canadians did the same in 2012, would we?!
    I am sure we will have a brilliant games in 2012 and we will have great support!
    Am sure the majority of the world and the UK will agree...Vancouver, thank you for giving us a fantastic games! :)

  • Comment number 19.

    "Enthusiasm and a real passion for the Games."

    It's not going to happen in 2012 because Brits are a bunch of miserable, whiners! If they won the lottery jackpot they would complain that it wasn't enough! You only have to read how the British press have reported the Vancouver games to get a foretaste of what is to come in 2012. Nothing like a bit of self flagellation.

  • Comment number 20.

    Flanders2, don't waste your time reading the miserable, whinging British media. Try, say, the Montreal Gazette (

    Now, at risk of taking the bait, I'd like to explore some of Steve's (No.8) comments about the London games, based on some quick google searches:

    1. "'Keep things British' meaning a rainy, foggy, indebted, underworked opening ceremony." From my experience I'd have to concur with Wiki: "London is a relatively dry city with regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year" ( There has been virtually no visible smog since the 1960s and not sure what an "indebted" and "underworked" ceremony would entail? London has a fair bit of experience in putting on stage shows.

    2. "London being one of the most expensive cities to live in or visit, on the planet". Hmmm, on the latest figures it features at No. 16 so not sure where you get that idea from (

    3. "the luger who tragically perished, and who is being so maliciously used by the British papers as a prop" This is a tricky one as the organisers are a bit damned if you do, damned if you don't. There doesn’t seem to be any argument that the slider was in error in leaving the track. I'm no expert on luge but as a highway engineer, the standards dictate a safety zone, free from trees, lamp posts etc., several metres beyond the edge of high speed roads and if that can't be achieved guard rail is installed around obstacles.

    3. "Britain (in fact the BBC alone) has more reporters at the Games than actual athletes" Bit of a vacuous point. Most British are happy to except that a low lying, temperate country will not excel in winter sports. I think its great that the British people are huge fans of all sports and not just ones they do well in. A the Olympics there are usually more reporters than competitors and of course, many British commentators such as Adrian have a wider remit than sports because of the upcoming London Games.

    4. "The 2012 London Games are already $1.8 billion in debt". Not sure what your source is for this. I understand that the London games is on target for its £9.3 billion budget, regardsless of whether you think it's money well spent or not.

    5. "The gold medal Williams just won was the first win in a winter olympic event since 1980 where a brit got gold". Notwithstanding my previous point, didn't the British women win the Curling in 2002?

  • Comment number 21.

    I've got a funny feeling that the British press is trying to create a negative athmosphere around the Vancouver games for a reason: once the 2012 games fail miserably (just my personal view, having lived and worked in UK and London for 9 past years), at least the British media can point out that 'the previous games weren't that great either'. There's no way London can match the Beijing games (this will be brushed aside by blaming the global recession) so they are desperately trying to generate some other favourable point of comparison.

    I think the main problem with the 2012 games will be the lack of public support. After all, the main reason why most of the people who backed the bid when the race was on did so just to try to beat the French in the competition. And the logo really is a taste of things to come...

  • Comment number 22.

    All the canadians posting here should know, the media is bad mouthing the Vancouver games, but that doesn't mean the people in the UK are. Most i've talked to are loving them, even those who don't usually watch sports are enjoying them.

    Let's give Canada a round of applause for a fantastic games.
    Also, in response to #21 I'd love to know where you have the idea of the lack of 2012 support, most are looking forward to them and are excited, even now over 2 years away.

  • Comment number 23.

    The single worst thing about the Vancouver Olympics (besides the judging controversy; the failure to fairly score Evgenii Plyushchenko's performance is really & truly egregious -- just have a look at the tape of the event a few times) has been, of course, the death of the Georgian luger.

    The insanely convoluted luge track, marred by obviously missing higher protective walls and padded barriers & landing mats for the utterly predictable variable of a potential mishap, shows that funding was misspent, designers were excessively sanguine, athletes and experts in the sport were not consulted and IOC officials were paying attention to the wrong things.

