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Looking forward to the Olympic year to come

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Roger Mosey | 15:00 UK time, Monday, 21 December 2009

No end-of-year reviews here: we spend our time looking forward. No predictions, either. I've been caught out by those before.

Instead, here are seven things that will happen in 2010 - barring acts of God - and will contribute to the Olympic story. How they turn out will have a big effect on 2012.

And, as I'm fond of saying, the clock is ticking ever faster: when London was awarded the Olympiad, there were seven Christmases to the Games. After this one, there'll be just two.

1. The Winter Olympics.

It's an Olympic year and Vancouver 2010 gets under way in February with full coverage on the BBC.

Millions could be glued to the television late into the night watching our broom-wielding curlers, as they did in Salt Lake City; but for the 2012 organising team it's a chance to witness the Olympic staging and ceremonial in what really, really, is the last stop before London.

Rhona Martin watches on as Janice Rankin (left) and Fiona MacDonald sweep during Great Britain's curling gold medal success at the 2002 OlympicsGreat Britain won curling gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City

I've blogged before about the Torch relay but there'll be the novelty of an opening ceremony indoors and already there are the usual Olympic soap operas about who's playing and who's not.

Which leads to...

2. London Ceremonies appointments.

The organising committee will choose a creative director and a production company to carry out his or her wishes.

Beijing didn't start planning its ceremonies properly until there were about two years to go.

That point will be passed on 27 July, so by this time next year there will need to be a clear plan for London.

3. The World Cup.

The other mega global event and not one that needs any selling: it will obsess almost everyone in the summer.

But for the BBC there'll be much to learn about our audiences' use of media.

We know that video streaming on the internet is getting more and more popular - but quite how much we'll only find out when England are in action at a time when people are in the office or on the move. Similarly with mobile.

How we follow the biggest sporting moments in a digital world is shaping the services we offer in 2012. And just imagine the boost to England's sporting morale if we go beyond the quarter-finals...

4. The Commonwealth Games.

This is an opportunity to puncture any English smugness because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fight under their own flags, but performances will be scrutinised as part of Team GB's build-up to 2012.

Delhi will be watched for other reasons too, though. The preparations haven't been smooth and getting the logistics right is a challenge for a wonderful but chaotic city like Delhi.

London will be keeping an eye on developments but even more, so will Glasgow, as the next Commonwealth host city in 2014.

5. London's Olympic Park construction.

The building work is making good progress, but the importance of 2010 is best expressed by John Armitt, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

"The next year", he said last week, "will be our toughest as the number of workers increases and activity on the Olympic Park reaches its peak, so we cannot afford any complacency."

6. The Cultural Olympiad.

Compared with building the stadiums, this may feel like just some nice music and performance on the periphery.

And at the moment the Cultural programme isn't breaking through, which is why its new chief Tony Hall will be keen to set out a vision for how it can grab the nation's attention. Expect announcements by spring 2010.

7. Mascots. And finally, fun with soft toys.

The Olympic Games always have mascots - as do the other biggest events, and I'm old enough to remember England's pioneering World Cup Willie.

The word is we can expect to see the London Olympic mascot before summer 2010, and the press will be eager to know the answer to the question: cute and cuddly, or edgy and modern?

Let's look on the positive side: this is area where there isn't much competition from Beijing...

All this and more will be reported across the BBC - and I'll keep chipping in on this blog. Most important, your comments shape what I write about so please keep them coming in 2010.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Roger, interesting blog as always.

    1. Winter Olympics - Do you know when the BBC tv coverage details will be added to the website as I'm really looking forward to it and would like to plan my viewing. If the actual times aren't finalised yet, can you give a rough indication. I think an Olympic day is about 5pm to 5am, will you be covering all of it live? Can I also appeal again for a new theme tune, just like you do with the Summer games, as this makes it more special than using the Ski Sunday theme.

    2. London Ceremonies - I have some ideas that I would like to submit for the ceremonies, do you know who I could send these to?

    3. World Cup - When is the meeting with ITV to decide the split of matches between the BBC and ITV? As I have Sky HD, I want the best games on the BBC for the full HD experience! Also as two games kick off in the afternoon and only one in the evening, is there any chance of a 6pm to 7pm highlights show on BBC2 before the evening live game, catching up on the afternoon matches?

