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London needs firing up

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Roger Mosey | 18:18 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

So just as the snow is eventually followed by the thaw, we move from 2010 to 2011 - and have a quick look at some of the Olympic milestones for the year ahead.

There is, I reckon, one over-arching thing that needs to be done. Up until now, the London 2012 preparations have gone very smoothly. The chairman and the chief executive are still in place, which is rare for Olympic cities, and the construction has been ahead of schedule. But that lack of drama has also meant a lack of headlines - and "steady as she goes" isn't the cry that gets millions of people fired up.

This ties in with what one veteran Olympic-watcher said to me recently: London doesn't at the moment feel like an Olympic host city. There's little signage, not many 2012-oriented events yet and none of the buzz that was apparent in Beijing when I went there at this kind of time before the Games.

This is, of course, tied in with the fact that London is a city which hums with activity 24x7x365; and adding an Olympic layer on top of one of the world's most energised and connected cities was always going to be tough. So as with the achievements delivered by the organisers already, there's a challenge of coping with success.

But the goal for 2011 should be clear: by the end of it there needs to be a keen sense of anticipation for 2012 - and the UK should be moving from passive support to active engagement with what's ahead.

How can that be done? Look out for these landmarks.

1. Ticket sales, due in March. We've talked a lot here about ticketing and your message is clear. You want the process to be fair and tout- and glitch-free; and, of course, many people are setting a lot of hopes on getting into the events of their choice. Not everyone will get what they want, but knowing that you have your ticket to 2012 will be a big step for millions of people.

2. One Year To Go. On 27 July 2011 it will be exactly a year to the Opening night, so expect to see some ceremonial - there's usually a formal invitation to athletes to come to the next host city - and London starting to be dressed like an Olympic capital. In China in 2007 this was a characteristically huge landmark - so even if we don't have an official song like Beijing's unoriginally-titled "We are ready", the world will be wanting a sense of what the Games of 2012 will be like. Here at the BBC we're working with Locog on One Year To Go programming, and our ambition is to move from the daytime slots of Two Years To Go into the peak schedule if - and it's still an "if" - the right events can be created.

Beach volleyball will be played at Horse Guards at London 2012

Beach volleyball will be played in Horse Guards next year. Photo: Getty Images

3. Test events. There's nothing like sport being played competitively in the actual Olympic venues to get the appetite stimulated, and that's what we should start seeing in 2011. A few days ago there was confirmation, for instance, of the test event for beach volleyball in Horseguards Parade; and gradually the 2011-12 calendar will be inked in with the first serious use of the velodrome, the Aquatics centre and all the rest.

And 4. The Torch Relay. We expect to hear in the first half of 2011 where the Torch will stop overnight on its 70-day journey round the UK, and that will mark the point when major cities know they'll have an official role in the Olympic journey. This is eagerly anticipated by many people around the country, but it's also the opportunity to start winning over wider communities once they know the Torch is coming to them.

Mostly these initiatives sit with the Organising Committee, but we're aware of our responsibility too if we want the Olympic spirit to build. World Olympic Dreams has exceeded our expectations in the numbers of people it's reached, and this Christmas it's complemented by British Olympic Dreams on the BBC News Channel - with Radio 5 live and BBC London supporting the sporting story alongside our live events coverage. Then in March we're expecting to see the launch of BBC Comedy's take on the Games preparations - "Twenty Twelve" - and all year our dedicated bbc.co.uk/2012 website will be getting richer and more ambitious in the content its offering. I'll keep you in touch with other BBC developments here too.

And here's the final reminder of how close we're getting to 2012. When this country won the Games in Singapore, there were seven New Year's Eve celebrations ahead before London's Olympic Year. After 31 December 2010, there will be just one.

In just 12 months' time, we'll be heralding the start of 2012 with all the expectations on London from this country and the wider world - and that ticking clock we've been hearing seems to be going faster and faster.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Um, it's still a year and a half to go. Let's not go overboard just yet. And stuff like the torch relay just won't be that significant in this country, it was different in China where the whole event was imbued with the symbolism of welcoming the world after many years of detachment. London is very different.

