Heathrow’s luggage handlers are bracing themselves for a back-breaking day on Monday, when all of the Olympians who have trickled into London over the past few weeks head home in one fell swoop. Worse yet, the airport expects the average number of bags to rise from two pieces of luggage per athlete to three.
Which raises the question: how many London 2012 T-shirts, double-decker bus keychains and stuffed Paddington Bears does it take to fill a whole other suitcase?
Well, it turns out quite a bit of the space will be taken up by bedding, since it has become Olympic tradition for athletes to take home the duvets provided in their rooms.
One person who consulted on furnishings at the Stratford athletes’ village says, “actually, they take as much as they can”. But the duvets are an official gift.
The Beijing blankets (below), “more of a woollen rug” according to a Locog spokeswoman, were easy to pack. Athens organisers did not provide much more than towels and the Salt Lake City team left the blankets unbranded – not quite what you want out of souvenir bedding.
London’s summer Olympians can count themselves unique as they stand over open suitcases trying to figure out whether folding, rolling or squishing is the most efficient packing technique.
Incidentally, the London duvets (above) were designed by the retailer Next, but civilians can’t buy them. Or rather, can’t quite: £40 will get you a very near replica, 52 per cent polyester to 48 per cent cotton, in a slightly more turquoisey blue. Note, however, that the more authentic, single-bed size has already sold out.