Friday, January 16, 2004

Give us the Games!

New York, London, Paris, Madrid.
Everybody's talking about...Olympic bids

London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games was officially launched today and I have to say I feel quite excited about it all. I know there's still 18 months until the decision is actually made and we face stiff opposition from Paris, Madrid and New York but it's difficult not to think of what it will be like if we do win. The Commonwealth Games in Manchester proved that this type of event can be made into a great success in this country and there's no reason to assume the Olympics would be any different in London. The city would be literally buzzing, I'm sure.

Listen to me, saying 'we' as if I'm involved somehow. I'm not, of course. I won't even be a Londoner by the time the decision is made, let alone when the opening ceremony comes along (probably) but that won't stop me acting like one where the Olympics are concerned. I'm even happy for the Government to use my hard-earned tax to pay for it.

The bid is, naturally, focused around the Olympic Park which is to be built in the East End. It will include an 80,000 seater stadium, aquatic centre and velodrome as well as accommodation for the athletes and general regeneration of a fairly rundown area. If it all happens it will be fantastic.

But I don't think that's what's won me over about the bid. What I like is the fact that familiar London landmarks will be used for some of the events, such as Hyde Park hosting the Triathlon and Archery at Lords. The best of these, though, has got to be the most unlikely pairing of Horseguard's Parade with Beach Volleyball. I mean can you imagine what that would look like? I think we should get the nod from the IOC just for coming up with that particular location!

The one bit I don't really like is the poster campaign 'Leap for London'. A picture of a hurdler jumping over Tower Bridge just doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid.

Of course, even if the bid is successful, there will be several hurdles to get over to make the Games themselves a success. Not least of which is the development of Crossrail, which will play a vital role in transporting people between the Olympic Park and the centre of London. But winning the bid may provide just the motivation the project needs for it to be finished on time.

Overall I think London hosting the Olympics would be good for the country, great for our capital city and fantastic for the East End and I will support it wholeheartedly.

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