Summer Sportsblog: Opening Ceremony should not be undercut by poor scheduling

Seven years after the camera at Trafalgar Square was sent juddering by the sheer screams of jubilation on the announcement of London as Olympic Games host 2012, the waiting is finally over. I write this late Friday morning, approximately eight hours before the official Opening Ceremony.

Last night, brief clips from final rehearsal were broadcast, the first time the outside world has glimpsed Danny Boyle’s very British extravaganza. Amongst the tasters unveiled included Strictly Come Dancing competitors dancing with women dressed as district nurses, and performers riding bicycles whilst wearing giant wings coated in luminous paint.

Unless I dreamt all this, this confirms many suspicions as to what the ceremony was always going to be like – lots of craziness, with a healthy scoop of self-aware humour and just a touch of being a bit shit.

In other words, just like Britain itself. Eight hours cannot pass quickly enough.

However, it annoys me that this British extravaganza is not the true beginning of the Olympic games. Instead, that occurred two days prior, in a totally different country, with a sport that many people feel shouldn’t be an Olympic sport at all.

Team GB (a name that itself provokes a slight twinge of annoyance at its corporate-brand-appeal feel) kicked off their home campaign when the Women’s football team beat New Zealand 1-0 on Wednesday at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

I should put my hand up straight away and say I fully support football being an Olympic sport. Those who disagree should try watching  Cameroon’s epic run to victory at the 1996 Olympics, the first gold that country ever won.

We invented football, now the world’s most popular sport, so it deserves to be a part of the Olympics in London – although clearly one of the host cities should have been Sheffield, home of the world’s first organized football club, Sheffield FC.

As for future games, you can try telling the Brazilians they shouldn’t host soccer in Rio De Janeiro in 2016. Football is in the Olympics to stay, but I feel it’s form must be changed.

Firstly, the opening game should be in the city which actually is hosting the Olympics in question. The British women’s football team doesn’t have any Welshwomen in it anyway, which perhaps is part of the explanation for the embarrassingly sparse crowd which watched the encounter. All that did was broadcast a worrying to those watching round the world, that we don’t really care that much about hosting the world’s single largest organised event.

My other gripe is with hosting sports of any kind prior to the opening ceremony. If you can’t fit your schedule into the two weeks, then maybe you need to cut it down. Currently the Men’s event has 16 teams, the Women’s 12. Have twelve in each, or have 12 for Men and eight for women. Either way, the current system doesn’t work.

Once the games actually got started, I watched both the men and women’s openers, and have a comment on both –  the women need  to be more clinical to have any impact beyond the quarter finals, and the men look like a bunch of unfit, unprepared strangers who failed to beat what looks like the group’s weakest side, and could face early elimination.


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