Daily Archives: August 9, 2012

Helen Warrell

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

During the past two weeks of Olympic mania, the UK media has been unashamedly blinded by gold.

Even the most cynical of British hacks were more interested in the country’s growing medal tally than the logistical arrangements which had occupied thousands of column inches in the months leading up to the games.

But as the closing ceremony approaches, perhaps it is time to take stock of the UK’s organisational performance – specifically on security. The plans laid by games organisers and the Home Office hit a last-minute setback when it emerged only days before the event that G4S, a private contractor, would not be able to provide the promised 10,400 venue guards and the army would have to step in to cover the shortfall. At the time, the company said that it would only be able to guarantee around 5,000 guards for the start of the games, so what have they actually delivered?

G4S was proudly tweeting earlier this week that 7,500 of its staff were working at games venues and that the additional 3,500 military drafted in to make up the numbers were being withdrawn.

Things have not gone entirely smoothly, however.

A tented village designed to promote the culture of African countries taking part in the Olympics has been forced to close amid reports of financial difficulties.

A person familiar with the Africa Village project, which cost about €3m (£2.4m), said there had been problems paying suppliers of the exhibits, which in particular affected the contractors providing security. Read more >>

This man at the 2012 Olympic Games likes pin badges (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

This man at the 2012 Olympic Games likes pin badges (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

The unofficial Olympic sport of pin-badge collecting and trading has taken off during the lulls between competition for the real bling on the water here in Weymouth.

One security guard around the Weymouth and Portland sailing regatta venue is sporting a chestful of team badge souvenirs on his chest accreditation lanyard but, rather unsportingly, he and his colleagues  insisted on keeping tight-lipped about their pastime. When asked for an interview and a picture of the collection – Asian pins are the most sought after this games – they would only say they were under strict orders not to speak to anyone, and would not even say which company they were working for.

Perhaps they should lighten up, as the winds have done overnight, preventing the medal race for the men’s 470 dinghy race getting under way at the scheduled 1pm race-off for the medals.

British pairing Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience, guaranteed at least silver, are going head-to-head against Aussies Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page.

With just four points separating the two teams at the top of the leaderboard there was everything to play for in the double-points race, which is expected to turn into a match-racing duel. Read more >>

China's Xu Lijia celebrates winning gold in the Laser Radial sailing class on August 6 (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages)

China's Xu Lijia celebrates winning gold in the Laser Radial sailing class on August 6 (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages)

Almost two weeks of dazzling action on the water in Weymouth have taken place amid mixed reports of business benefits for local tradespeople, prompting headlines in local newspapers such as: ‘So where is everybody?’.

But Simon Williams, head of Weymouth and Portland 2012 Operations, insists the authorities have delivered on their objectives to stage events that were a success for athletes and spectators, particularly on the Nothe area, the first such ticketed site for Olympic spectators.

“There may be a mixed picture, but overall we had 70,000 visitors in the town over the main [middle] weekend and you cannot rent a house or flat in Portland,” said Williams.

“We have done much to diversify the business market to a whole range of businesses and the TV coverage has been outstanding, showing the geography of the place and the quality of the environment. It’s the first international sailing event held at a world heritage site… There are real and tangible benefits for the long term.” Read more >>