The Olympics have started on the BBC

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 14 August 2004

I've never been a huge fan of the Olympics in the past. When I was growing up the events most likely to make an impact on my consciousness were the politically-driven boycott-stricken years of 1980 and 1984 - which all seemed a bit silly to a 9 year old.

For Athens though I have a professional interest - the BBC has invested a huge amount of time in securing and delivering broadband media rights, and we have multi-screen interactivity on BBCi. This afternoon I quite happily had the full duration of the men's cycling road race on in the background as I listened to the football - although I have to confess my new found interest in cycling is more driven by my interest in Kraftwerk than in the sport itself.

One thing I noticed today is that the BBC's Points of View message board is getting swamped with anti-Olympic postings. The host was asked how many BBC staff were in Greece, so went and found out, and came back with the figure 400 (who are producing 1,200 hours of broadcast). This has enraged some people who consider it an extravagent waste of the Licence Fee and a "jolly" for staff.

Now I can't claim to know how many staff *ought* to be producing the coverage, but I noted in The Guardian's sport supplement a story today indicating that producing the television coverage for the 2008 Olympics as the host nation involves over 2,500 cameras in Beijing with over 10,000 staff. Blimey.

Sadly though, it doesn't seem that there is any will in the rest of the world to observe the tradition of the Olympic Truce

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