Tales From the Bitface (Posts about olympics)https://devilgate.org/enContents © 2020 <a href=”mailto:martin@devilgate.org”>Martin McCallion</a> Thu, 11 Jun 2020 11:58:02 GMTNikola (getnikola.com)http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssThe Sadness of Empty Seatshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2016/08/09/the-sadness-of-empty-seats/Martin McCallion<p>It is very sad to see all the empty seats at the Olympics in Rio — especially remembering <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/”>how hard it was to get tickets four years ago</a>.</p> <p>I expect that not many people in Brazil are well enough off to afford tickets — though you’d think it would be incumbent upon the organisers to set the prices at a level where people could afford them. It’s not as if it’s the ticket-buyers who pay for the bulk of the games’ costs, after all. That would come from the corporate sponsors. Or so I would expect: I don’t have the actual figures.</p> <p>You’d think that there would be a lot of tourists. I’m sure there are, but it looks like it’s not enough to fill the seats. Maybe getting to Brazil <em>and</em> buying the tickets is just too expensive for many.</p> <p>And of course there were empty seats visible at London 2012 too, which annoyed everyone — especially when we discovered that many, many seats went to corporate sponsors, who then just didn’t bother to use them. But then, everything was shown as sold out on the ticketing site. Aparently in Rio that is not the case.</p> <p>Oh well, you get a better view on the telly, anyway.</p> 2016olympicssporttvhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2016/08/09/the-sadness-of-empty-seats/Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:51:18 GMTProposed New Cycling Race for the Olympics: the “Commuter Race”https://devilgate.org/blog/2016/08/06/proposed-new-cycling-race-for-the-olympics-the-commuter-race/Martin McCallion<p>This is something that I wrote some notes on around the London 2012 Olympics, and just sitting here watching the Men’s Road Race on day 1 of Rio 2016, I thought I’d dig it out and finally post it.</p> <p>Competitors have to ride stock bikes — no fancy superlight frames or custom wheels; just ordinary commuter-type bikes. They can be set up for the individual, but they must have mudguards and lights and EITHER a rack and one pannier OR the competitor must carry a backpack or messenger bag; the bag to hold a weight equivalent to (say) a laptop and a change of clothes.</p> <p>The race to be a typical commute distances (say 5 miles?) carried out over normal commuting streets, during rush hour, with normal traffic.</p> <p>Competitors get disqualified for jumping red lights or going the wrong way down a one-way street; and receive time penalties for going on the pavement (maybe disqualification there too, actually). They may receive a time bonus (or at least clock-stoppage) for unreasonable delays, as for example when an articulated lorry is reversing across the road and holding everybody up.</p> <p>To be run as time trials with say a one-minute separation, so competitors should not be directly racing against each other.</p> <p>An alternative version would have them use bikes from the city’s bike-hire scheme. They’d have to turn up at a designated pickup point, wait if a bike wasn’t available, and so on. This has the added advantage that it forces host cities to have or introduce such a scheme, and to keep the bikes well maintained.</p> <p>It’s challenge that normal people — ones who commute by bike, at least — could really identify with.</p> commutingcyclingolympicsracingsporthttps://devilgate.org/blog/2016/08/06/proposed-new-cycling-race-for-the-olympics-the-commuter-race/Sat, 06 Aug 2016 18:24:33 GMTGeneration: Inspiredhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/09/11/generation-inspired/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>So, it’s all finally over, and we go back to normal. Or perhaps not. The slogan of London 2012 was “Inspire a Generation”, and I think that has happened.</p> <p>But the question is, what generation?</p> <p>The tacit assumption was always that the slogan applied to the <em>next</em> generation: to teenagers and younger kids. Get them up off their arses, it implied, and away from their consoles, and down to their local sports hall, playing field, or pool.</p> <p>Whether and to what extent that has worked will take a long time to see. But there’s another generation that is already visibly inspired, to my admittedly limited view.</p> <p>Mine.</p> <p>Where by “mine” I sort of mean “everyone who’s not still a child.” Because what I’m seeing as I cycle to and from work these days is that the streets are <em>packed</em> with cyclists. And people out running, too; there are definitely more than usual. But it’s us London cyclists who are really showing up.</p> <p>I personally have taken public transport to work only once since before the Olympics started,<sup id=”fnref:fn1”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/09/11/generation-inspired/#fn:fn1”>1</a></sup> and I’ve been pushing myself to get that bit faster on my bike rides.</p> <p>I’ve been thinking of it as something like, “Hoy! It’s the Pendleton-Trott-Kenny-Wiggins effect.” But that’s a bit unwieldy, and misses some names out.