diamond geezer

 Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Talking of the Olympics, the last pre-2012 Games kick off in Vancouver this weekend. So, how is London celebrating?
Mayor gears up for Vancouver in the Square
Trafalgar Square is to host London's own sporting extravaganza to mark the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver.
Excellent. It's good to see that the next Olympic Host City is taking Canada's magnificent global spectacle seriously. I wonder what's been organised.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is inviting Londoners and visitors to watch the stunning opening ceremony of the Games on a giant outdoor screen in the iconic square...
Excellent. London loves a big screen in Trafalgar Square. Be it the World Cup or Beijing 2008, there's nothing quite like watching sporting heroes in action, giant sized. For a really big crowd, however, it helps if there are Great Britons at the heart of the action. Not much chance of that this time. And it also helps if the live action's taking place during daylight hours. Alas no. The Opening Ceremony's taking place between 2am and 5am GMT on Saturday morning, so we're only getting lunchtime highlights. And the main sporting action over the following fortnight kicks off no earlier than 6pm every evening, which isn't exactly crowd-conducive. Still, a big screen is a good start. OK, what else?
...and try their hand at a range of ‘virtual’ winter sports. Visitors to the Square will be able to experience the exhilaration of downhill slalom skiing, snowboarding, bobsleighing...
Excellent. A festival of winter sports is precisely the sort of physical extravaganza that the capital's impressionable young citizens deserve. London's Sport Ambassador must be very pleased at yet another inspirational Mayoral anti-obesity success. Except, hang on, did someone say 'virtual'?
...and a range of other interactive winter sports games, courtesy of SEGA. Both Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 games consoles will be located in 10 pods on the Square. Those demonstrating interactive sporting prowess will be picked by members of the SEGA team to compete against each other in front of thousands as their virtual skills are relayed on to the outdoor screen. Great prizes will be awarded to the winners.
Ah. So this isn't a celebration of dynamic youth after all, this is a couch-potato-fest sponsored by a bunch of corporate button-twiddlers. It'll attract London's youth, for sure, but it won't inspire them to leap or sprint or exercise for real. There are no Olympic sporting ideals here, only electrogizmo-worship and a thinly-disguised branding-reinforcement opportunity. The big screen's a Panasonic, by the way - the press release goes to special effort to point this out.
A four-metre high ice sculpture of the five Olympic rings will complete the sporting celebration next Saturday (13 February)
Oh well, that's alright then. Olympic credentials intact, and all with minimal taxpayer outlay.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Next weekend, Trafalgar Square will be bursting with excitement as we watch the world’s elite winter sports athletes proudly represent their countries ahead of the biggest physical and mental challenge of their lives. Whilst we can not bring the snowy slopes of Whistler to London, we are offering a fantastic day of interactive fun and competition to the heart of the host city of the next summer games.”
Thank goodness the eyes of the world will be on Vancouver this weekend and not London, because our sole contribution to celebrating the Winter Games will be a pool of Wii in Trafalgar Square. If this muted squib is anything to go by, then I fear London's not going to be throwing much of a civic party come 2012. Maybe Boris is busy saving our council tax money to spend on more important projects at a later date. But it's clear he has no interest whatsoever in organising major communal events, and is increasingly reliant on any multinational that's willing to step in and do it for him. Swifter, higher, stronger.
Event: Vancouver 2010 in the Square
Date: Saturday 13th February 10am–6pm
Venue: Trafalgar Square
See you there?

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