    No one should die or become incapacitated for life as a result of taking part in an international sports event.

    Last fall, there was a terrible mistake by a judging official in Munich in which a Russian athlete, a young woman, nearly lost her life on a bobsleigh track. She was grievously wounded and is lucky to have survived, although she will be disabled for the rest of her life. This occurrence received barely any mention in Western media, even though it transpired on a state-of-the-art Western track. It should have set off alarm bells, certainly in the IOC.

    While there seems to be no way to contain the jingoism that mars Olympic competitions, giving rise to all kinds of nationalist excess & ultimately even vendettas amongst teams who get embroiled in unfortunate controversies or dumb rivalries, I would certainly emphasise that the London Olympics must be safe, first and foremost. If no one is injured in any way, consider that a success.

    I am sure few will support my recommendation that the IOC adopt some rules for the future to tame down the nationalism of the teams, e.g. limit the size of flags which may be waved (by athletes or spectators), keep the anthems to a very brief 20 seconds and perhaps even some day dispense with the "national team" uniforms in favour of a single design for all participants in a single Olympics -- but I would hazard to say that many are as sick as I am of the extreme patriotic zeal that has begun to taint these proceedings ever since the Berlin Olympics over which Hitler presided.

    Surely fanning the flames of chauvinism was not Coubertin's purpose.

    Someday, perhaps athletes will be allowed to pick their own personal, non-political musical favourite to play as they receive the medals. It's not as if we don't know -- or can't find out -- who comes from what country, after all.

  • Comment number 24.

    Gosh, don't they all look happy - I'd smile too if I was on a jolly in Vancouver. I wish London well in holding the Olympics and I am sure it will be wonderful for them - all those nice new venues. I can't see how it will benifit me, being well north of the Watford Gap, and I certainly can't see myself travelling down there.

  • Comment number 25.

    I've loved the games and I think Vancouver's done a great job. Well done. I would ignore what the British press say, they are known for their cynical and negative reporting, unfortunately they have to be in order to survive - which probably won't be much longer given the way the print media is declining.

    Just on a couple of the other 'interesting' points raised - Amy Williams' gold medal was not our first since 1980. We won women's curling in 2002 and Torvill and Dean won in 1984. Not a great return but not bad either - and T&D's performance was arguably the greatest ice skating performance in history.

    The British public are incredibly excited about hosting the olympics - at least the people I have spoken to. The majority of people I speak to plan to attend at least some of the events and I plan to attend as many events as I can!!! And don't forget over 80% of the population watched the summer olympics in Beijing - that's definitely not what I would describe as lack of interest.

    Anyway try not to take what the press say personally. Good luck with the rest of the games!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I cant see any other reason for caring what the British press say about a winter Olympics event. Especially when other nations and canadian newspapers are running similar critical analysis. Nations that are much more knowledgeable of the logistical problems involved in running a winter olympics.

    The obvious answer to me is that it deflects criticism from local newspapers and reporters. The best way it seems is to blame it all on the old colonial nemesis. What better way to gel everyone together against the common enemy. Something that a recent vancouver reporter has touched upon.

    The article from the Guardian that caused a lot of ire was written by a golf correspondent for crying out loud. So Canada unites under a banner of jingoistic hatred of the generic British press and forgets about any troubles they had.

    What can we as a nation learn from this? Not very much really except not to stick our oar in where its not wanted especially prior to an Olympics of our own where there will be no doubt no shortage of criticism from our beloved "newspapers". Only problem is who do we get to blame it all on? My money is on the French.

    P.S We could learn not to make a mascot that looks like pedobear, that would be nice.

  • Comment number 27.

    You Canadians are a bit touchy aren't ya

  • Comment number 28.

    As a Brit (more Manx actually) living in Canada I can say that I`m thorougly enjoying the Olympics, yes there`s been a few `mistakes` but isn`t hindsight a wonderful thing. I hope the British can be as passionate and proud about the 2012 games as the Canadians have been.

    A couple of observations: British press is well known for being incredibly negative and judgemental. Canadians, as lovely as they are, are generally sensitive people. Not a good mix eh?

