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Olympics: Festival Of London

  • August 23rd, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

olympics-london-4.jpgLondon’s Olympic festival unwinds towards a reluctant end, after the closing ceremony on 12.8.12, and with the Paralympics commencing on Wednesday (29.8.12); fittingly another high performance contest.

At the home of “living on thin air” service industries, the season in London has been a triumph of promotion, marketing and organisation, assisted with good luck (no heavy rain to speak of), and vast spending.

STREET PARTY

olympics-london-1.jpg olympics-london-2a.jpg Good will abounded in the city streets during the “Games” fortnight, the cosmopolitan Olympic crowds boosting normal pedestrian traffic by over a quarter at any time. (Pictures: Regent Street; debriefing volunteers).

Noted:

•    Vast popularity of the security forces, soldiers and the “Old Bill” relaxing as the last days of the Olympics approached, to socialise with the visitors.
olympic-london-3.jpg

•    Many Brazilian people, decked out in gold and green, revving up for their turn to put on the party, at Rio de Janiero in 2016.

•    Heavy traffic at the Hyde Park “arena”, and similar gathering places like Brighton (picture; turning on some warm and sunny days). In a cyber-society, cheering your favourites on one of the big screens, with thousands of “friends”, must count for just the same as the real thing at the stadiums. brighton-2.jpg

MEDALS TABLES

us-flag-reduced.gifIn the competition, it was predictably another year for sporting domination by the United States, topping the medals table (104 medals, including 46 gold).

Chinese athletes led the billing for a time and emerged second (88,38), a follow-on to their break-through performances at Beijing last time.

“Team GB”, (both well prepared for the field and most professionally imaged and merchandised), in coming third (65,29), completed the return of the United Kingdom, the inventor of modern sports, to top billing.

PREPARING THE SUPER-ATHLETES

A beaming British Prime Minister, David Cameron, declared on the last day (12.8.12) he would keep up the money for the team – setting the figure at 125-million pounds (A$189.12-million; xe.com, 23.8.12) per year, right through to Rio.

Much of this was welcomed in Australia, provider of the lion’s share of foreign expertise in the scientific preparation of athletes, and in games management.

The outcome underscored belief in intense and professionalised standards of preparation, first ventured into with the formation of the Australian Institute of Sport. It turned around a trend to lackluster outcomes for the national team in the late 1970s and 1980s.

france-flag.jpg(France also picked up on well-funded preparation. Visitors to Paris see with their own eyes the evidence: a huge judo centre, pools, new training facilities. The swimming team came out of nowhere to displace the Australians. Said Le Monde: “Two Olympic golds for swimming in an hour, from a nation that up to that point had only a total of three, … in 1952, 2004 and 2008.” A forensic treatment of results by The Times showed the great majority of medals, 258, were won by countries where English was an official language; but Francophone countries emerged well-placed, with 76).

AUSTRALIA DOWN ON GOLDS

australia-flag-1.jpgAustralia was 9th this time, on tables giving due precedence to the value of gold, e.g. BBC.

It was 5th in the number of medals (with 35), on total-of-medals tables such as those kept by Yahoo or the Huffington Post. However, being down on gold ones (7), it was bested by others such as France (34,11), Hungary (15,8) or South Korea (27, 13).

It the tally of golds was weak for a large team, major crowds were unconcerned when turning out this week for lunch-time parades in capital cities of Australia, to greet the returned athletes and send off the paralympians.

Absence of an Australian gold rush was noticed with some relish here and there, as with the journalist in England, in the first week, who made it to the front page of the International Herald Tribune (7.8.12) saying “Australia loses its bragging rights”.

A BBC radio reporter, a little behind on his backgrounding for the interview, challenged the champion Australian hurdler, Sally Pearson from the Queensland Gold Coast. How did she feel about being on a losing team? “We’ve actually done pretty well”, she said, mentioning her own gold medal and two that had just been won in the sailing.

EUROPE’S GAMES

Australian contenders in women’s competition fared better in the ratings than the men. The Ugandan runner Stephen Kiprotich, ended things on the last day of the Olympic Games(12.8.12), making a late surge to win the final event, men’s marathon.

eu-flag-movement.jpgThe European Union, if competing in a bloc, would again be hands-down winners of the Games; (see EUAustralia Online, “Europe’s triumph”, 30.8.08). Add together only the figures for France, Hungary and the United Kingdom, with Germany (44, 11) and Italy (28,8); the outcome is clear: 186,67 – with more to come from among 22 other EU members.

Reference

BBC Sports, London, Sport, Olympics, London 2012, Medal table, 12.8.12.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/medals/countries, (23.8.12).

Christopher Clarey, “Australia loses its bragging rights”, IHT, Paris, p 1, 7.8.12.

Huffington Post, NY, Oly7mpic medal count, 12.8.12.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/olympic-medal-count-2012-standings_n_1756771.html, (23.8.12).

Le Monde, Paris, “Londres 2012: Passage de relais”. Cahier du Monde 21003, 31.7.12, p 1.

The Times, London, “Deconstructing the medal table”, p 13, 11.8.12.

Yahoo Sports, Sunnyvale – Calif., “Olympic Medals Totals …”, 12.8.12. http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/medals.html, (23.8.12).

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