    In my opinion Londoners (and the whole of the UK, involved as hosts of training camps and visiting the capital for the games) will embrace the event when it arrives, but trying to force a cheerleading/patriotic response from everyone more than a year out will just be met by indifference. There are plenty of other things going on right now.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would give it a bit of time before we all get going crazy for London 2012.
    The Torch relay wont mean anything unless everyone sees it, and not bung it into the major Cities.
    Also, why arent there major signage? Surely, the whole country should have London 2012 flags or have the major landmarks drapped in London 2012 signage or BBC's Television Centre?
    Its nice to see us finnaly get something right Mr Mosey, I feel that you have forgotten the bad headlines that Wembley got when you was BBC Sport Director, overbudget, late and not even what the plan looked like!
    At last, Seb Coe has shown the World, we can build impressive stadia, cheap at the price and without major trouble...where was Seb when we started building Wembley? Im sure the FA would have saved a heck of a lot of money had he been planning the building of it!
    Of course, there is one problem why we arent going gaga for the Olympics...the BBC's Coverage seems stale of the Olympics...not much eurphoria and why arent any of the Beeb's Idents 2012 based? The BBC Circles could be based around the Olympic Stadium??? Or is that being saved for 2012?
    Maybe its time for the BBC to get more involved and also to tie in with Channel 4 prehaps? The 2012 Paralympic broadcaster.
    Have a tie-in with both would help.

  • Comment number 3.

    What do you think about the proposal of a Premier League football club moving in to the Olympic Stadium after the games? The stadium obviously needs to be used after the event but is a Premier League team right to take it on? Would it have a detrimental effect on them as a side?

    Have a read of Identity Theft to see my view!

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/identity-theft/

  • Comment number 4.

    Roger

    I'm sure that LOCOG are very pleased with the lack of drama so far. For the detractors the whole construction phase has been a huge dissapointment. Wern't there headlines in 2005 about nothing being done for years, we would match the Greeks for finishing at the last minute (if we managed to finish at all), construction would be hit by strikes, disasters and demonstrations and Seb Coe would be making emergency calls to Paris to take over the games.

    I think the 'firing' up needs to be more slow burn than big bang and thats what has been happening so far with 2 years and 1,000 days to go etc markers and these have been handled quite well. The only failure I can detect have been the mascots but then I guess they are not aimed at me !

    I agree with #2 that there should be flags and 'dressed' buildings accross the nation but I think that can wait until next summer.

    Tickets will be the next big thing and that should be the start of an " It's coming' campaign then the 1 year to go. Doing anything too early means people get fed up - rather like Christmas decorations in shops in September.

    But saying that I was at my parents last weekend in the North East (no snow crisis and my train back to London on Monday was on time) and my father asked me when tickets would be on sale and when the dates of the events would be released. So there is an awareness already out there waiting to be tapped but it's a tap thats not ready to be fully opened.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would hope the BBC keeps some perpective on the whole thing rather than chinese state media cheer leading and ingoring the big issues that it faces in long and medium term plus now what are they using the olympic stadium now after everyone has left? Not to say the BBC can't promote some of the events and other things but still i thiink in these times there needs to be some restraint.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ah no. There is absolutely no justification in trying to drum up an kind of extra support this early. Most of the ig events wil sell out anyway so why waste the money on advertising and stunts until at the earliest 6 months efore.

  • Comment number 7.

    If you wanted a Buzz,You should never have picked London ! From Football
    to Rock Concerts,Every performer will tell you,that the further North you go go, the greater the Buzz.Southerners are to Uptight to enjoy themselves,why did Highbury used to be called the Library ? I've never really enjoyed anything like a atmosphere in London,whether it be a sports event or a Concert. And while i hope, i will be proved wrong,i don't think it will happen in 2012.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you should probably save this blog for another 12 months, it's hard to get excited about the prospect of maybe watching sports that nobody cares about outside the month of the Olympics.

  • Comment number 9.

    Mr Mosey

    You sound a bit like the bride's mother organising her wedding day.

    Sure, it's a great day, but 18 months is a long time to be obsessing instead of just living life.

    If you went to outer London, rather than just W1, you'd see plenty of places which DON'T buzz 24/7/365. They're quite staid. So it would make sense to target Olympic buzz there rather than Piccadilly Circus.......

    The best way to get people feeling it's coming is actually if parts of the park (not necessarily the venues themselves) become open to walk in. I don't know the timetable for that, but as soon as you have walkways with grass, trees, flowers etc, it becomes a living place you can go to. Any idea when that's going to be the case??

  • Comment number 10.

    Just to be clear, and to avoid rjaggar's amusing bride's mother syndrome, I wasn't saying we should be firing on all cylinders now. The key line was:

    "the goal for 2011 should be clear: by the end of it there needs to be a keen sense of anticipation for 2012"

    So in other words it's about building to this time next year, when it will be 6 months to go rather than 18. But I'm not sure we can simply wait and assume it will happen - hence the importance of delivering the landmarks within 2011.

