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“Knowing Christ is the best thing that has ever happened to me, although winning the US Open was a pretty good second.”

Alison Nicholas

Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2)

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Volume Two: Celebrating the Games, Vassil Girgov (Ed), London, Routledge, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-138-69453-8

The book consists of 21 chapters in the following five parts – Britain welcomes the world, experiencing the games, science technology and celebrity, seizing the Olympic platform and documenting the Games - followed by conclusions.

The book balances the unexpected success of volunteer ambassadors and the ability of public transport to cope with the negative issues of ticket allocation, unused seats at venues and the G4S fiasco. Another negative was the unceremoniously closing of the Olympic Park immediately after the Games finished, symbolically saying: “London’s feel good period also ended”.. There was also the suggestion that the Games struggled to live up to what politicians had promised on its behalf.

One fascinating issue which permeates the book is “the competing interests of staging the games, ensuring corporate support, selling the city to visitors and placating local interests to see the city and the Games as their own.”

I had no idea that the LOCOG had outsourced interviewing and training the 70,000 games makers to McDonalds who were also in charge of training. This resulted in “the very biological life of the games maker becoming subject to McDonald’s training and guidance.” While there was criticism of some unrealistic expectations of volunteers it is suggested that most Gamesmakers’ experiences were overwhelmingly positive.

Others interesting aspects were the assessment of LOCOG’s role, how the Games became the Twitter Olympics, TV coverage of the Games, how the Games, over the years have been used as a platform to promote various causes or protests.

.A chapter called,Visiting the games, suggests that those who attended the Games might be categorized as.

• The committed fan

• The temporary fan

• The spectator

• The obligated visitor (relative etc.)

• The casual visitor

• The experience-led visitor

• The corporate visitor

The book addresses the effects of the Games on the local resident population. The bid had identified achieving a lasting legacy – the social transformation of East London as a major goal. While noting the negative effects of compulsory purchase orders, the conclusion is that there was “clear evidence of significant legacy in terms of enhanced business capacity, additional tourism spending and regeneration of East London”.

That said, the book argues that it is hard to identify what qualifies as legacy and that the authorities were keen to claim legacy to justify the £9.3 billion public sector investment in the Games. The key question, it is suggested, is: “could/would the programmes have been achieved without the games. If yes, then they are not really legacy. It is also stated that few of the declared legacy priorities were “directly measurable which means the extent to which they have been delivered can be the subject of political interpretation”.

In Helping athletes excel, there is an interesting discussion of why so many Paralympic records were broken with suggested explanations

• Improved athletic training regimes

• Technical advances in wheelchairs etc.

• Greater professionalism among governing bodies

• Improved coaching

• Greater background knowledge in sport

• All of the above

This is an excellent book which analyses the delivery of the Games from many perspectives in an informed yet very readable format.

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