  • Comment number 29.

    And don't forget you'll need a team to deal with the bashing you have coming from the Canadian press... what goes around, comes around.

  • Comment number 30.

    Absolutely in the mire but we can find billions to pay for a month of sport.

    An absolute outrage before this - now it's simply indefensible.

  • Comment number 31.

    And how many banks will be 'sponsoring' them?

    Shocking, truly shocking.

    Pull it.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've read this article three time just to make sure I'm not missing anything. Please will someone explain to me how this rather innocuous article, ('negative and judgemental' are we reading the same thing? - how about 'But Vancouver has also taught London a lot') which is far more positive about the Canadian Games than negative, has managed to receive such Brit bashing responses from so many Canadians and ex pats?

  • Comment number 33.

    Adrian - can you comment on why the BBC are giving such pitiful coverage to the Winter Paralympic Games?

  • Comment number 34.

    @Proud Brit in Beauiful Canada

    "yes there`s been a few `mistakes` but isn`t hindsight a wonderful thing."

    Yeah a man died, but what the hell, eh?

  • Comment number 35.

    Calm down everyone. Tessa Jowell had to go and doubtless learned a lot. It's not her fault that the media only picked up on some obvious things. It's probably not the journalist's fault either - the media these days is abrupt and confrontational. The bottom line is that Canada has done well and the UK probably will too. There'll be mean-minded reporters and commentators no doubt, but they matter only if you want them to. And who in their right mind would? Ask the athletes what they think. They've worked hardest and their views are what's important. The olympic spirit lives and long may it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Dear Canadians, in particular Canadian88,

    I watch the BBC news every morning, evening, read the Times newspaper and I have read more anti Canadian sentiment in Canadian88's article than anywhere else put together. Are you all in the habit of pushing a self destruct button or is there some Canadian tabloid paper that is reporting that the British press are ripping everything apart. I haven't gone around with my head in a paper sack for the last few days but these comments are not replicated at home (UK).

    I think that you better stop whinging about the UK Press and take a look at your own Montreal Gazette, again I find more anti Canadian sentiment there than I have come across in the whole of the UK press in the UK, as opposed to what it appears that some elements of the world press think that the UK press are saying.

    Frankly who cares if the cauldron went wrong, if there was never any aspiration to do anything new, wacky, inventive, or different in any way we would still be living in caves. The one thing that all opening ceremonies have in common, and 2012 will be no different is that they are far too long and pretty boring, sorry can't comment on the recent one, didn't watch it.

    Thank you Canadians for your gracious congratulations on the achievements of Amy, we all like a winner, or should that be a competitor, after all there is the ethos of sport for all and encouraging everyone to take part. Now there's a thought - what happened to our National Ski Jumping Champion, Eddie?

    So I'd like to congratulate Canada on making some mistakes and getting somethings wrong what ever they were. If they didn't it would be dull, unadventurous and two weeks of tedium. To never make mistakes is to never aspire to win or succeed.

    Frank Dick wrote a brilliant book called "Winning" in which, amongst others, he describes coaching Daley Thompson to Olympic success. In that book he quotes many successful business and sporting legends, one of which, an American football coach (I believe from memory - and I've probably not got the quote word perfect but so what?) who said:

    " A man shows much of his character when he's winning, he shows all of it when he's losing".

    Food for thought.

  • Comment number 37.

