Robin Scott-Elliot: BBC coverage needed Boris bombing into the Olympic pool
View From The Sofa: Olympics, BBC1; World Cup draw Sky Sports news
Monday 01 August 2011
The biggest surprise about the opening of the London Aquatics Centre, or bathing pool as Boris Johnson no doubt calls it, was that the man himself didn't end up in it. When the Velodrome was unveiled BoJo had followed Norman Tebbit's instruction and got on a bike, but last week there was to be no Johnson in a roomy pair of flowery trunks bombing – he surely enters the water no other way – into the pool with a cry of "Geronimo". He was not to be denied, later seizing the day with a marvellously rambling speech in Trafalgar Square. It was the highlight of the BBC's first dip into 2012.
There is a mayoral election before the Games and whatever your political persuasion the Olympics without Boris would be markedly less entertaining. Every public Olympic step has so far been... What's the word? Dogged? Coloured? Tarnished? Embellished? Actually, the only word is "Borised" by a splash of Johnson.
The look on Jacques Rogge's face as Johnson praised and lambasted Swiss chronologers was of a man beginning to doubt whether he can really speak word-perfect English as he struggles to understand the thoughts of the mayor of one of the world's most important cities. In his native Belgium they make do without government, a point Rogge perhaps mumbled to Sebastian Coe as Boris suggested a "Snap Olympics". Snap is not, Rogge might have added, an Olympic sport. Not yet.
It was in Beijing that Johnson first got stuck into the Olympics. Remember his flag-waving at the handover ceremony? Not for the first time he resembled a character created in a unique collaboration between JK Rowling and the Beano.
Johnson should not be wasted over the next year. Instead of the BBC's Olympic Dreams about earnest young athletes striving to make the event of a lifetime, they should commission "Boris Does..." where the mayor tries out Olympic sports in front of an iconic London landmark. For instance, Boris does artistic gymnastics in the monkey enclosure at London Zoo, or Boris does the marathon round Hampton Court maze. It could be presented by the bouncy Jake Humphreys, who has time on his hands now that the BBC have decided to share Formula One.
Humphreys was in ebullient mood fronting the countdown programme alongside Sophie Raworth. The BBC will no doubt throw the kitchen sink at the Games, although having decided to shift the sports department to Salford before it starts, it will have to be an Olympian heave. It will be interesting to see if they attempt a balanced approach or whether they follow the Australian example of 2000 where a home medal in the kangaroo shearing (a demonstration event) was given greater airtime than a world record in the 200m.
The other greatest show on earth was back in business on Saturday with the draw for the World Cup. Sky Sports News had an Englishman, Scotsman, Welshman, Northern Irishman and Irishman in the studio. But there was nothing to laugh about as they sat for an eternity making polite conversation while the breaking news caption scrolled information such as Nicaragua or Bahamas (which would you prefer?) complete a group in Concacaf, which stands for something long forgotten but remains a shining example of the creative use of initials in sport.
Finally we reached the European draw. Out came Luxembourg. "They have never qualified for the World Cup," intoned the presenter as if announcing a royal death. I am not convinced he knew what was going on, and there wasn't even a Boris in sight.
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