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Was 2010 a good year for London 2012?

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Roger Mosey | 15:30 UK time, Sunday, 19 December 2010

I'm not going to fight the inevitability that this time of year is about looking back and looking forward - so this is the first of two seasonal posts, written while looking out at truckloads of snow in my part of London. And it's based on what I said a year ago about the milestones we could expect to pass in 2010. So how did we do on the seven things I identified then?

Top of the agenda was the Winter Olympics, and I'm firmly in the ranks of those who thought Vancouver did a great job. Main lesson: it's not necessarily the big things that cause you problems but a succession of smaller ones, and what happens then is a challenge in reputation management. We discussed this here at the time and in the superheated digital world it's remarkable how an outburst of criticism in one country can become a common global currency. London 2012 can now see the trap if it misfires in any of its organisation.

Which leads into the crucial second milestone for 2010: the announcement of the London ceremonies' creative team. This was achieved on schedule, and it's difficult to see how it could be beaten for its array of talent. So the foundations are in place, but the real job starts now.

Wenlock and Mandeville the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots

The launch of the 2012 mascots caused much debate on this blog. Photo: Getty Images

Then my number three of a year ago was the World Cup, and particularly how people used digital media. A clear answer here: consumers want the flexibility and choice offered by new services in massively growing numbers. My colleague Lewis Wiltshire put up this post about the way records were being beaten and we learned a lot about honing our web services and showing the benefits of innovation. Our conclusion is that keeping up the pace isn't just a "nice to have" for 2012: it's essential if audiences are to get what they want from the Olympics.

Number four was the Commonwealth Games, which made less impact - though again in reputation management we can see how Delhi struggled to pluck respectability from looming disaster. Main highlights for me: the spirit of India's ceremonies and the excellent Glasgow 2014 contribution to the closing, which builds expectations for four years' time. Main lowlight: the reminder of how bad empty seats look at major events.

Fifth milestone was construction in East London's Olympic Park, and here we can see - literally - concrete success. For "Two Years To Go" we witnessed athletes able to perform on 2012 Olympic territory, and some of the venues will be fully completed very soon. The Park overall is more handsome than most cynical Brits would have expected: the Velodrome is a striking building to sit alongside the showpiece Aquatics Centre, and the main Stadium gets everyone talking about its potential great atmosphere.

Then to number six - the Cultural Olympiad. A year ago it was in pretty poor shape, especially considering it had been with the UK since the end of the Beijing Games. Now it's sitting up in bed and showing signs of life. There was the appointment of a director and the correct decision to rebrand the main part of the Cultural celebration as Festival 2012. (Declaration of interest here: I attend Cultural Olympiad Board meetings.) At the beginning of December the first commissions were announced and they've established the artistic credibility of some of the event. But what it still lacks is public awareness and, in my view, enough strong mainstream moments - though we're promised these will come.

Finally, number seven - the mascots. Well, they were launched. And this was by some distance the most popular blog of the year in this slot with the greatest number of comments. I don't think there's any angle left unexplored, so in the festive spirit let's simply wish Wenlock and Mandeville the compliments of the season - and next time I'll be aiming to predict what's ahead for them and all the rest of us in 2011.


  • Comment number 1.

    Everything seems to be going to schedule, looks like the games would be a great success despite the cynics.

    Come on 2012!

  • Comment number 2.

    Stuff seems to be falling into place at the right times. Still a lot of hard work over the next year and a half I guess!

  • Comment number 3.

    The silly decision to get rid of the stadium wrap aside, this has been a fine year for the 2012 preparations. I hope early next year will see West Ham's bid win the stadium's tennancy and the athletics legacy retained. If not, 2011 could be a decidedly mixed year for the Olympic project, despite it being the year in which most of the venues will be completed.

  • Comment number 4.

    Agreed with Point one.

    Great progress made and from a sporting point of view we potentially saw some new talent coming through that might prove successful in 2012!

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes, 2010 has been an excellent year for London 2012
    Everything is going to plan for London 2012

  • Comment number 6.

    Good that people are feeling positive (so far, anyway)... And you'll have seen the floodlights were switched on in the Olympic Stadium on 20/12/10:

  • Comment number 7.

    "Our conclusion is that keeping up the pace isn't just a "nice to have" for 2012: it's essential if audiences are to get what they want from the Olympics."

    On the subject of new technology, clearly it's working well in the Ashes to ensure that the right umpiring decisions are being made. What a shame that Fifa continues to oppose new technology resulting in some appauling decisions on the footy field...

  • Comment number 8.

    Currently in North America, where they are fascinated that the stadium lights have just been switched on so far ahead of schedule, praising London for the fact that everything is coming together.

    With comments like - "if you want something done properly, just give it the Brits" - "IOC must be delighted that they don't have to worry about the 2012 Olympics, it's in safe hands in London"

    ......They don't get Boris Johnsons joke about bidding for the Winter Olympics though......but then they wouldn't would they

    Its been a GREAT year for the London Olympics

  • Comment number 9.

    The one thing you, perhaps wisely, failed to address head-on is the issue of legacy and, more specifically Government funding for school sport.

    I'm sure Lord Coe would agree that Usain Bolt might lose the 100m final if he played little if any sport in the 12 months up to 2012.

    One wonders, therefore, the value in running a Schools Olympics if by cancelling all school sports initiatives on a 52 week a year basis, you create a generation of couch potatoes?

    There's been a typically British 'bash the programme', 'well **** you, you bunch of lying, cutting cowards' ding dong about this.

    What has been completely repressed all over the media is what the truth is.

    You'll note I'm expressing this from a position of not knowing what the truth is.

    The only truth I know is: if you spent £8bn to create a generation of couch potatoes, good luck at the next election.

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree the most significant thing this year was the change in government and the hatchet they swung in the directions of programmes when they seemingly consider just cost, rather than value.

    The wrap for the stadium, cutting 20% from the security budget, axing school sports projects and the cuts to elite sports programme really takes the shine off the games and undoes a lot of the good work done since the disaster of Atlanta 1996, and of course since London won the bid in 2012.

    Of course in such times priorities have to be made, but the affect of someone winning Olympic Gold upon the nation shouldn't be underestimated - there is nothing like the Olympics or sport in general to put the country in a good (or indeed bad) mood for a few days, and I for one have always said the Olympics are well worth the price and are a long overdue treat for the British public, especially after the last couple of years.

    Well, when I say treat, we of course have to pay for it - so that brings up the other issue not touched upon - the ticketing. I'm sure they'll sell but as with many things in life the idea of what is "affordable" by the people selling often is very different to the views of the people buying - and with the credit crunch biting more and more it seems I'm not sure many families in the East End will have the luxury of sparing £100+ for the family to go and watch some heats of a fairly minor Olympic event.

  • Comment number 11.

    Rjaggar in #9 and Brekkie in #10: the sport legacy issue is very important, yes. You may have seen that my colleague David Bond wrote about it earlier this week:

    - and it's something I'll certainly come back to in 2011.

  • Comment number 12.

    One thing that has been great for the olympic this year is the enthusiasm of volunteers to get stuck in and help out.

    watch this short video its a great example of the excitement going round london's youth!


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