    After the sad news of the Georgian athlete passing away just a day before the opening ceremony i thought it would cast a shaddow over the whole olympics. But the IOC respectfully paid their condolences to his family, team-mates and fellow country men and women which was truely inspiring as a young person watching these events unfold. But even after this unfortunate incident Canada and the powers that be came back and so far the games have taken over my life and my studies have completely halted. As the old addige goes: "The show must go on"
    I watched the opening ceremony in complete awe that early morning. I had been waiting for months for the olyimpics to start as i am a keen follower of winter sports and i felt that they way the Canadiens celebrated their heritage was absolutely brilliant. So what if 1 of the pilons did not rise; in no way at all does it take anything from how the rest of the night went. The media is so fast to pull something down it would be nice for once if they could see something for what it really is, a celebration of the worlds finest athletes and the beautiful country of Canada celebrating its wonderfully diverse culture, instead of nit picking at the tiny thing that have gone wrong.
    I for one am 100% excited for London 2012 especially as i have put my name down to volunteer. Since i was young i have wanted a sporting event like this in my country so that i can feel that complete sense of pride that other nations have felt. Ive watched it in Sydney and Athens And then Beijing came along and blew everyones minds wether they love sports or not. London 2012 will not be like the spectacle that was Beijing but it will be the best moment of my life so far to see the Olympic torch lit in the capital city (Unless England win the world cup on South Africa...fingeres crossed).
    Forget the hype about money, forget the politicians, forget the media..... embrace what is coming London's way, we can make or break these games as the public don't let the pessimists spoil the party for the rest of the country!

  • Comment number 38.

    @Taxdodgingstudent: "it would be nice for once if they could see something for what it really is... Canada celebrating its wonderfully diverse culture"

    I'm no expert in Canadian culture and history but I understand that BC is known for being strongly anti-francophone. So that fact that the only reference to Quebec in the opening ceremony was to a Scottish historical link was seen as a bit of a kick in the teeth to many francophones. I guess this highlights the problem of trying to give the nod to everybody.

    But going back to Adrian's blog, I'm intrigued to know what Tessa Jowell is inferring when she wants to "keep things British" especially since she has openly acknowledged the Millennium Dome debacle. The Dome was of course built on time and under budget and has had a good legacy (albeit delayed). The problem with it was the original content which had New Labour written all over it and was blatant in keeping out any reference to British history and heritage. I therefore sincerely Tessa's "keeping it simple" means leaving the organising to LOCOG and keeping her sticky fingers out of it.

  • Comment number 39.

    I would like to say how nice it is to be living back in a country where we have truly free media (Just spent 2 years living in Canada) meaning that we report what we see and are not part of a huge proeganda machine!

    For the whole 2 years spent in Canada 1 in BC I found the hype truly funny, slogans like 'own the podium' and every other advert was meet your Canadian athlete's, First gold on Canadian soil. This is all very well but it just became boring. It seems that this served to whip the general public up in to a frenzy and dare anyone question this and you will face a wave of immature name calling from Canadians (check out the CBC and read some of the offensive childish remarks left by the great Canadian public about the UK, Most of which are nothing more than lie's).

    The death of the Luger was tragic, And crashes do occur in that sport and it was nothing to do with the track. Except that he hit a metal pole and the organisers were so sure the track was safe that they have had to drastically alter it several times! The operation was a success but the patient died.

    I also think that Canada have forgetten the essence of being the host nation, It means that you are only a host for the rest of the world, Not a bunch of blood thirsty lunatics that only care how many Gold medals the home nation wins. And considering the amount of money spent on the games and being protectionist about tracks and venues Canada are hardly owning the podium are they?

    As for our turn in 2012 I'm certain the games will be a success they're being hosted in a city that has true global relavance, The facilities look good but I do agree that public interest in the UK will not be great but then we have bigger fish to fry really, ie Rugby World cup in 2015 and the football world cup in 2018 to name just a couple of Global events we will host.

    Fianlly at the risk of rising to the under developed humour of younher Canadian cousins I've heard that people of London are underworked if you mean that we do 1 job, get paid, live our life and support our families as opposed to working a job at Mcdonalds in the morning and Tim Hortons in the Afternoon then Canadian Tire in the evening you'll find that most civilised societys operate this way. If it is an insinuation that we are all out of work a simple google search will reveal that Canada's unemployment rate is far higher than that of the UK.

    Fianlly I dont see why the Canadians are attacking our prees when the pretty much the whole world were slating the games maybe its because they don't suffer quite so much of an inferiorty complex towards anyone else!

  • Comment number 40.

