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Yesterday was, as you may be forgiven for having missed, an auspicious day.

Why? Yet another Olympic milestone was passed as it was 200 days before the start of the Olympics, marked by what will no doubt be an extravagent and impressive Opening Ceremony.

The white elephant in the room?

The Olympics are starting to look a little out of place amid unrest in the middle east, Government cut backs closer to home and sluggish economic forecasts.

So, have the Olympics become an uncomfortable reminder of the boom before the bust? You tell me.

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Last Thursday, 20/10/2011, Fran, Charlie, Bianca, Claudia, Kaspian and I were lucky enough to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, a beautiful town on the edge of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. This post was written towards the end of a wonderful day.

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Today has been something of a whirlwind; up at 3:30 am, on the plane for 6:45 am and on a private tour of the museum by 10:30. The Olympic Museum has been open for eighteen years now, which almost seems like quite a short amount of time considering the hundreds of years of history that is encapsulated within the spiraling four walls of the building which also hosts the International Olympic Committee whenever they convene.

So, what can be taken away from today?
First and foremost today has confirmed to me that the Olympics can be a force for change and not only can they be, they should be for it is these principles and others like them upon which the modern Olympics are based. Equally it is clear that the Olympics past and present are full of contradictions. Avery Brundage, an American athlete and President of the IOC from 1952-1972 ,outlined his vision of the games;

“The Olympic Games must not be an end in itself, they must be a means of creating vast programme of physical education and sports competitions for all young people.”  Avery Brundage 

A vision which holds true to this day, we won the games in part because of the focus that was placed on the inclusion of young people. Yet Brundage was vehemently opposed to female competitors saying “I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors… her charms sink to something less than zero.” 

Clearly two views which don’t tally up with each other in 2011 but the fact that the Olympic Museum , run by the IOC is perfectly happy to expose its own failings was a real breath of fresh air. In the same room as Usain Bolt’s 100m final jersey is an entire wall dedicated to the issue of doping and the games. To me this seems to be a clear message from the IOC to the countries it gives the games to; everybody makes mistakes, including the IOC and host countries, what’s important is that we face up to these mistakes whilst celebrating our triumphs. Sentiments that some would do well to take note of.

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The Tate modern art gallery has announced it’s chosen artist for the turbine hall during the Olympics will be Tino Sehgal. Whilst the exhibition will be running from April to October of 2012 the fact that the Olympics take place during that time is key as the work heads up the Tate’s offering to the ‘London 2012 festival’ which will run from June of 2012.

Alongside this will be the first major UK retrospective of British artist Damien Hirst’s work. Perhaps it would’ve been nicer if the Tate had really gone out on a limb for it’s 2012 programming, I’d of loved it if they had decided to fill the spaces with up and coming British artists rather than the works of a multimillionaire artist who has arguably passed the high point of his celebrity and popularity.

I know it may not necessarily be the Tate’s style to put on anything other than shows of well established artists and styles, often leaving out the more controversial pieces even within those collections. But is a retrospective really the sort of art which embodies the Olympic spirit? I’m not so sure.


 

Top 5 Olympic tickets as Channel 4 see it


[EDIT: It seems that I may have to be using my inexperience, youthful enthusiasm and the resulting lack of good journalistic research which should have accompanied this story as an excuse for my rather embarrassing discovery that whilst Johnson may have described the feat in rather strange terms, they did ACTUALLY wipe rhubarb onto the wood which  sweeps around my favourite Olympic venue. Although one assumes the process was at least a little more scientific than a quick ‘wipe’ with a few sticks of rhubarb , it is rather lovely that such a strange sounding thing is actually true]

I am afraid that this little nugget of craziness only Boris Johnson could come up with is as usual not a fake, even if it is quite funny.

At the opening of the Velodrome on Tuesday the 22nd when speaking about the cladding around the stadium he said:

“The secret to that rosy hue is that it is achieved by rubbing it with rhubarb. It is lovingly rubbed with rhubarb. Therefore it creates jobs for the British rhubarb industry and also helped to create a new craft — that of English rhubarb rubbing, that will go on and on, So it represents a fantastic investment for sport and society.”

Perhaps I’ve got my facts wrong and they really did rub rhubarb into the wood, in which case I can only wonder at what he said next in an attempt to out do the unbelievable reality in someway.


 

Olympic Velodrome (source: "mmmlovley")

A whole host of exciting pieces of Olympic news have been reported in the last couple of weeks, which I could have blogged on a little better.

First came the announcement on the 11th of February that West Ham’s bid for use of the main stadium after the games had been given approval by the OPLC (Olympic Park Legacy Company) , and with approval from Boris Johnson and the Government considered something of a formality. Personally I’m really happy with way things have gone, West Ham far outstripped Tottenham on legacy by keeping the running track in place.

On the 14th of February the Olympic schedule was announced , with the opening ceremony on the 27th of July and the closing ceremony on the 12th. The Paralympic schedule is due to be announced later this year.

The Velodrome became the first venue in the Olympic Park to be opened on the 22nd of February (click trough the link to see some images, certainly my favourite venue so far) it joins Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour (Sailing) and Broxborne (Canoeing and Kayaking) in the list of completed Olympic venues.


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Here at Headstart we’ve been busy and today I was lucky enough to interview Nathan Hanson, a fellow member of the Social Media group and a young athlete. We spoke about what he thinks should be done with the Olympic  Park after the worlds media, spectators and athletes have packed up and gone home.

An audio preview of the interview.

Nathan believes that the key part of the Parks’s and the Olympic legacy as a whole is making sure that the space is used  for community projects and sports.

For many Londoners, Nathan included, ensuring that the Olympics help to foster the talents of tomorrows as well as todays aspiring athletes for  many years to come is what will truly make the games a once in a lifetime event.


As you may have heard the Olympic Stadium is up for sale, with two bids for LOCOG to consider, one from Totenham Hotspur and the other from West Ham.

So, what are the issues?

  • West Ham say they ‘want to create a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use.’
  • Totenham Hotspur argue that their bid is more financially viable than that of West Ham’s who may face relegation this season.
  • Totenham’s bid involves reducing capacity to 80,000 , and removing the running track. Some say this runs counter to the comitments made by London of a strong legacy and space for athletes.
  • Totenham’s instead propose renovating crystal palace running facilities to ensure a legacy.
  • Finally Leyton Orient, an historic east London club have voiced their concerns over the effects of any club taking over after 2012, they say :

“The impact on Leyton Orient will be huge. The prospect of excess capacity leading to discounted tickets and the broader appeal of the floating fans of a more high-profile club threatens to swamp us.”

This map shows just how close Orient is to the Olympic Stadium.

About Me

As a part of a project with youth charity 'A New Direction' a group of young Londoners and I blog about the London Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012. Check out my twitter feed bellow and return here for updates on what ever Olympic or Paralympic issues have got me going each week!

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