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Party like it's 2012

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Gordon Farquhar | 08:00 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

Spectators at an Olympic Games tend to judge their success in three ways - how high was the standard of competition, were the various venues easy to get to, from and around, and how good was the party afterwards?

The latter may seem an entirely hedonistic consideration, but it matters. When the hosts create the right atmosphere, and get stuck in themselves, it's infectious.

I'm fortunate to have had a taste of it at the last four summer Games, and the fondness with which I remember each follows the same pattern.

fireworks_olympics_blog.jpgLondon is one heck of a stage-set - photo: AP

The best, by some margin, was Sydney. The worst was Atlanta, with Athens and Beijing hovering in between.

I'm trying to convince myself that's a judgement made from an entirely professional perspective, but who am I trying to kid?

The Sydney-siders threw one hell of a party, and the city truly embraced the 2000 Games. Sydney looked magnificent at night and after the action ebbed away at Homebush Bay, it picked up downtown, around the Rocks, the quayside, everywhere.

Huge firework displays burst overhead every night, and track-suited, celebrating athletes, including medal winners, hit the clubs and danced till dawn. You were left in no doubt that the locals loved their sport and revelled in being the centre of attention.

The challenge for London is to do the same, but somehow, more and it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.

It can be easy when you live or work in the city to overlook its magnificence, but next time you're in town, look up and around you, take in those splendid buildings, those inviting squares, imbibe the sense of history which Beijing lacked, and Athens rather overlooked.

London's one heck of a stage-set, and Mayor Boris Johnson and his team have got to dress it right.

carnival_olympics_afp.jpgWill London be able to create a carnival atmosphere - photo: AFP

Their plans for the 'look and feel' of the city will play a huge part in the way visitors look back and judge how well London did. They must make sure the locals want to be a part of it, whether they're avid sports fans or just hoping for a good night out.

The Athenian exodus that deprived the city of some of its local flavour diminished the 'apres-sport' experience.

The disaffected middle classes took to the hills and their holiday homes, fed up with the inconvenience and unconvinced there was anything in it for them, except the certainty they'd be paying for it through their taxes for years to come.

Sydney-siders knew that too, but there was no way they were going to miss out on a good time if they were picking up the tab. We need a bit of that spirit in London too. The mayor's not kidding that it'll be "business as unusual" and that the normal way of doing things is going to be disrupted.

Beneath the hyperbole - that London will be the "epicentre of fun in the universe" for a few weeks - the hosts absolutely have a responsibility to put on a great show.

No pressure then, but remember where the games are going next? Rio de Janeiro. I hear their track record of throwing together the odd 'soiree' is rather good.


  • Comment number 1.

    London 2012 will be amazing. People may have been skeptical at first but everyone is up for it, so long as the IOC don't stiff us on the tickets.

  • Comment number 2.

    London 2012 I hope will be fantastic but I keep seeing a X Factor winner's singing "god save the Queen". David Beckham kicking a football into a goal, "Britain's Got Talent winner" doing a little dance routine. I see a few red buses, Beef Eater's with Graham Norton and Richard Hammond presenting the whole thing.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is one for the kids (big & small) and the sports enthusiasts. Somehow there needs to be a balanced presentation not an overwhelming one. You cannot force people to have fun.

    The issues of ticket allocation is a BIG one but if London can provide local people & visitors with a games that spills out into the parks and other key sites (for free) this can be overcome.

    I for one don't want to have to watch my home olympics on my telly!

  • Comment number 4.

    As London has so many immigrant communities from almost all nations on earth, it would appear fairly logical to ask them all if they fancy organising a party each?

    Not only would this allow Brits to experience what a party means to different countries, but it would mean that for one day at least, all those flying in for the games would feel at home.

    From a selfish point, I always wonder what the Chinese think about dragons, it being the year of the Dragon in 2012 and that terrible year when I was foisted upon the world, but they do say that the Chinese rather enjoy the enterprise of the Dragon.

    With a Mayor as enterprising as Boris, this would surely be rather fun, especially if they organised one of their races on the water as part of the spectacle??

  • Comment number 5.

    The 2012 games are an obscene extravaganza paid for by the whole country whilst only the south near London will reap the benefit. At the same time people are being thrown out of work and hospitals and schools are feeling the pinch.
    It isn't as if we stand much chance of winning either. The whole thing is just vanity while the whole world laughs at us.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yea, it's going to be imense and all but i think we need to worry about the fact that London is home to some of the most anti-social people - not only in england but possible the world. The concept of a "chav" to which there is no equivalent elsewhere may be overwhelming for many of the visitors to the city who have never been before and don't speak a word of english.

  • Comment number 7.

    I love the idea from Rjaggar of inviting each of London's ethnic groups to host parties every night - what a great idea! One of the reasons we won the games was the multi-cultural nature of London and we should look to celebrate that all the time.
    The eyes of the world will be on us and we should look to take advantage. Yes my council tax bill is higher now because of the Olympics, but I don't begrudge it at all. I'm looking forward to 2012 and everything it brings.

    One thing I've noticed, though is we're a bit slow already. I went to Greece a couple of years before the games and their airports already had shops, banners, and a general reminder of what's coming. Going through Heathrow last week, nothing. The odd shop and banner might be a nice idea!

  • Comment number 8.

    i think to say Beijing lacks a sense of history is a little misguided. It might be fair to say it overlooked it, but it certainly has it.