    One issue London may need to address would be how to make it a truly national game. 2010 are definitely the "Vancouver" games; not the BC or Canada games. And I'm not sure they tried. Beyond the torch relay and request for financial aid from the other provinces, there wasn't much done to incorporate the rest of the country. On the other hand, given the size of Canada, what can you do? In the interior of BC, there is, of course, pride in how our athletes our done, but no one is referring to 2010 as "our games" (except for when the media implores us to do so). Instead, the main conversation is about who is going to have to bail Vancouver out after games - and it better be Vancouver, not us. They want to reap the benefits for themselves, then they should bear the costs by thamselves.

  • Comment number 41.

    @St George (#39)

    As a Canadian, I too would like to say how nice it is that you have returned to England.

    To your countrymen and women, the overwhelming number of whom are friendly, good-natured, positive, and ideal guests, come on over anytime. You'll have a great time, and we'll be happy to have you!

    But please, leave that moany old aunt St. George at home.

  • Comment number 42.

    You'll soon understand how little input London will have on the games.

    Though the IOC uses the acronym VANOC, Vancouver (and Canada for that matter) has such little control, over the IOC's desired plans, it's not funny.

    The fence around the cauldron has since been replaced with Plexiglass and there is also a high viewing platform for photography.

    But companies in Canada had to meet very strict RFP standards, as detailed by the IOC, and were pretty much just told what the IOC wanted to do. Host city or not, nobody REALLY had any input into the design and execution of the games at all, other than cowtowing to the IOC.

  • Comment number 43.

    42. darkhorse....I don't know where you got your information from, but you are inaccurate in both the points you make. Vanoc had a huge amount of input and decision making in organising this Olympic Games, but of course there are numerous things that the IOC have a say on too. it would be ridiculous if every games started from scratch, talk about re-inventing the wheel??
    Secondly, there is no plexiglass replacement of the fence. It has been moved closer and an area has been cut away for better viewing.
    I guess you can just make stuff up and post it on the internet.

    The games have been a huge success so far, and if you look closely at any highly complicated event, then of course there will be glitches and unforeseen circumstances that require solutions, and VANOC has done a good job at this, as well as doing a super job of organising.
    Before anyone in Britain gets ahead of themselves, I think you all should remember the Millenium Dome......

  • Comment number 44.

    It's hard to put a price on the increased morale, sense of pride and unifying goodwill that the Olympics has brought to Vancouver. Tens of thousands of people are celebrating the streets of Vancouver and Whistler each day, and the feeling is electric. Best of luck in 2012. Enjoy the ride!

  • Comment number 45.

    Time to move on; all the negativity from the British press made the headlines for 1 day. I don’t even know if the British coverage has remained that negative since but believe me it is not what Canadians are thinking about—we’re having too much of a blast enjoying these fantastic Olympics.

    And despite what some are saying on here, the British press was by far the most negative press in the world where just about every major newspaper, except for the BBC, was slamming the Olympics even to the point of the Guardian hysterically calling them the worst ever.

    Perhaps it shouldn’t have been on the bottom of Adrian’s blog but by far the best thing that Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell would have learned from her trip is just how great the “taking the Olympics to the streets is working”. This is the most festival-like Olympics ever and it will set a new standard.

    The British press and people are missing a golden opportunity to relish in some Olympic goodwill that could have given your 2012 games a nice jolt of inspiration. But hopefully they will still be fantastic games anyway.

    Good fortune on your games UK.

  • Comment number 46.


    "The British Press was by far the most negative press in the world"

    I don't think so, perhaps you should read Pravda, (Which incidentally for those who don't know, is Russian for "The Truth"!!!!). OK now lets see some pearlers from their editorial:

    ""Vancover is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics"
    "..., the utter incapacity of this country (Canada) to host a major international event"
    that the above is due "to an inferiority complex"
    "Vancover is mutton dressed as lamb"
    "Take off the outer veneer (of Vancover) the stench is horrific"

    Unless you watched the opening ceremony or read Mr Warners blog then 99.99% of the UK population are blissfully unaware of anything ever going wrong.

    I'd hate to think what would happen if the British press really did decide to cut into the Vancouver Olympics, but they haven't.

    For those Canadians who don't believe this make a note to watch the BBCs reporting of the Sochi 2014 games. Now this should be good for a laugh since the good old beeb has started having a go at Olga Medvedtseva.

    Congratulations Canada in being fourth in the medals table as of today, GB are 16th ahead of Italy, bizarre as they have an Alpine region and winter tourist industry of their own.

    But who's got gold in the whining leagues, there's only one winner.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ex-pat here...Does anybody listen to the British press anyway??? You really have to take their words a grain of salt.
    Sure they may be blasting us but you know what I as a Vancouverite am loving what the organizers have done. The atmosphere is electric like never before. Sure we hit some glitches and tragedies but you know life happens and some things may not be avoidable but every measure is taken to ensure it doesn't happen in the first place and when it does its rectified. Some people forget that we hit a recession…hello??? Winter sports cost loads more money than summer sports and sure if Britain can do better then go for it. But you know what we in Canada have a huge country and for Canada(ians) to come together its amazing. We have our differences –just like everybody else but those are to be cherished. I love the fact we are bi-lingual and that sets us a part. I love the beauty I see everyday in Vancouver…and that is worth more than grotty old brick buildings that are covered with soot.
    I have fabulous pictures of the cauldron even with the fence in its original spot and sure the queues are huge but I make a choice as to what I want to see. Things are free for all people including the visitors who are more than welcome here. Check out the zip-track or the outdoor skating at Robson Square! Check out all the free concerts.
    We have a diverse, multi-cultural city…and no where can you get the world on one street – Commercial Drive! And we have Bard on the Beach, where can you get a stage with the mountains as a glorious backdrop?
    Don’t get me wrong I love London too, but how can you beat the city in surrounded by mountains, the water and Islands? The Olympics weren’t wanted by everyone but in the end everyone and made it electric.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ Suki your comment " and that is worth more than grotty old brick buildings that are covered with soot" LOL did you just wake up in the early 1900's ?

    Personally I think Vancouver have done a great job. I have enjoyed the games immensely . Ignore the British press, the 'red tops' are the lowest of the low, BBC have provided a great coverage. And I'm sure most of the British public think Canada have done a good job

  • Comment number 49.

    Simon Sonic,

    So you find some quotes in the Pravda to back up your claim. Perhaps you feel that is okay because their name means “Truth” in Russian. I’m sure you could have found quotes in the North Korean press as well.

    How about some quotes form the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.

    "I have never seen a city embrace the Games as Vancouver has done, it's really been astounding," he told a small group of reporters.

    "I would say Sydney comes at the same level, but you cannot compare Summer and Winter Games. What we have seen here, in the streets of Vancouver, is absolutely extraordinary."

    Jacques Rogge said he's been told the Vancouver and Whistler villages are the best people have ever seen.

    He declared the Vancouver site was "wonderful.''

    "Everything that I have seen is really outstanding,'' he said, before heading off to his own room at the village.

    Quite the divide of opinion. Should we trust the Pravda and the British tabloids or do we trust Jacques Rogge and the overwhelming majority of positive stories that has been in the Western media about the Olympics?

  • Comment number 50.


    I think that you may have missed Simon Sonic's point. He isn't holding up Pravda as an example of the truth about the Vancouver Olympics, but as a counter to your point about the British press being the most negative. I think you may have unwittingly confirmed the point he made in his final paragraph.

    Canadians need to be less defensive - the media in Britain has been very positive for the vast majority of the time, and everybody I know in the UK are really enjoying the Vancouver games. Stop thinking that everybody has it in for you. Wait until the British media rip into the 2012 games - nobody does self deprecation like the Brits. 2012 could be reported as brilliant around the world, but the UK red tops will tell every Brit that it's a disgrace. It's just what they do.

    Oh, and please ignore all negativity from some British expats in Canada. I personally know 2 types of expat (I've lived around the world) - those who move because they want to go to a new place, and those who move because they want to escape from an old one. The former are usually more realistic, and realise that every place in the world has its pros and cons, so different places suit different people - there is very rarely a 'wrong' place to live, just the wrong type of person for a place. The latter type of expat is convinced that if they don't like their home country, then nobody else can too. They seem to have to justify their move to themselves, by trying to convince people to be as negative as they are. Sure the UK has its problems. So does every country I've been to. Some of the countries I've been to with the least problems I could never live in, while other 'bad' countries have really appealed.

