London: “To find your bearings in any Olympics,” said the wise one at the accreditation desk in the Main Press Centre, “you need the patience of Job.” You can add the stamina of Hercules too.
To reach the Olympic Park this morning took me a couple of hours. From there, reaching the Main Press Centre — beyond the ‘world’s biggest McDonalds outlet’ as the legend goes, took another 40 minutes. By the time I reached the accreditation desk at the MPC, it was way past noon and I was way past being pooped.
A couple of invigorating coffees later, I discovered there were several short-cuts to the Park and the MPC. “The best thing to do is to hail a bus or a car wearing the Olympic colors. We are Olympic family and anybody would help.”
Lesson learnt. Apart from acquiring the best attributes of Job and Hercules, you need to use common sense too. The only consolation, if it all, was that there were scores of other beleaguered and fatigued journalists who had been on a merry-spin before reaching the MPC.
But to get back to the Games. A day before the opening ceremony, with the sun down beating down, Great Britain still seemed to be rather cool to the sports extravaganza. There weren’t too many spectators thronging the Olympic Park (security?), though one is given to understand that most of the events have been sold out; including those in which Indians are participating, or not.
Now India may not be a hot sporting nation, but it is beginning to enjoy a Favoured Nation status nonetheless, as evidenced from the fact that Amitabh Bachchan and L N Mittal (the NRI) were asked to carry the Olympic torch which reached Southwark Thursday morning and an A R Rahman’s tune will feature in Danny Boyle-directed opening ceremony.
How India’s sporting prowess expresses itself this time, however, remains to be seen. The archers will be seen in action (at Lords, no less) for the preliminaries beginning tomorrow and thereafter all the others in the 81-strong contingent. If the medal tally of Beijing is not doubled I would reckon it would be disappointing.
London’s Olympics problems are exaggerated
“Finally London seems to be getting into the Olympics mood,’’ said the volunteer at the facilitation desk at Heathrow for delegates, athletes, media and guests reaching here for the Games.
It must be true, even if Lord Sebastian Coe is not at hand to personally receive everybody. Stories of long delays and poor transport seem to be somewhat exaggerated; or may be one was plain lucky.
Getting through immigration was a breeze, and the long haul by tube from the airport in the West to Stratford in East London where the Olympic Park and our residence are located uneventfully pleasant.
Road transport one gathers, is a different story with traffic moving at snail’s pace largely because of the creation of the special VIP Olympic lane. But as the city’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy put it succinctly, “No Olympics are without pain.’’ Unless there is a major collapse in logistics and systems I would venture that transport, infrastructure et al should hold for the duration of the Games.
Sustainability of interest had seemed to be the larger issue. Londoners can be as fickle as the weather here, and reports suggest that more than 10 per cent of its denizens have fled overseas for a holiday, dreading the onslaught of visitors.
But the number of people entering London for the Games is greater than those leaving it, and by that simple mathematical equation, it is being happily forecast that the London Olympics will be a success.
A fair indication of that should come on Friday when the Danny Boyle directed opening ceremony takes place. It’s been a sell-out since the day ticket sales opened many months ago.
And for those who think that entry to such events is a formality, not everybody will get a seat in the stadium. A lucky draw will be held at the Main Press Centre at 1pm (GMT) today.
Since Lord Sebastian Coe has stopped taking calls, I am currently aggressively wooing Lady Luck.
There will be updates throughout the day so keep checking back for more.