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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor