Enough of the screaming roars of London 2012 crowds. All is silent and reverential at the Copper Box in Stratford’s Olympic Park.
The venue for Olympic handball is now hosting goalball, played by blind Paralympians or those with partial sight.
Blindfolded to ensure all players have equal (dis)ability, the three players on each side defend a goal 1.3m high and 9m wide.
Goals are scored by rolling the ball at high speeds of up to 60kms an hour. Players defending their goals prostrate themselves across the court to prevent shots going into their net.
All of which requires silence from the crowd so that the players can hear the ball charging towards them. Read more
A private jet, and a limo… Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
Ahead of the Olympics, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority was expecting upwards of 10,000 flights by general aviation aircraft – that is, anything from hang gliders to transatlantic private jets – during the busy games period.
The authorities prepared by asking ACL, the country’s co-ordinator of airport take-off and landing slots, to take management of 40 air fields in the south-east of England (some critics argued this was going overboard). And they demanded that people entering the games’ restricted airspace on private aircraft receive security clearance before take-off.
But the numbers so far suggest any influx of Olympic private flyers is merely making up for others avoiding London. ACL reports that 7,400 of the general aviation slots have been booked for the period between July 21st and August 15th – just a few hundred more movements than in a normal year.
“It’s looking busy but manageable,” says a spokesman for the CAA.
Darren Grover, chief operating officer at London City Airport, has seen the trend on the ground. The airport lies just four miles from the Olympic park and within a few javelin throws of the ExCel Centre, where, Mr Grover points out, Team GB has won many of its medals. (ExCel hosts boxing, judo, wrestling, fencing, taekwondo, weightlifting and table tennis.) Read more
The stands at Olympic events are dotted with small children. Their parents have usually kitted them out in expensive replica kits. It is clearly all meant to be a great family day out, a treasured memory and so on. But, usually, it does not work out like that.
The problem is that the average five year-old has limited patience with watching the heats for the women’s shot put – even if the tickets were fiendishly expensive and hard to get hold of. Young children are also bad at dissembling. I was in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning, as Jessica Ennis closed in on gold in the heptathalon. The adults in the crowd were going crazy, as she prepared for the long-jump. But the child behind me, made it clear that he was much more interested in eating a Kit-Kat. As the morning wore on, his hapless parents were ground down by their toddler’s repeated question – “Is that one Usain Bolt?” After a couple of hours, Bolt actually did appear to run his heat. But the kid had long since interest and was now campaigning to go for a wee. Read more
Top flight football teams have, increasingly, become international. Similarly, for the Olympic football, are the spectators, who are giving the terraces a League of Nations atmosphere.
Brazil’s game against New Zealand at St James’ Park in Newcastle yesterday even drew a group of visitors from Mongolia, a distance of nearly 6,000 miles, to cheer on Brazil, who won three-nil. Read more
Great Britain's Helen Glover (R) and Heather Stanning in the women's pair heat 1 of the rowing event at Eton Dorney on July 28 (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/GettyImages)
At Eton Dorney, the crowds lining the 2,000m course that is home to Eton College’s rowing teams are already enormous and it is only just past 9am. The system for getting people into the course is incredibly efficient and spectators have been restricted only by the speed with which they can walk.
Even the press have stopped moaning here at Eton Dorney, not least because they can get a hot bacon roll for breakfast.
The rowing competition is all over by 12.30, so it’s definitely a sport for early risers. Which is precisely the reason why I didn’t pursue it myself at university! Read more
Unlike my more privileged colleagues, I do not have a press pass. I have been taking part in the spectator marathon – which had been advertised as a grim and gruelling event.
On Saturday I set myself a tough challenge – get to the Excel centre for the boxing. Unlike the main Olympic Park, which is served by several Underground lines, the Excel can only be reached by the Docklands Light Railway. I have always thought of the DLR as a toy-town system of the sort beloved by urban planners, but useless for actually getting around. In the event, however, we whizzed through Docklands and even got seats on the train.
Spectators are advised to get to events two hours early, to get through heavy security checks. But we actually breezed through in minutes. Even the emergency deployment of the military as security guards appears to have added a dimension to the experience. People were actually posing for photos with the soldiers – which I cannot imagine them doing with the average G4S security guard, whose uniforms are rather less fetching. Read more