    By the way, I agree completely about not boring people rigid - and that's why the very earliest you'll see any BBC "2012" identity will be around One Year To Go.

    Finally, while I'm writing - World Olympic Dreams has played as a series of films and reports across our main news programmes and websites in recent months, and this Christmas it also becomes a programme in its own right. You can catch the transmission times here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00x558b

    - in addition to the British Olympic Dreams I mentioned in the original post:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xb2h7

  • Comment number 11.

    @7 is talking rubbish. The fantastic atmosphere you get in London for big events will be the most exciting, cosmopolitan and multicultural fun the country has ever experienced. Some examples: Ashes 2005 and Rugby world Cup 2003 being celebrated in the streets by thousands in the crowds, hundreds of brilliant concerts all over the city every year and the Hyde Park big gigs and outdoor Last Night of the Proms. These sort of events attract people from all over the South East. The buzz will be there, don't you worry.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mr Mosey
    The Third Sector in Newham is beginning to gear up nicely and contacts in other host boroughs report similar early stirrings, particularly among churches who are exploring how to add value to community engagement using the Games. It is not all about going to the venues themselves but hosting parties locally and this can apply country-wide.

  • Comment number 13.

    for the real buzz of the olympics watch this vid! see what us kids can acheive despite the snow!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmAYrklIdN4

  • Comment number 14.

    @11 I'm sure London will see many fabulous events to tie-in with the London Olympics. For lots of people outside London the only difference between this Olympic Games and any other is that we've had to pay for it.

    Any excitement in a city hosting the games must surely come from the residents of that city and the pride they have in their home town. Trouble is, for a large percentage, London isn't their home town.

    No identity, no pride.

  • Comment number 15.

    Roger,

    If London hasn't quite got the Olympic fever yet, then just think about the rest of us in this country who live outside London! I am a huge Olympic fan and I want to know when things will start happening in my area. When will the gift shops open around the country and not just in London? When will the mascot Wenlock start doing appearances around the country (I heard that Mandeville will visit all the Sainsbury's supermarkets as a Paralympic sponsor).

    Just little things, but it would increase the anticipation level to see the t-shirts in the shops and the mascots touring the cities or the shopping centres etc.

    Finally, as for things to attach to a 1 year to go event and for events in the following 12 months up until Games time..

    How about a competition to be one of the final relay runners inside the stadium at the Opening Ceremony?

    How about a vote for who should light the torch at the Opening Ceremony?

    How about some reality TV themed show that includes contestants (maybe ex-Olympians?) doing all the Olympic sports (including taekwondo and synchronised swimming etc)?

    How about a documentary on the history of the Olympic mascots?

    How about a competition to name the theme tune for London 2012?

    And as a peak time event to celebrate 1 year to go, how having a series of Olympic themed races to whet the appetite and test some of the facilities if they are ready. Such as having an actual 800m race between Coe and Ovett in the stadium, and a rowing race between Redgrave and Pinsent, and a swimming race between Goodhew and Moorehouse etc etc.

    Andy

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    It is hardly suprising that Londoners seem apathetic towards the upcoming Olympic Games. When you consider that most of us will only get to see it on television due to overpriced tickets and the considerable additional expenses of travel and food etc, it may as well be held in Outer Mongolia.

    Ratlintoez suggests that there would be more interest if the event was held further north, unfortunately the IOC turned down previous bids from Birmingham and Manchester (probably due to the fact that it is so grim up there).

  • Comment number 19.

    @14. I too am a Villan and originally from Birmingham. (If that is how your name has evolved.)

    To be honest, I was responding to the crack about no atmosphere in London, which I think is untrue. As for the outside London events and having to pay for it, I think you will discover there are lots of tie in for the regions, the dismantling of stadiums will benefit other areas, and the highest cost has been to London ratepayers not only in money terms but also the disruption of the city whilst the infrastructure is improved. The Lottery has paid and this was from specially set up lottery games which were 2012-dedicated ones made clear when you buy a ticket. When you think how small the UK is, I do not see why people from other regions feel it is impossible to visit for the day to see competition live. People do it for the FA Cup, rugby internationals and other events and so I don't see the problem for many people living south of Manchester, granted a few from further north will have to stay over, so why do they not consider staying just outside London, half an hour out and the hotels are cheaper. Honestly if you want to nitpick it is easy but why can't you all just enjoy the thought of the festival of arts and sport it promises to be? I can only afford to go for a day, I will not see any of the top events but I am looking forward to experiencing the excitement and visiting the site.