</p> <p>It is clear to me, though, that the “generation” that is in their twenties, thirties and yes, forties — and probably older — are out there in bigger numbers than ever before.</p> <p>We’ll see how it holds up as autumn and winter come in, of course. But vastly increased cycling in London? That would really be a worthwhile legacy.</p> <p>Anyway, here’s my <span style=”margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/sets/72157631514832451/”>Flickr set from our second event at the Olympics, namely hockey</a>. Click through to see the pictures bigger and with captions.</span> </p><div style=”padding: 0; overflow: hidden; margin: 0; width: 500px;”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977782300/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Overhead” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8029/7977782300_d9f97d3a0f_s.jpg” alt=”Overhead” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977779599/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Britain vs Australia” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8306/7977779599_cbf50cf012_s.jpg” alt=”Britain vs Australia” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977780693/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Just what blimp is it?” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8170/7977780693_524332f772_s.jpg” alt=”Just what blimp is it?” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977781247/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Hockey up close” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/7977781247_2336298113_s.jpg” alt=”Hockey up close” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977783800/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Hockey teams” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8440/7977783800_c17d54f70e_s.jpg” alt=”Hockey teams” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977784222/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Goooooaaaaaallll!!!!” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8309/7977784222_9664187124_s.jpg” alt=”Goooooaaaaaallll!!!!” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><br clear=”all”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977784930/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Riverbank by night” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8455/7977784930_022b2cec6e_s.jpg” alt=”Riverbank by night” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977783507/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Riverbank by night 2” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8033/7977783507_e1a3e2ed6d_s.jpg” alt=”Riverbank by night 2” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977785994/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”Night match” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8312/7977785994_61cc238e7d_s.jpg” alt=”Night match” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7977784461/in/set-72157631514832451/” title=”A very dull first half” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8312/7977784461_f6e1b32d99_s.jpg” alt=”A very dull first half” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><br clear=”all”></div> <div class=”footnote”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn:fn1”> <p>Admittedly I was on holiday for around three weeks of that time. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/09/11/generation-inspired/#fnref:fn1” title=”Jump back to footnote 1 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> </ol> </div></div>cyclingolympicssporthttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/09/11/generation-inspired/Tue, 11 Sep 2012 22:38:02 GMTOlympics: fencing and more Park viewshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/08/16/olympics-fencing-and-more-park-views/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><div style=”padding: 0; overflow: hidden; margin: 0; width: 500px;”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791822240/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”The Orbit from Westfield.” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8432/7791822240_311a61200d_s.jpg” alt=”The Orbit from Westfield.” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791807586/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”The Park from Westfield” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8430/7791807586_04ce0e067a_s.jpg” alt=”The Park from Westfield” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791819952/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”The fencing pistes” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8423/7791819952_bf84e001e0_s.jpg” alt=”The fencing pistes” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791817504/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”Pre-bout entertainment” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8427/7791817504_7aedff834b_s.jpg” alt=”Pre-bout entertainment” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791815678/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”Flags and screen” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8439/7791815678_3ac0741978_s.jpg” alt=”Flags and screen” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791811632/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”Four at a time” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8295/7791811632_92b606d5c5_s.jpg” alt=”Four at a time” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><br clear=”all”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7791809540/in/set-72157631088589144/” title=”Closeup fight” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7121/7791809540_d23cfc759b_s.jpg” alt=”Closeup fight” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><br clear=”all”></div><div style=”font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px”> <p><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/sets/72157631088589144/”>A Flickr set from our first Olympic event: fencing at ExCeL</a>. We went via Stratford, so we stopped off at the Westfield shopping centre on the way, to look at the view of the Park.