  • Comment number 51.

    I have just spent my lunch hour reading all the comments and while I agree that we Canadians are a sensitive bunch, I had completely forgotten about the article in The Guardian. I think most of us here in the Vancouver area (The Great Soggy North) are too busy with the party to pay much attention. I have to say that the build-up to the Games was pretty ho-hum until the Olympic Torch made it's way through the region a mere few days before the opening ceremony. I saw sceptics go out to see it and come back with real pride. And this is after seeing some Joe or Josephine Public with the torch - not a Gretzky.
    I have no doubt that Londoners will turn out for their Games as we have for this one. I can't compare these Winter Games to a World Cup, but you can't beat the variety of people and events. We watch the Olympics every night on TV for at least a couple of hours. We were Downtown last Saturday and we're going back down again tomorrow, rain or shine. Okay, rain.

  • Comment number 52.

    The coverage by the British media of these games has been a disgrace. Why are there 100s of them there to watch a few British athletes with little chance of winning a medal? How many are there from the tax supported BBC? Did they expect a Torvill and Dean comeback? If there is any Olympics that is virtually guaraanteed to be an actual disaster it will be those in London.

  • Comment number 53.

    With respect to the tragic death of the luge athlete from Georgia, headlines are overshadowing facts. Here is an article from the website of one of the Official Sponsors of the Vancouver Olympics. The headline says "Marketing trumped safety in Olympic luge track design: engineer". If you read the article, he actually says that the current location of the track was picked for marketing reasons, which resulted in a steeper and faster track than initially designed. He signed off on it and the sporting federations signed off on it. No surprise then that the Olympic committee also signed off on it after the design engineer and the officials responsible for the sport had no objections. Note also that the engineer of this track has been designing them for 40 years and this is his fifth Olympic track. He is also designing the track for Sochi.

    The upshot is that this is a dangerous sport. You can try to itigate the risk but you ca never eliminate it. Any normal person would think twice before trying the luge. Only a few are brave enough and some will get injured. It is inevitable that some will die. Is it a waste of a life to die while playing a sport? Perhaps. But athletes all over the world seem to think that the risk is worth taking.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yo britt press, Canadiens love you regardless, what an amazing country, slash LONDON will be so amazing!!!!!! Canada and Me loves you as does the rest of Canada, Congrats and good luck!!!!
    Jay From Canada

  • Comment number 55.

    Just to clarify, there was over 5,000 runs before that gorgeian guy raced, just a heads up

  • Comment number 56.

    Alright, What do you all expect??? Simon Sonic? Dude, England Olympics is gonna be rediculous. coming from a person who has lived in olympic terretory, no offense. your country is welcome here anytime but you have to ask!!!!?? love you britss!!!

  • Comment number 57.

    British newspapers believe that bad news sells, whereas good news doesnt, hence the negative reporting. There is an enormous store of goodwill towards Canadians from the "Brit in the street" and people interested in sport are enjoying the winter games. Congratulations to Canada on a fantastic haul of medals - you deserve it.
    The London 2012 games will be a success and Brits will be just as keen and supportive of them as Canadians have been of Vancouver.
    Some things at 2012 will go wrong and the British tabloids will report the failures gleefully. As I said - British tabloids are interested in selling papers - nothing else.

  • Comment number 58.

    @1234A quote " 52. At 10:48pm on 26 Feb 2010, 1234A wrote:

    The coverage by the British media of these games has been a disgrace. Why are there 100s of them there to watch a few British athletes with little chance of winning a medal? How many are there from the tax supported BBC? Did they expect a Torvill and Dean comeback? If there is any Olympics that is virtually guaraanteed to be an actual disaster it will be those in London. "

    What on earth are you talking about? the coverage has been very good , are you saying BBC should not cover it because we are not an alpine nation and don't win so many medals? Well in that case forget coverage of the football world cup.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the BBC coverage, and well done to Canada for a good show. I don't watch just to see GBR, I watch for the the enjoyment of sport .