  • Comment number 20.

    Roger - when are you going talk about HDTV coverage in your blogs? The opening ceremony is getting ever closer and the BBC seems to have no plans to broadcast the Olympics in full HD picture quality. In the meantime you seem happy to play around with Super HD which no-one can watch. In seems a real shame that Eurosport will be the only channel broadcasting the Olympics in the UK in full native HD picture resolution. Must we rely on a French broadcaster to get the Olympics in full HD or will the BBC deliver?

  • Comment number 21.

    London has a fantastic atmosphere and loads of people here are excited about it. Not sure why people bother trying to compare people from Manchester (for example) and Londoners, we're all living in England a couple hundred miles apart from each other no difference really

  • Comment number 22.

    What a peculiar and rather distasteful article!

    As a publicly funded body the BBC has a duty to act impartially, yet here we find the Director of London 2012 declaring that the BBC sees its role as a propagandist for a sporting event. Your responsibility is to us, the people who pay for the BBC and not to the Organising Committee.

    The BBC's goal for 2011 should be clear: report the facts and stop wasting my money on promotional fluff. I know it goes against the BBC's instincts, but let people make up their own minds. Then, we may see the bulk of the population move from their current position of apathy (or as you call it,'passive support'). As a BBC employee you may not have noticed that there's an economic recession affecting most of us with an accompanying package of cuts and austerity. There is some doubt whether things will improve in the next couple of years.

    So drop the propaganda and join the real world.

  • Comment number 23.

    So the BBC shouldn't be allowed to advertise and promote upcoming events that might be seen as having a positive impact on the country?

    Seems a little harsh to suggest they cannot even talk about the Olympics.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ofcoufrse we all have to be wary about not getting too over excited about an event 18 months away but good progress does seem to be made.

    So long as people don't go around making bold preditions about how the British team do this and that and then getting "egg on their faces"..like the English media usually do (see recent World cup in football and ofcourse the Ashes)

  • Comment number 25.

    Andy in #15: good suggestions, and you'll see projects on those lines being delivered by a range of bodies including sponsors in the coming months. We'll also be announcing more 2012-related programming.

    Carrie in #19: a strong argument, and don't forget that some events - like the Marathons across London and the Triathlon in Hyde Park and cycling in Regents Park - will be free to watch. And there are, of course, Olympic venues outside London with football in Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Coventry - and sailing in Weymouth.

    Digitalscoobiedoo in #20: I know you differ with our HD folk about the technical quality of the BBC HD channels, but to reassure people - we will have both BBC One HD and the BBC HD channel delivering Olympic content in 2012.

    Rasher in #22: it's possible for two things to exist side by side. (1) I've always been clear that the BBC must report fairly and objectively on London 2012 in its journalism. I wrote about this last year:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/rogermosey/2010/03/the_2012_story_has_to_be_told.html - and I've always supported Panorama being Panorama, and Newsnight being Newsnight. They shouldn't pull any punches.

    But (2) we're the host nation broadcaster for the Olympic Games, and London 2012 is supported by all political parties and a wide array of national institutions. The BBC therefore works with our partners to try to make the event as successful for the UK as it can be.

    MarktheHorn - I agree with both #23 and #24!

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Roger

    The athletes themselves are working on a project called Party for the Podium, which wishes to bring athletes to schools, sports clubs, family festivals and tourist attractions, as well as business and other public events.

    The medal ceremony angle, where people receive medals from the athletes thanking them for their support for the nation's elite athletes is becoming a very popular activity for athletes and public alike.

    They are also using the events encouraging corporates to get behind the athletes through supporting Team 2012, BOA, BPA etc etc.

    It is being well received within the M25, but drawing a blank outside London, but I think the most relevant comment is that people don't care about Olympic sports until the games themselves.

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

    Bringing the Games to the country is actually one of the important driver of the LOCOG and things happen outside of London.
    For example, I am sure you know that those sponsors who are in the Energy sector, and endorsed the "sustainability" commitment of London 2012, are visiting schools all over the country to explain what this commitment means.
    Equally, Think about the work done through the "Inspire" programme set up by the LOCOG teams to provide support to projects that help promote the Olympic Mouvement Ideals;
    Also, there is this Competition opened to graduate and postgraduate students of British Universities and Business Schools to write essays about Ehtics in Sport and Ethics in Business, common threats and similarities. See their website: "www.coubertin-awards.org.uk"

    Not visible enough Events? May be, but concrete and efficient relays to get the Olympic message through and raise awareness and commitment inside and outside of London.

 

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