</p> <p></p></div></div>ExCeLfencingolympicsorbitphotosstratfordwestfieldhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/08/16/olympics-fencing-and-more-park-views/Thu, 16 Aug 2012 10:27:47 GMTOlympics: some photos from the Parkhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/08/15/olympics-some-photos-from-the-park/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><div style=”padding: 0; overflow: hidden; margin: 0; width: 500px;”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7713222430/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Ring, ring” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8282/7713222430_90caed489a_s.jpg” alt=”Ring, ring” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777635702/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Iconic” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8433/7777635702_aee70696c2_s.jpg” alt=”Iconic” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7713221570/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Passing the rings” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8292/7713221570_e4ed08871c_s.jpg” alt=”Passing the rings” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7713223070/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Velodrome” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7137/7713223070_3df47f7d87_s.jpg” alt=”Velodrome” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777638398/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Orbit” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8301/7777638398_9444eec974_s.jpg” alt=”Orbit” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777640990/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Priorities” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8443/7777640990_d60811d01c_s.jpg” alt=”Priorities” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><br clear=”all”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777643302/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Cauldron” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8423/7777643302_325cc1bcf8_s.jpg” alt=”Cauldron” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777644900/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”RUN!” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8445/7777644900_c90770f9f5_s.jpg” alt=”RUN!” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777646032/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”What?” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7252/7777646032_f5aa32cb59_s.jpg” alt=”What?” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777647764/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Riverside” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8289/7777647764_512d58cceb_s.jpg” alt=”Riverside” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777649322/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Team” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8432/7777649322_f1890e16c0_s.jpg” alt=”Team” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777618134/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Night crowd” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7266/7777618134_eeb02c6811_s.jpg” alt=”Night crowd” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><br clear=”all”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777620668/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Visible from space” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8302/7777620668_a31122c23f_s.jpg” alt=”Visible from space” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777622592/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Water polo and crayons” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8431/7777622592_cdfb93a7b3_s.jpg” alt=”Water polo and crayons” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777624698/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Falling water words” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8296/7777624698_18d01caec0_s.jpg” alt=”Falling water words” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777626804/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Parkland from below” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7109/7777626804_585420bbbe_s.jpg” alt=”Parkland from below” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777630232/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Gloriana” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8290/7777630232_2b7f6807f0_s.jpg” alt=”Gloriana” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777633236/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Surrounded by water” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8286/7777633236_60a7599a3b_s.jpg” alt=”Surrounded by water” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><br clear=”all”><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777619060/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”A very big screen in the city” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7247/7777619060_8782dcc1d6_s.jpg” alt=”A very big screen in the city” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777616322/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”IMG_7494” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8427/7777616322_cccfd10d90_s.jpg” alt=”IMG_7494” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777614346/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Orbit and Stadium by night” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8434/7777614346_815af26dce_s.jpg” alt=”Orbit and Stadium by night” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7777612614/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Broadcast Centre” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7247/7777612614_530209c8db_s.jpg” alt=”Broadcast Centre” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/7713084296/in/set-72157630904008790/” title=”Wenlock by night” style=”text-decoration: none;”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7257/7713084296_5270c01a73_s.jpg” alt=”Wenlock by night” style=”padding: 0 10px 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”></a><img src=”http://l.yimg.com/g/images/gallery-empty-icon.gif” style=”padding: 0 0 10px 0; width: 75px; height: 75px; float: left;”><br clear=”all”></div><div style=”font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px”> <p><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/devilgate/sets/72157630904008790/detail/”>Olympics 1, a set on Flickr; click to see the whole set</a>.</p> </div> <p>This is a Flickr set of some sights around the Olympic Park the first day we were there (which was just a Park visit; no events).</p> <p>(I lied about <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#footnote_4_1523”>not posting photos</a>, by the way.)</p></div>olympic parkolympicsorbitphotosstadiumwenlockhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/08/15/olympics-some-photos-from-the-park/Tue, 14 Aug 2012 23:26:32 GMTOlympian Achievementshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><h3>Initial scepticism</h3> <p>Back in 2004, 2005 or so, when London was bidding to host the Olympics, I was against it. My concerns were the cost, the crowding, and the general disruption of it all. I was, I admit, cynical. I recall being annoyed by the fact that the people running the bid published a number to which you could text “yes”, to say you supported the bid; but there was no option to text “no” to say you opposed it.</p> <p><a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2005/07/06/2012/”>Looking back to what I wrote at the time</a>, I see that my biggest concern was the effect on the Lower Lee Valley. It turned out that the removal of wilderness didn’t stretch as far as my fears suggested; and of course much of the land that has been used was polluted, abandoned, brownfield industrial sites. Bob Stanley of St Etienne (the band) has an <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/24/olympics-changed-lower-lea-valley?mobile-redirect=false”>interesting piece in <cite>The Guardian</cite></a> about that.</p> <h3>Coming round</h3> <p>But then London won the bid, and I though, “OK, fine, it’ll be interesting at least.” I had enjoyed watching the previous ones, and there was the regeneration for East London that looked promising. And the fact that it would just be down the road for me added to the interest. After all, that would make it easier to get tickets, right? Obviously there would specific tickets made available to to locals.</p> <p>Hindsight even makes me wonder whether the <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2005/07/07/today/”>events of the very next day</a> didn’t make me more supportive: blitz spirit, don’t let the bastards grind you down, “<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_power”>soft power</a>”, and all that.</p> <h3>The intervening years</h3> <h4>Worries</h4> <p>In the years since then I’ve gone through various thoughts about the whole thing. Obviously there were the concerns about how long we would be paying for it all. And more recently there were the worries about the security preparations and the expected madness of the precautions. Of course more recently we’ve had the G4S fiasco, and the drafting in of extra soldiers.</p> <p>More bizarrely we’ve seen the growth of the Olympic “brand police”, the forbidding of certain words and combinations of words (including, ridiculously, things like “summer”, “bronze”, and “2012”).</p> <h4>Cycle-friendly or not?</h4> <p>But closer to home one of the things that has annoyed me is the way they’ve treated our towpath.