Leading article: Only three days gone – but we're off to a flier

Share
Related Topics

Just one euphoric night and three days in, we realise that we risk being awarded the wooden spoon in the sport of rushing to judgement. Even at this early stage in the London Olympics, however, it can escape no one that there are lessons that have been, and can still, be learnt.

First: vying with Beijing. For the opening ceremony, London, in the capable, quirky imagination of Danny Boyle, did not even try. The UK chose a different discipline, but one that played no less to its strengths than Beijing's ultra-regimented extravaganza did to its. So what if some of its language was not universal, or (thanks, NBC) there were sections deemed too downbeat for a viewership trained in The Wizard of Oz? It worked.

Second: empty seats. One of London's stated priorities was to avoid the banks of vacant seats that so blighted Beijing. Yet this is precisely what met competitors at some of the most oversubscribed events – to universal indignation. The speed with which some of these seats were, first, made available to those in the park, then released for sale, is to be commended. But if, as it appears, the villains are less the commercial sponsors than national sporting associations and, oh dear, the media, the greater fallout could be for organisers in Rio, who may find themselves trying to curb the appetite of the "Olympic family" for tickets.

Third: transport. The capital's much-maligned network has so far coped – fingers crossed. Some 80,000 people left the stadium at 1am after the Opening Ceremony without undue delays. Hundreds of thousands went to various venues over the weekend and presumably, judging by the lack of complaints, arrived home again. Yesterday's London morning rush-hour passed off quietly, as the city's workforce followed instructions to stagger starts, work from home, or grin and bear it. In the – perhaps unlikely – event that this continues, there are questions that will be asked, such as: if London's transport can work reliably for the Olympics, why not always? Do so many people need to work in central London? Granted that the "ZiL" lanes should not be extended a moment longer than necessary, might there not be an argument for tougher restrictions on cars and deliveries?

Fourth: international perspective. This is London 2012, and it is natural that the home audience will gravitate towards the sports in which Team GB excels. But the emphasis on these sports to the virtual exclusion of others, even with the plethora of "red button" TV options, risks diminishing some of the uniqueness of London as a global metropolis and the Olympics as a showcase for a host of sports with which British viewers are less familiar.

Fifth: who's counting? It is early days, but something of this same parochialism fosters an unseemly preoccupation with "our" medal count. It would be a pity if it was a dearth of Team GB medals – rather than a recognition that numbers are not everything – that led the BBC to stop harping on the medal tally. But it would be useful to know more broadly who was winning the medals when it was not Team GB. There is still time to get this right.

Sixth: the shared national experience. Much has been made of the very British knack of evincing scorn or apathy about some national endeavour, only to embrace it in the best possible spirit at the 11th hour. London 2012 already looks like a classic of the genre. But the value of an experience in which everyone can take pride should not be trivialised. The benevolent holiday atmosphere that has prevailed since Friday and the roof-raising support shown for home competitors are already making the country feel better, about itself and about the world.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits