Olympic Round-Up

 by Martin Belam, 6 July 2005

The BBC wasn't the only site to suffer from the volume of Olympic related internet traffic just after decision time this afternoon - whilst we had to switch to our frankly ugly mini-me version of the homepage to help the servers cool off, london2012.org died completely.

London2012 Melts

Elsewhere on the web the DCMS opted for a massive splash graphic to announce the news, whilst london.gov.uk went for a more restrained approach.

DCMS website Olympic Decision splash    London Mayor’s site announces Olympic decision

Meanwhile the official Olympics site used the iconic image of Tower Bridge to publicise the result.

IOC website

Not everyone was happy of course, and quite a few of the blogs and sites I read had either negative posts, or negative comments attached to otherwise positive posts.

=bmd= posted a comment on the Observer blog which made an interesting point:

I think I'm the only one in my office who is genuinely angry about this happening. I don't wear this white band so that one of the richest countries in the world can indulge themselves in this over-rated display of self appreciation and one-upmanship. I cannot believe that so soon after the Live8 demonstration and hours before the G8 conference that we can be considering devoting what is certainly going to become a lot of money to something to patently ridiculous.

Some of the Points of View regulars were annoyed that this London-centric news had relegated Scotland's big day in the world's spotlight to second spot in the BBC's bulletins.

Chicken Yogurt wrote:

If I hear one more of the patronising, punchable, enormo-egos that constitute the British Olympic bid team say, "this isn't just about London but the whole country," I might very well go postal.

Unless the marathon runs past my front door here in Brighton, the Olympics coming to the UK will impact on my life not at all - apart from, of course, all the money that will swill away to pay for this smug back-slap. I'm sure if you live on a sink estate in Glasgow you must be jumping for joy right now. As you will be if you run any of the functionally redundant yet highly lucrative marketing consultancies or advertising agencies that swarm around London like mussels around a sewage outlet.

How this helps even Londoners I'm not quite sure unless any of them are desperate for a velodrome on the doorstep. "Oooh, think of the regeneration in Stratford in London's East End," squawk the feeble-minded. Well, I used to commute through Stratford every day of my life. It's a toilet and no amount of lottery money is going to change that.


Another silver lining will now be to watch the chaos as the mighty organisational skills of New Labour are brought to bear on bringing in a massively complicated and expensive enterprise on time and on budget. I'm hugging myself at the thought. It's going to make cataloguing the population look like taking a provincial primary school's register.

My favourite headline though was Europhobia's unhappy "Pissing Shit. We got it"

Personally I'm really pleased - I reflected yesterday with a colleague that if the London bid didn't win I wasn't looking forward to the inevitable British press backlash and post mortem - all that money wasted, why Coe, it was all Ken's fault screaming from the Standard, so just *why* couldn't New Labour deliver the games from the Mail? - plus a side helping of anti-French feeling had Paris been victorious.

Currently I don't live very far from where many of the events will be held - Waltham Forest forms part of the bid - and I found out that my dad had been watching the announcement on a big screen down in Leyton. Hearing him on the phone today saying that he can't believe that in his lifetime he'll just be able to walk down the road to watch the Olympics told me just how big an impact it could have on the people in this area.

I'm sure we'll soon be sick of Olympic-mania, and then it will all go quiet for a few years, but one argument I foresee running on and on is the football argument. Both men's and women's football are Olympic disciplines, but we have no 'Team GB' to enter into the games. It is inconceivable that the UK could host the Olympics (and football matches are due I believe to be played in Wales and Scotland) and not be represented in our national game. But how to resolve the wrangle?

Both the Scots and Welsh F.A.s have been understandably cagey about the prospect that if we set the precedent of 'Team GB' it might become the norm to enter World Cup's and European Championship's as 'Team GB'. I don't think anyone is under any impression that 'Team GB' at the moment would be anything other than the England squad plus probably Savage, Giggs and Bellamy, and from Scotland and Northern Ireland......hmm, well, you get my point.

I'm fairly certain that an agreement will be reached though - in 2003 FIFA made changes to its' statutes about the status of the UK's separate national associations - at the time Welsh FA secretary David Collins said:

The home nations' position is safer now than it has ever been, and that has been reinforced by the fact that Great Britain's continuing vice-presidency of Fife has also been written into the statutes

It is the first time the position of the four associations has been enshrined in Fife statutes.

We have heard a number of times of the possibility of combining to form a Great British association, but now the position is clear

Qualification for European teams is via the UEFA U21 Championship. It isn't yet clear that a 'Team GB' would get an automatic place (although Greece did in 2004), which raises the prospect that either 'Team GB' would have to compete in the 2011 UEFA U21-Championship, and get to the semi-finals, or that they could gain automatic qualification, but presumably England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would have to withdraw from the 2011 U21 qualifiers, lest they accidentally qualify as a nation in their own right.

Just last month, UEFA announced changes to the way the U21 tournament finals would be staged. It means naming a specific host two years before the tournament. UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson: "It means that countries who could not organise the final round of the European Championship could perhaps organise an U21 final round. We are opening up a totally new opportunity for countries."

The Scottish and Welsh FA's might think that they have an opportunity here to bid to host the UEFA U21 tournament and give 'Team GB' a competitive run-out a year before the Olympics, in much the same way that the Confederations Cup is used to test the infrastructure prior to FIFA's World Cup tournaments.

Still, leaving the football aside, my favourite Olympic prediction from the web in the last couple of days is from Diamond Geezer with the expectation of "endless pessimistic articles in the Evening Standard detailing how the whole venture will undoubtedly be a complete disaster"


Incredibly The Standard has seemingly ceased all hostilities and in its leader this evening commented "Its a testament to the herculean efforts of Sebastian Coe, The Mayor, Ken Livingstone..." Who'd have thought it.
There's a smiling pic of Ken in the sport pages in his Olympic suit but obviously all praise is reserved for (ex William Hague "adviser") Seb. I still can't quite forgive him for Moscow 1980 and his defeat of (Brighton resident) Steve Ovett in the 1500m.
Even today.

The explosions this morning seem to be all the comment we need to hear.

I hope that you and Mrs currybet and all your colleagues are safe.

We're both fine

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