</p> <p>The main stadium sits between two branches of the River Lee (or Lea): the river itself, and the Lee Navigation or Cut, which is essentially a canal constructed as a tributary<sup id=”fnref:trib”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fn:trib”>1</a></sup> of the main river. The towpath of the Navigation is a popular cycling and walking route for us local types. As we watched the construction site form and the massive buildings grow (and in my case <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2012/01/30/your-friendly-olympic-park/”>moaned about the ugly fencing round it</a>), we were able to keep a close eye on it all by going along the towpath. And indeed, a minor, but pleasing, instance of regeneration has been the resurfacing of the towpath, making it much more pleasant to cycle on.<sup id=”fnref:cyc”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fn:cyc”>2</a></sup></p> <p>Above all, it seemed obvious that we would use the towpath to actually get to the Olympic Park. How else?</p> <p>Until a few months ago when it became clear that the towpath was going to be closed for the duration of the games. The reason given — of course — was “security”. But what exactly is the security risk of providing access via the towpath?</p> <p>In all honesty, I had my doubts about its use during the games; but I wasn’t concerned about terrorism. Rather I feared for people’s safety. It’s a towpath, after all: relatively narrow, unfenced, and unlit. And, critically, next to a polluted canal. If thousands — or even only hundreds — of people were trying to leave the park that way all at once — after the opening ceremony, say — then I could see that it would be problematic.</p> <p>So I begin to wonder whether the “security” excuse was brought out to hide the more mundane, but always-criticised-by-the-tabloids truth: health and safety.</p> <p>Then we heard that bikes would be among the banned items in the park; but also that there would be cycle parking: it <em>sounded</em> like mixed messages, but we would have to wait and see.</p> <h4>Those pesky tickets and the getting thereof</h4> <p>Ah, the joys of Olympic ticketing. Even as I write, on the third full day of the Games, they don’t seem to have really sorted it all out.</p> <p>It’s a massively complex task, to allocate and sell tickets for hundreds of events over dozens of venues, all taking place in such a concentrated time period. But it’s not like they’ve never done it before; it’s not even like they haven’t done it in the Internet Age. It should largely be a solved problem, it seems to me.</p> <p>We had decided to treat the Olympics as our family holiday: we would take a couple of weeks off, buy a load of tickets, and that would be our main summer break. After all, it would be just down the road, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, etc. So we signed up for the ballot, spent time listing events we might like to see, and so on. When the time came we hit the website and listed a summer holiday’s worth of tickets (hampered slightly by me having a MasterCard, which of course is the black sheep of Olympic ticket-buying).</p> <p>In the end my beloved was allocated tickets to three events, and I got none (had they detected that invalid-card possession?)</p> <p>However, that was just the initial ballot; and because I had been unsuccessful there, I was entitled to try to buy tickets in the conventional way in the second round.</p> <p>On the day I woke up early and grabbed my laptop. The site, inevitably, crumpled. I went back to sleep for a bit. Tried again later.</p> <p>I don’t recall how long it took, but in the end I managed to get a further three events.</p> <p>And that was that. Remember when I said up there, “it would just be down the road … that would make it easier to get tickets”? Yeah. Somehow that didn’t happen. The Olympics is clearly not meant for the people who live near it. Or not particularly. I’m not suggesting it should be <em>only</em> for locals; but how hard would it have been to allocate a percentage of tickets to residents of host boroughs — or the whole of London — in a first pass? If they didn’t get bought they would be offered on, of course. The answer is “not very”; the <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2012/06/28/weekend-warblers/”>Hackney Weekend</a> festival did exactly that, after all. Glastonbury gives free tickets to residents of the nearby village, I seem to recall.</p> <p>Anyway, that’s where we are. We later added a Paralympic athletics day, which will finally get us into the main stadium; and a set of Olympic Park passes, so we can go and have a wander round and soak up the atmosphere on Wednesday. But as I write there are still tickets available, even for swimming, even for the main stadium.</p> <p>If you’re made of money, at least. Hell, you can still go to the closing ceremony if you’ve got £995 or £1500 to spare.</p> <h3>But still…</h3> <p>But I don’t mean to turn all negative. I’m actually really excited about it all, and thoroughly enjoying everything I’ve seen on telly; especially, of course, Danny Boyle’s masterpiece of an opening ceremony. Much has been said about that elsewhere, so I won’t say a lot. Just that it was far better, and a far truer representation of Britain than we could have imagined, or even hoped for. Part of the fun was following along on Twitter, of course (when it wasn’t too distracting to do so). And my favourite comment of all was one that <a href=”https://twitter.com/MitchBenn”>Mitch Benn</a> retweeted from <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheSimonEvans”>Simon Evans</a>:</p> <blockquote> It’s not that I’m proud to be British. It’s that I’m grateful. </blockquote> <p>So true.</p> <p>And I’ve been enjoying seeing the first few days worth of events on telly. Some thoughts:</p> <ul> <li>The tennis is just like Wimbledon, except with colour, and Omega timing instead of IBM. And “London 2012” logos, of course.</li> <li>I normally go from one Wimbledon to the next without watching any sport; now, suddenly, I’m almost fanatical about everything (except boxing and anything with horses; and archery is much more boring than you might expect).</li> <li>Seeing those cyclists in the road races made me want to get on my bike; not for those kind of distances, though.</li> <li>Similarly, badminton &amp; table tennis; maybe there will be a knock-on effect on people doing sport after all.</li> </ul> <p>I should write about legacy (and sustainability<sup id=”fnref:2012”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fn:2012”>3</a></sup>), but I’ve gone on long enough, and anyway, it’s another whole discussion. But I cycled down that way on Saturday; along the part of the towpath that’s still open, across Hackney Marshes (by a new, temporary path) and to the bridge across the river where there is access via Eton Manor Gate. There is a vast cycle park there, and from the gate it’s only supposed to be a few minutes walk to, for example, the Basketball Arena. So it’s all good.<sup id=”fnref:2013”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fn:2013”>4</a></sup></p> <p>We visit the park on Wednesday, and start seeing actual events from Friday. I may report back.<sup id=”fnref:photo”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fn:photo”>5</a></sup></p> <div class=”footnote”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn:trib”> <p>Or really an inverted tributary, as it forks off the main river in a downstream direction. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fnref:trib” title=”Jump back to footnote 1 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> <li id=”fn:cyc”> <p>There are still a few spots of cobblestones, but we can cope with those. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fnref:cyc” title=”Jump back to footnote 2 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> <li id=”fn:2012”> <p>Yes, that’s a <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01f87nh”><cite>Twenty Twelve</cite></a> reference; if you haven’t watched it, you should. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fnref:2012” title=”Jump back to footnote 3 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> <li id=”fn:2013”> <p>Yes, so was that. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fnref:2013” title=”Jump back to footnote 4 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> <li id=”fn:photo”> <p>But under <em>no circumstances</em> will I post photos, OK? <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/#fnref:photo” title=”Jump back to footnote 5 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> </ol> </div></div>2012Britain todaycyclingolympicssporttennishttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/07/30/olympian-achievements/Mon, 30 Jul 2012 22:12:57 GMTYour Friendly Olympic Parkhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/01/30/your-friendly-olympic-park/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>This is the view from the banks of the Lea (or Lee) by the Olympic Park:</p> <p><img src=”http://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/OlympicSecurity1.jpg” alt=”OlympicSecurity1” title=”OlympicSecurity1.jpg” border=”0” width=”600” height=”450” style=”float:left;”></p> <p>Let’s take a closer look at that attractive fence:</p> <p><img src=”http://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/OlympicSecurity2.jpg” alt=”OlympicSecurity2” title=”OlympicSecurity2.jpg” border=”0” width=”600” height=”450” style=”float:left;”></p> <p>Lovely, eh?</p> <p>I hope they take it all away and make it nice and open, but I suspect they won’t, at least until after the Games.</p></div>microblogolympicssecurityhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2012/01/30/your-friendly-olympic-park/Mon, 30 Jan 2012 22:44:24 GMT2012https://devilgate.org/blog/2005/07/06/2012/Martin McCallion<p>So, <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/olympics2012/story/0,14174,1522509,00.html”>London gets it</a>.  I was against it, but now I feel strangely pleased.</p> <p>I think I was for it at first; I really enjoyed watching the Athens Olympics last summer, the kids enjoyed it, and the idea of having one just down the road sounded great.  But then I looked at the plans, and turned against it.  The main reason for my opposition was the effects that I think it will have on the<a href=”http://www.lowerleavalley.com/masterplan_ol.html”> Lower Lea (or Lee) Valley</a>.  As far as I can tell, our beloved wilderness will be turned into bland parkland, with the associated loss of wildlife habitat.</p> <p>However, it may not be as bad as all that, and there’s no doubt that the potential regeneration here in East London — in particular the transport improvements — could be great.</p> <p>My other concern is, of course, the cost, and how we taxpayers may be paying for it for decades.</p> <p>But what the hell: my kids will be 15 and 11 in 2012, so it  should be fantastic for them.</p> kidsolympicspoliticstransporthttps://devilgate.org/blog/2005/07/06/2012/Wed, 06 Jul 2005 12:44:00 GMT