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If it's Tuesday this must be Birmingham...

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Roger Mosey | 09:10 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The BBC 2012 project team is on tour - heading to the major centres of the UK to debate with BBC colleagues and key opinion-formers just how the Olympics can be of benefit to the whole of the country.

I've also been chatting to the local press in Bristol, in Leeds (where we liked the picture rather less) and in Lincolnshire.

It is, of course, unavoidable that much of the focus of the Olympic Games is on London. The award is to a host city, and it's London's mayor who received the Olympic flag from the mayor of Beijing.

Boris Johnson in Beijing

But the London organisers have always said they wanted to involve the rest of the UK as much as possible and as we travel around we're picking out some themes at this stage that could get the spirit of the Games beyond the capital.

First is the Torch relay.

After the problems that beset the Beijing relay, this one will be pretty much entirely within the UK - and the promise is it will come within an hour of 95 per cent of the population.

It should be a big moment when it arrives in our major towns and cities, and the planning is just starting.

Second is the Cultural Olympiad, about which I wrote recently to a fair amount of indifference - but the music, art and performance will only work if they win hearts and minds well beyond London.

Third is the training camps: the plans of major competitor nations to base themselves around the country, spreading some of the economic benefits and building interest in the Games.

Australian swimmer Libby Trickett in Manchester

It's hard to avoid the cliche that Australian swimmers have already created a splash in Manchester (and Manchester's press release fell right in), while Loughborough will be turning Japanese and Birmingham's expecting the Americans.

And the organisers have been clear there are wider economic gains too - with more work for hundreds of businesses extending well beyond the capital.

But is this enough?

Some commentators in the regional press are sure it's not and a number of callers on 5 Live last week had a similar point-of-view.

So should the decision-makers just accept that London is the host city and will do disproportionately well from the Games - or how would you like your city, region or nation to try to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime showcase?


  • Comment number 1.

    I'm all for the benefits of the games being spread far and wide throughout the country, but before there's too many complaints about other regions not getting enough out of it, it shouldn't be forgotten that us Londoners have been paying an extra "Olympic charge" on our council tax for the last few years and will continue to for a while to come.

  • Comment number 2.

    I know it's very early days yet, but any ideas on how the torch relay would be covered. Would it be limited to just updates within the news and on the news channel, or show much more extensively? (though I'm sure by the first hour of people passing it too each other we might get a bit bored of watching it, especially without the threat of it being hijacked by protestors!)

    Kind of a shame too the Worldwide element has been scrapped, but surely that kind of went against the eco-friendly attitude the Olympics tries to sell too.

    I agree though these are London Olympics, and as much as they are Britain's as well, they should not be diluted just to satisfy a few people who probably aren't that interested in the event itself anyway - they just want the cash.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'll throw this one back at your Roger: should Hampden Park be allowed to stage any of the football events seeing as the SFA are so against a Team GB? Is that the true Scottish viewpoint on the Games?

  • Comment number 4.

    Surely to get the most out of the Olympics the BBC should create a new Olympic channel, that is free to air and will give the view a choice of all olympic sport not just the main events.

    In recent years the BBC had developed thier interactive service to inform and entertain the viewer and I hope this contuniues into and well beyond the 2012 Olympics.

    I would love to see both of these delivered by the BBC, creating an all encompassing service for the British and world audiences.

    Let's make this the best, and most audience friendly Olympics ever!

  • Comment number 5.

    The clue, as they say, is in the title. Of course London will benefit, but what is the cause of much regional concern is the outlflow of lottery funding from sport and the arts into East London.

    At the moment, there is a trading deficit, and the task of all concerned is to redress that balance.

    You should all have a look at the work the South Wales Chamber is doing, as this is also being repeated around other regions.

    If you take time to read the comments of the chamber head and the economic arguments they are making, I hope that you will get behind the project.

    Roger, I cannot stress to you that there are major things being developed by the athletes themselves...

  • Comment number 6.

    'I'll throw this one back at your Roger: should Hampden Park be allowed to stage any of the football events seeing as the SFA are so against a Team GB? Is that the true Scottish viewpoint on the Games?'