  • Comment number 9.

    So long as people know about Olympic parties and as long as they are accessible (in terms of transport and cost), people will definitely come. I really like the idea of a party per London ethnic group - would be one heck of a lot of fun!

    Although I have been rather skeptical in the past about the idea of a London Olympiad, I think that we could put something really special on, now that the enthusiasm's starting to kick in, and the venues are starting to take shape. It's great to think that history's going to be made in a country which has introduced so many good sports to the world, and being able to cheer on our home athletes in their respective disciplines is going to be fantastic.

    I do, however, just have a couple of concerns, the first being ticketing. I really hope that I manage to get tickets to something, because that would be amazing, but if not, as a massive sports enthusiast, I'm not going to be hugely happy about it!

    The only other one is transport (I know, it's rearing its ugly head again) - I just sincerely hope that they keep all of the tube lines open and that there aren't any major issues with getting to and from Olympic venues. That's it. Otherwise, it's all good!

    Reddevil, most people are anti-social in any capital city - it's just the norm. However, the better thing about the Olympics is that these people aren't going to be the only ones there, as there'll be people from all over the world wanting to enjoy the shared experience. Plus, there are 'chavs' in other parts of the world - my friends got started on by some the other night in Paris. Anyway, people aren't stupid - they'll know that places like there, where there are thousands of people, are prone to crime, so they'll remember to be careful about it.

    So, to summarise, so long as we're all clever about it, we've got nothing to worry about.

  • Comment number 10.

    "It isn't as if we stand much chance of winning either. The whole thing is just vanity while the whole world laughs at us."

    KevinWard, what do you mean? You don't "win" an Olympics. Individuals or teams win medals in separate events. The medal table isn't an official gauger of winners or losers - it's something that the media use to compare achievements of countries (and personally I think it's stupid). With an attitude like that, you're going to have a miserable time whatever happens, so when the rest of the country is having a good time, I hope you enjoy yourself sat in your front room moaning and whinging. I can't stand the attitude (often displayed by readers of the Daily Mail) that the country is a "laughing stock" and the Games will be an "embarrassment". Why should they? The reason I'm occasionally embarrassed is because of negative, miserable self loathing that you don't appear to get in other countries. Stop it - it's BORING.

    I for one am looking forward to the Games.

  • Comment number 11.

    I recently watched the winter Olympics held in Canada and this was a huge success because of one thing. They were allowed to celebrate their nationality. In the UK if you so much as show a St Georges Cross or the Union Flag then you are told to take it down "in case we offend an other race" by some jumped up Politian or Councillor who take PC to the max. For this one reason we will not be able to celebrate the Britishness of this country and will fail miserably.
    We should be more like the Australians. “If you want to visit this country or even live here, respect our beliefs, live by our laws, or leave.” Why should we continually bend over backward to please others and in doing so, watering down this once great country.

  • Comment number 12.

    Kevin Ward wrote:
    It isn't as if we stand much chance of winning either. The whole thing is just vanity while the whole world laughs at us.


    Why are they laughing at us? For putting on the Olympics? For not winning the 'big' events like the 100m? I think you should stop sulking and try to look forward to/enjoy something which just could be really amazing. Though not if you're involved.

  • Comment number 13.

    Not sure about the other venues, but was lucky to be in Sydney during the Olympics, and one thing there that really stood out was the fact that there were TV screens and public Large screens everywhere. In shops, shopping malls, every office. Really made you feel part of the action even if you couldn't be at the stadium. Of course the location helped as well. as there was so much to do and see near the Stadium you really didn't have, or need to. leave the area to keep the vibe going. That is what London needs to do, make sure that people stay around the area by providing lots of alternative events, easy access to and from the venue at all hours of the day so there is no rush to have to leave, and the local population have to embrace everything and everyone about the Games.

  • Comment number 14.

    Kevin Ward

    Your comment represents everything that is wrong with this country.
    Negative, misinformed, inaccurate moaner!

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    As Boris Johnson correctly stated, not everyone will be taken in by the Olympic spirit, that will be the case no matter where you host an Olympic Games. As someone who spent time in Canada in the months running up to the Winter Games in Vancouver, the same misgivings (cost, inconvenience et al) and "Bah Humbug" attitudes were trotted out time and time again but we all saw for ourselves how, when the moment came around, the whole city embraced the Games wholeheartedly. I have absolutely no doubt that exactly the same will happen come 2012 and London will put on a show that the whole country will be proud of.

  • Comment number 17.

    I tried to look at the Mayor's plans for London 2012, published on his website today, but I got "access denied". Great!

  • Comment number 18.

    What seems to have been missed here is that 32m is supposed to cover all that goes on across the Uk, not London alone.
    Bozzer looks like he has jumped the gun a bit in claiming this as his own though he may get the last laugh if no one else is quick enough to stake their claim!

  • Comment number 19.

    Come on everyone - this will only happen once in our lifetimes. My boys will be 17 & 15 when the Games are on. What a fantastic opportunity to watch world class sport in their own capital city, to mix with spectators from all over the World and to accumulate a stash of great stories to tell their own children.

    I've been lucky enough to attend previous Games and I can tell you nothing compares.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sorry to say it but Brazil will do a whole of a better job at the whole carnival atmosphere thing. We'll just be wheeling out the red phone boxes and buses and hoping for some olde worlde charm. Nothing spectacular!


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