  • Comment number 59.

    I am truly sick and tired of British writers highlighting the 'hiccups' of the Vancouver games? Seriously, still obsessing on a cauldron not rising? Did you see the rest of the opening ceremonies? And London rains just as much as Vancouver. Perhaps the rest of the world should be just as catty about London if it rains massively there. AND - keep the Olympics as simple as you want, things can still happen, this is a MAJOR sporting event to pull off so tons of rooms for 'hiccups', and we'll see if the notoriously cranky English will come together in spirit the same was as the Canadians did during these games, rally together, and truly celebrate across the nation

  • Comment number 60.

    What an unbelievable games for Canada and what a fairy tale ending--I'm speechless. The messages I wrote earlier about the British press seem so very trite now. Yes the British press overreacted in the beginning and .001% of Canadians overreacted to the British press which shamefully I was a part of. Good luck with your games UK and I truly hope they go as well for you as ours went for us. Vancouver/Whistler/BC/all of Canada weaved an absolutely magical games. I didn't really intend to get caught in these Olympics--thankfully that didn't work out.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ iloveit123

    Please don't associate the British public with the British red top gutter press ,I feel it is unfair to be accused as cranky just because of the press. Your doing exactly what you complaining about.

    Your games have bee absolutely outstanding , and I think most of my fellow countrymen would agree. What a great spectacle and a proud ending with the hockey win . Good show Canada

  • Comment number 62.

    @ keith, maybe you have learnt that The British public are not that influenced by the newspapers.

    The BBC has done your country proud with the coverage, and it wasn't just for us (1 Medal) it was the spectacle.

    Be proud of your nation. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Thank you for you good wishes for 2012, if we do half a good job as Canada then we would have done well. the closing ceremony was outstanding, humour , self humility and grace, and pride, it had the lot.

  • Comment number 63.

    Having been in Vancouver for most of the games and now back in England, I can say that I saw more success than mistakes, a country that really embraced the games. Vancouver was such a welcoming city. You can never get lost there. Just stand with a map and within seconds the locals (they get there before the volunteers) will ask if you need help. Transport worked very well. London's transport will be harder though with more events and more people at some of the events I expect as the stadiums will be bigger.

    How many places in the world, as you leave an airport do the staff who collect the trolleys come up to you and shake your hand and say "Thank you for coming to my city". Was my trip perfect, no, not everything went well but not everything can with so many elements of such a trip to organise, but as I landed in London and got the polite but unfriendly staff of LHR my mind cast back to the guy in Vancouver airport. I hope in 2012 London and we the Brits can bring some of that friendship I saw in Vancouver.

  • Comment number 64.

    My word I'm getting so tired of the British whinging.

    If you don't want the Games in London then ignore them and stop trying to bring down the majority of Brits who are excited about it.

    Stay in and moan on BBC for the whole of 2012 if it makes you feel better but just because you have a poor outlook and downbeat attitude doesn't mean that everyone needs to listen to your doom and gloom.

    Lighten up or move on to something that doesn't annoy you so much

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with flyinghurdler2 that there are so many people here in Britain, whining too much about the games coming up in 2012. For the rest of us, excited that this will be a once in a lifeline chance of having the summer olympic games on home soil, it is something to look forward to and be proud of.

    Since I watched my first olympic games in Barcelona 1992, I always thought what it would be like to have the games in London and now we have it in two years! I, like many people, are hoping that we can make our games something to remember and be proud of, promting me to sign up as a volunteer.

    These good times don't always come very often, but when they do, it creates a great atmosphere around the country. Just like the Queen's Golden Jubilee back in 2002, the whole country became united for that celebration and 2012 will be a double national celebration with the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 games. Those times are memeories that we can look back on and smile with fondness.

    We Brits can put on a great 2012 games and if we can get the ideas and detals right, we are going to have one hell of a great summer in 2012!


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