    4. Commonwealth Games - Unless I missed it, I didn't see this advertised in the list of BBC sporting events in 2010 that you showcased after Sports Personality of the Year. Please can you confirm that you have the rights to this? If you do, will you still be able to show in HD?

    5. Mascots - I own every single Olympic and World Cup mascot in history from every tournament and I am eagerly awaiting to see what London 2012 has to offer. A British bulldog would be nice, but no doubt it will be some computer generated creature in the shape of the logo! As part of the Winter Olympic coverage can you please feature the three mascots at some stage, and also showcase the leopard Zakumi for the World Cup. As a collector of the macots, it is lovely to see the real things! One of the Vancouver mascots, Quatchi, is particularly adorable. Would be lovely if you could include their images as part of your opening titles. As the excellent Berlino proved at the World Athletics Championships last August, the mascots can be an integral part of the event.

    Have a great Christmas Roger and look forward to your blogs in 2010.

  • Comment number 2.

    Are there going to be any replica strips for London 2012 a la football shirt? Course, i"m talking about an event one, not a UK team one, but you would have thought that a cool design would likely sell a tidy number.....

    Hasn't Mr Mayor been asked to be the mascot yet?? Big n bouncy, just what we need......

    Certainly interested in what Mr Hall will have to say. If I'm anything to go by, 'brand awareness penetration' for the Cultural Olympiad may yet have some way to go....

    Any building completion scheduled in 2010? Swimming pool? Media centre? Might give the BBC a chance for a first 'outside broadcast' at Olympic Park, eh?

    Winter Olympics - lucky whoever gets to go: snow at Whistler is fantastic right now.....I'd put in a word at high levels, if I were you! No need to let that lucky old so-and-so Inverdale hog all the limelight......

    Other than that, merry Christmas Mr Mosey.

  • Comment number 3.

    If media reports from Vancouver are anything to go by tenants living around London come 2012 may have good reason not to look forward to the Olympics. Vancouver are reporting the eviction of tenants by landlords who expect to charge athletes, media and visitors huge rents for accommodation during the Winter Games. Evicted Vancouver tenants have spotted adverts for their accommodation on a sport events rental website and are taking legal action. Landlords and other homeowners around London may find it difficult to resist the opportunity to exploit the demand for spare accommodation in 2012. Tenants beware!

  • Comment number 4.

    Andy #1

    The detailed schedule of events is available on the VANOC website. Times will be Canadian but easily worked out to the GMT eqivalent.

    I am looking forward to the coverage but Roger please ENSURE that there is a commentary free-feed of the opening and closing ceremonies available on one of the interactive channels and that it really is commentary free - this has not been the case for the last Olympics and Commenwealth ceremonies.

    Not everyone wants to listen to the innane witterings of whoever it is you use.

  • Comment number 5.

    Andy in #1: quite a few points are for my colleagues in BBC Sport, and I know they read the comments posted here. On the issues in my territory: if you email me I can point you in the right direction on ceremonies. BBC emails are usually formatted as And on mascots: we're talking to the London 2012 people about how we might develop the ideas in that area, and I'm sure you'll see and hear a lot about them in due course.

    Rjaggar in #2: season's greetings to you too. And you're right about the Cultural Olympiad.

    David Pajak in #3: I don't know the specifics about Vancouver, but it's certainly true that Olympic cities have big challenges around accommodation and logistics. It's something we'll be keeping an eye on.

    Magnificentpolarbear in #4: I'll talk to Dave Gordon, BBC Sport's head of major events and the man in charge of Vancouver, when we're back in the office. But we shall make it our New Year resolution to keep inane witterings to a minimum...

  • Comment number 6.

    It's going to be an exciting year of sporting events to come and the last chance for the BBC presenters and technical staff to work on a huge sporting event before 2012. I'm guessing the presenting and reporting teams for the Winter Olympics and World Cup are going to have significant roles to play come 2012 and need to gather as much experience of these events as possible.

    The ceremonies and mascots appointments will be particularly interesting to me and I hope the folks at London 2012 get them right. I'm sure people will find a way to moan, whatever the choices, though (well, with the building on time and on budget, they'll need some sort of stick to beat London 2012 with). The organisers really need to make a noise about the Olympics this year, though - because aspects such as the cultural Olympiad, have really failed to penetrate public conciousness so far, from what I can tell.

