Back in November, you may remember, my local council threw a strop over the re-routeing of the Olympic Marathon. New Mayor Lutfur Rahman said he believed LOCOG had acted unlawfully in failing to adhere to the spirit of the original bid, and that a Judicial Review was the only option. He had a point. The borough was due to be hosting the Basketball, until that arena got shifted to save money. Most of the Race Walk was due to snake around Victoria Park, until that got moved to central London instead. And then the marathon route got amputated, severing the run up the Mile End Road in favour of another run down The Mall. From three Olympic events to zero, that is indeed a kick in the East End teeth.
Now that the Olympic schedule has been released, we can see if Seb had a point. Would the marathon have conflicted with several other events and caused a serious traffic snarl-up? Well, yes and no.
The women's marathon is scheduled for 1100-1400 on Sunday 5th August. At the same time there's hockey, basketball, cycling, handball and water polo going on in the Olympic Park. There is absolutely nothing going on in the Olympic Stadium, not until the 100m semi-finals kick off five hours later, so no overlap there. Meanwhile there are lots of Sunday lunchtime events elsewhere in London - in North Greenwich, Greenwich Park, Woolwich, Wimbledon, Earls Court and Wembley - which athletes and spectators need to travel to. I'm by no means convinced that 80 runners on the Bow Flyover create insurmountable congestion problems, but apparently they do, and I'm not the expert.
The men's marathon is scheduled for 1100-1340 on Sunday 12th August. This is the last day of the Olympics, and the number of events going on is minimal. There's some water polo in the Park, plus there's the modern pentathlon which spends a bit of time in the Park, but the Park is essentially empty. Had the men's marathon run out to the Stadium as originally planned, sorry Seb, your claims of Olympic-related traffic chaos just don't hold up. Instead the marathon runners would have arrived at a spectator-free arena in the middle of preparations for the Closing Ceremony, six hours later, and I guess that doesn't make for good TV.
Lutfur's legal challenge wasn't necessarily to get the marathon route reinstated, because we're well past the stage where that's a practical possibility. Instead he hoped to get concessions from LOCOG to bring more Olympic 'stuff' to Tower Hamlets. And in this he claims to have succeeded, because he sat down in Bow with Seb yesterday and smiled and signed something official-looking. Let's see what marvellous perks he's won for us.
So there you go. Four concessions to Tower Hamlets, only one-and-a-bit of which could be described as generous. They even have a whiff of favouritism about them, in both social and economic terms, compared all to the other Olympic boroughs nextdoor. Whoever brokered this deal ought to be pleased, because both sides appear to have emerged from a bitter argument without losing face. But as a Tower Hamlets resident I'm not impressed. I'd much rather have had the marathon running past my door as promised, and these few lesser scraps won't ease my disappointment.
I am not going to write about the Olympics three days running, honest.