    Yes it should be. Regardless of the SFA's veto, the team (of many sports) representing our country at the games is a Great Britain and Northern Ireland one which will include plenty of Scottish athletes. Scotland has every right to host some part of the games and a token few football matches is the least it deserves regardless of whether there are Scottish players in the GB football team or not.

    Remember the man who took all the headlines in Beijing was one Chris Hoy, a Scot through and through.

  • Comment number 7.

    Brekkie in #2: we've asked Carl Doran, editor of Sports Personality and Sport Relief, to be the creative head of the BBC's Torch Relay coverage. He'll be working closely with the people at LOCOG who are organising it all.

    As you say, it's early days - but I'd expect our local, regional and News services to carry the bulk of the coverage. However, we'd very much hope for at least a couple of major national events around the Torch - so there should certainly be BBC One network coverage too.

    Brady1984 in #4: of course, the aim is that BBC One should be *the* Olympic channel on TV with 5 Live fulfilling the role on radio. But we have plenty of ideas in development about how we'll tell the story in the next three years including on this website and through our interactive services.

    Jordan D in #3 and unounos in #6: I think I'll reserve comment until I've been to Glasgow in September...

  • Comment number 8.

    "Via Birmingham, Manchester and Loughborough through to London 2012"....the four corners of the United Kingdom?

  • Comment number 9.

    The "Chris Hoy, a Scot through and through" who "took all the headlines in Beijing" is the same Chris Hoy who was elegant, and sublimely articulate, in explaining that his Olympic medals were not any cause for Salmond and his ilk to bang on their shortbread tins. Without the British coaching and facilities in Birmingham, and without his team mates from throughout the UK, his achievements would have been impossible. He told us this. He was specific, and unambiguous.

    Chris Hoy is a proud Scot and a proud Briton. Despite all the noise which might suggest otherwise, there are plenty like him around.

    The SFA have their specific reasons for opposing the notion of a GB football team. Agree or disagree with them on the merits of that particular issue, but, please, don't jump onto any bandwagons and make the 2012 Olympics a divisive issue, thereby playing further into the hands of those who would seek to break up GB.

  • Comment number 10.

    Zootmac (#9) is exactly correct and puts wonderfully what I was about to say - bar I'm sure he meant Manchester rather than Birmingham!

    unounos (#6) - I'm all for Scotland doing their bit as we are one United Kingdom, however my point was specifically aimed at the football element - the SFA seem to want to have their cake and eat it on this one.

  • Comment number 11.

    I just hope OFCOM hijacking one mux on Freeview for HD doesn't mean the interactive service suffers.

    They claim people want the Olympics in HD (but that would only be one channel anyway, two at most), but I always saw the 2012 digital switchover and 2012 London Olympics as the opportunity to put a full interactive service on Freeview for the games, even if those interactive streams were lost to other services afterwards.

    Re: Football - whatever you think of Sebb Blatter, the official line from FIFA was that they would support a one-off Team GB for the London Olympics (and they put that in writing) - and it's the Welsh, NI and especially Scottish FA who have created a myth their national status would be lost should they agree - for reasons which really benefit no-one.

    As a Welsh man, if we are represented in football at the Olympics I want it to be by a truly British team, not an English team.

    Both a mens and womens team represented Great Britain at the recent Universiade Games (World Student Games). Not sure of the make up of these teams - I expect they were selected through BUSA (the British Uni Sports Assoc.) rather than with any involvement of the national football associations.

  • Comment number 12.

    Brekkie - it's a good point about Freeview and the balance between HD and interactive streams. It's something we're looking at as part of the overall distribution/channel strategy for 2012, and I'll aim to talk more about that in the coming months.

  • Comment number 13.

    Can I please put my name down for the London meeting. Would be great to talk about how the public can enhance the games using the variety of skills and abilities that have grown in our multicultural society especially coupled with the power of the internet. Who can I talk to about helping make this happen from the BBC's side? @whymandesign


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