    Personally, I vote for a Berlino the Bear copycat as mascot! Anyone who saw the World Athletics Championships last summer knows how hysterical he was! And really brought the personality of the athletes out too.

  • Comment number 7.

    Looking forward to the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games, but gutted we'll be one stream down interactive wise on Freeview, which just isn't acceptable really. Forget about the internet - for many of us streaming online isn't an option, and isn't how we want to watch such events anyway.

    Also for both events and the World Cup it would be nice if the red button text service got a bit of a facelift so they were tailored to each event as they used to be, rather than just the generic grey look. Nothing too difficult retired - just tweaking the colour scheme and slapping the Olympic rings onto the BBC Sport logo!

    Hopefully too the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games will have some male presence in the presenting team. I guess the Six Nations rules John Inverdale out of the former, but would definately like to see him involved more in the Commonwealth Games coverage than he has been at the past.

    Oh, and finally - not sure you have any sway over such decisions in your new role, but the European Athletics Championship being in Barcelona surely requires THAT theme tune to make a return to BBC Sport. Heck, ignore the rest - that's my number one demand for 2010! ;)

  • Comment number 8.

    Anapplefellonmyhead in #6: very much agreed on most points, though I suspect we're going to get something different to Berlino... You're right about making more noise, and I've always thought that's something that will happen anyway after the World Cup: once that's over and there's less than two years to go to the London Games, national attention will switch to the Olympics.

    Brekkie in #7: I don't think anyone would have chosen the outcome on Freeview but there's an inevitability about it given the pressure on channel space, the demand for HD and the limitations of this generation of boxes. You've said in the past that Canvas won't fulfil what you want in terms of streaming, and I understand that, but our hope is that many people will find it gives them something significantly better than the current frustrations of Freeview.

    Other points noted - and I assume you mean this theme tune?

  • Comment number 9.

    I am very much looking forward to the Vancouver Winter Olympics having participated and competed in both Alpine and Nordic events in my younger years. Though I enjoyed all the racing I did, I have come to the eventual conclusion that watching the traditional Alpine downhill, giant slalom and slalom events is pretty boring, except perhaps hearing the result at the end. It's a bit like F1 Grand Prix Qualifying; no comparison with the excitement of the actual Grand Prix; just a constant stream of competitors trying to beat the clock.

    Of course, the BBC gives these events massive coverage and, these days, actually has comentators who have competed and thus know what they're talking about.

    During the last Winter Olympic coverage, it became blatently apparent that the commentators on many events had no personal experience and inadequate knowledge. Although retired sports competitors, athletes and horseriders etc, they were wholly inappropriate for live coverage of these events, without experienced backup as a dual act. We even had the farcical experience of seeing Steve Cram interviewing Curling competitors.

    Meanwhile, BBC2 was playing lip service to covering Nordic events with an unknown commentator who knew none of the competitors' names, struggled even to refer to them correctly by their nationality, and, of course, knew nothing of their previous skiing performances or current form. Now wouldn't it have been at least a step in the right direction to get Steve Cram involved. As a star middle distance runner he would have related well to the training and physical endurance of the Nordic racers, and their racing tactics. So many Nordic events now are run with mass starts that they compare with Summer Olympic track racing, but with the addition of skiing skills.

    Finally, ramp this up to the mass start Biathlon events, both individual and relay. Here the skill of shooting, both prone and standing, with heartbeats in the high 100s, adds to the spectacle, with positions changing constantly as a result of shooting success or failure.

    The Norwegian, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is likely to win his 100th World Cup race this year. This is unprecedented in Winter Sports, yet I have never heard his name mentioned on the BBC. He had an unsuccesful Olympics 4 years ago, by his standards, and will be determined to succeed this time. This is a huge story on which the BBC should be producing a substantial feature. I would like to think that this will happen, and thus introduce the public at large to this fantastic spectators sport, but am not optimistic.
    If there is anything you can do to alert the BBC to this opportunity, may I please thoroughly recommend such action. To see how it should be done one needs only to view Eurosport (Sky channel 410) at 1145 next Saturday, when Bjoerndalen is next due to be in action.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks Roger. I look forward to a wittering free commentaty on the ceremonies (especially when people are actually speaking or performing).

