The haters were proved wrong. There were many moaning tweets, blogs and articles before the games about the sheer cost of the undertaking and how the billions could have been spent better on police or the NHS or schools. Which is true to a degree but if you’re not holding celebratory events like the Olympics that are incredibly positive and unite the whole population in joyful outpourings, what’s the point in living longer anyway?
This might just be the best branded Olympics there’s ever been. Forget about the strange form of the logo and the odd typeface, as a marque it’s worked extremely well: sitting in all sorts of odd positions, from the centre of a boxing ring to sponsor’s adverts, it’s proved unique and highly recognisable. Having had a look some applications of the Rio logo, as lovely as the typeface and colours are, it only really works in one fixed position, which means it’s always going to have to sit on a white background. In London the use of colour has been one of the nicest touches, as the event tickets were same colour as the hoardings, decoration, backdrops in that venue (water polo = blue, boxing = red, athletics = purple etc).
TfL deserve credit for clearing out the transport network. Some people are going to get the wrong end of the stick and say it was scare-mongering but you’ve got to say the previous couple of years spent telling everyone how they had to avoid public transport because it was going to be unbearable really did work. Workers and employers totally bought into it and for those of us that were left, the empty tubes made London feel like a different city for a couple of weeks.
The park was a great piece of design. Having so many venues so close together; wandering around eating overpriced hog roast; watching face-painted fancy-dressed masses trooping around; chilling out late into the evening; being surrounded be greenery and flora. It made me think this was the closest you could get to a sporting music festival and there certainly was some of that Glastonbury-style atmosphere in the air.
Great support everywhere, across each event I watched. The ticket ballot was kind to me and I managed to get to five different events and venues and what I saw there was that Britain has proved itself a nation (or nations) of sport lovers. As a set of supporters we usually know a little about every sport and even the ones we don’t, like handball, we were prepared to throw ourselves whole-heartedly into cheering the players like they were our local club. And the Brits do still love an underdog as I witnessed by the crowd’s uncanny knack at the boxing of always backing the fighter who was going to lose.
Refreshing your phone and spreading medal news in public became the new talking about the weather. Everyone was at it across the city, even tannoy announcers in stations. Telling strangers of the latest exploits of our boys and girls against the world must be what it was like to live through World War 2 (well, minus the shit bits).
The BBC justified the whole license fee in the last two weeks. They’d been planning for a long time for this and promised to show every minute of sport and they only went and did just that and then some. Accompanied by an excellent panel of informed experts, they gave a new definition of public service broadcasting.
Despite the love and life affirming nature of the games they really are a one-off. Combining all these disparate sports under one banner is a ridiculous undertaking really and nothing like it is likely to start up soon that could rival it. They’re greater for the fact that they only happen once every four years. After this we’ll fall back into our old ways of sport watching (football mainly) and I for one am not ready yet. I remember being hit equally hard by this feeling after England’s amazing Ashes triumph in 2005, when all I wanted to do was watch more test cricket. It’s like wanting the school summer holidays in your childhood to never end as you try to cling onto those long evenings. I’m just glad that there’s the Paralympics to help with the recovery…