    Could the problem of loosing a freeview stream (302) not be resolved by using the BBC Parliament channell (81)?

    The Vancouver Olympics are from 12th - 28th February and Parliament is in recess from the 10th to the 22nd. Instead of endless repeats of select committees etc why not replace it with Vancouver coverage?

    You did this for Beijing so a precedent has been set. I know it dosen't cover the whole period. For the last week of the games you could show the games overnight live once the MPs have stopped their business.

  • Comment number 11.

    Okefordbard in #10: thanks for the comments. I know they'll be read by the 2010 Winters production team.

    Magnificentpolarbear in #11: yes, we used the BBC Parliament space during the Beijing Olympics and our hope - subject to the necessary approvals - is to do the same for London 2012. Unfortunately at this stage it won't be possible to do that for Vancouver - partly, as you say, because the dates don't fit precisely.

    But I know colleagues in BBC Sport are going to be as imaginative as they can in offering the greatest possible choice. There will be a lot available on satellite and cable, and this website will have a rich array of content - with details coming soon. Meanwhile, the goal for 2012 remains as I set it out in an earlier blog: to be the greatest showcase so far for digital technology and audience choice.

  • Comment number 12.

    Might I please add a second comment on the Winter Olympics.

    I'm still shuddering at the cruelty of the media at large on the treatment of Eddie, our one and only ski jumper some years ago. The BBC was slammed for giving him coverage, being a "loser" and perhaps for lacking rugged good looks. This was abhorrant to anyone who has striven to compete at a high sporting level in any event, but particularly a winter event requiring so much skill and bravery.

    GB has competitors in both Alpine and Nordic events. Undoubtedly they will have little by way of sponsorship and substantial logistic challenges, as well as the problems of training to the skill and fitness levels required to compete successfully. They are intrinsically underdogs, thus deserving of our support. How sad then that we hear so little about them unless they are occasionally successful. How good it would be to watch a feature on their preparations and achievements, and what a boost it would give them to feel that the nation is supporting them.

    It's a long road to success in winter sports as a Brit. They need all the support they can get, so come on BBC, forget coverage of the elite for a moment and get behind your national team. Remember what the first B in your title stands for!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh, didn't realise the politicians were off for most of the Winter Games. BBC Parliament should defo be used then - might not be perfect but better than just the one stream.

    Indeed as no equipment actually exists to receive BBC HD on Freeview yet there's no real reason why the interactive streams should have been turned off so early - waiting till the end of Feb wouldn't have harmed, even if it was delaying the inevitable. (I know it's not an issue for you Roger, but heck, OFCOM and the BBC Trust didn't listen to our views - so at least here we can rant at someone who'll read them, even though we know you're powerless to do anything about it!)

    And yes of course I meant that theme tune Roger. Indeed I wouldn't mind the 1994 Commonwealth Games theme being resurrected for the Vancouver Olympics, but I guess we'll get Ski Sunday as always.

  • Comment number 14.

    First, sorry for getting the numbers wrong in my last post. I meant #9 and #10, of course.

    #12 and #13 duly noted. Brekkie, what we ARE doing is trying to mitigate the effects of the Freeview decisions - which were taken in good faith but do cause problems for some events. I know BBC Sport are working closely with the television channels to keep the widest possible range of services going, and by hook or by crook we'll make sure 2012 has a fantastic range of choice.

    I think theme tunes deserve a blog of their own sometime, but at the moment we don't plan to start thinking about 2012 until 2011, really...

  • Comment number 15.

    Wonderful coverage of Biathlon on Eurosport last weekend with the men's mass start 15km being as good as it gets, Bjoerndalen eventually winning by over a minute with awesome standing shooting. It was good to see the union jack on the range target graphic and to hear a bit from the commentators about the team's achievement. It occurs to me however, that a channel such as Eurosport have no control over the video coverage as it has to satisfy, well, Europe. The BBC have full control and can interview British competitors, show us how they prepare and give us some idea of the scale of their achievements within the context of what they are undertaking.

    Wouldn't it be great to have a 10,000 metre summer track event where runners have to stop at a range every 2½km, go to their rifle and shoot, running extra distance on a penalty loop for each miss! That would put a stop to those interminable, tactical, slow races with everyone saving for a sprint at the end.


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