diamond geezer

 Monday, July 25, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  One year to go

Ignore all those lies in the media. Ignore Tom Daley's inaugural dive into the Aquatic Centre pool. Ignore the half-hour TV special live from Trafalgar Square. Because it's not One Year To The Olympics on Wednesday. It's One Year To The Olympics today.

Oh yes, there are two Olympic events taking place before the Opening Ceremony on Friday 27th July 2012. One of these is the Archery, whose preliminary ranking round starts that morning at 9am. And the other is the Football, poor old unloved Football, whose matches kick off even earlier. There are so many Olympic Football matches to cram in that they need to begin not one but two days before the flame gets lit. There'll be eight matches on Thursday 26th July 2012, and six the day before. Glasgow and Coventry will each be hosting two of these games, but the honour of the very first Olympic session of 2012 goes to the city of Cardiff. Two as-yet unnamed women's teams will kick off in the Millennium Stadium at 4pm on Wednesday 25th July 2012. Which means it's 1YTG this afternoon. Don't expect to see anyone celebrating.

Come this particular day in one year's time, expect Olympic anticipation to be at fever pitch. The Olympic torch will be pottering around north London before spending the night in Haringey. The capital will be bedecked with celebratory sponsored bunting. Occasionally there'll be programmes on BBC1 inbetween trailers for the Games. Several lanes of traffic will be cordoned off to the annoyance of people trying to drive to work. The world's media will have descended on the capital to bring a flavour of the excitement to their folks back home. And you won't be allowed to walk anywhere near the Olympic Stadium any more, because the mega-cautious security perimeter will have been activated.

I went for a stroll round part of the mega-cautious security perimeter yesterday, purely because I won't be able to in 52 weekends time. I started at the Bow Flyover, where the new floating towpath isn't quite ready yet. That'll be opened, and temporarily shut, before the year's out. A walk along the River Lea here is about as close as you can still get to walking the waterways of the original Olympic Park. The channel bends off round a corner beneath two railway bridges to a remote industrial edgeland. Overgrown fence and grassy path on one side, deep green undergrowth and the backs of old brick warehouses on the other. They'll wreck it one day with a series of stacked waterside apartments, but for now these only encroach a little further north, leaving one brief stretch of heron-infested wildspace. [photo]

The towpath beyond the Greenway is now open again, freshly resurfaced with small grade gravel. A series of mooring posts have been installed opposite Swan Wharf, ready for those elusive Water Chariots to tie up and unload their cargo of Games spectators. Mind the cyclists, mind the joggers, mind the courting couples sitting dangling their legs over the quayside... the Olympic perimeter's a lot busier than it used to be. But it'll be hugely busier the other side of the Park boundary in 368 days time. A ring of temporary mobile phone masts is being erected to cope with anticipated levels of 3G, Angry Birds and tweeting once the Games begin, and one such structure is planned for the western flank of Old Ford Lock. It'll be 25 metres tall with 12 antennae and 4 dishes, which probably isn't as scary as it sounds, although there's a poster campaign across Fish Island to get planning permission revoked. Assuming that fails, you might be interested to know that spectators within the western segment of the Olympic Stadium are due to have the best mobile phone signal.

Up on the Greenway itself, construction work continues on the security checkpoint above the river. We're warned that "temporary narrowing" will continue until next January, which suggests some considerable building work to come. In a year's time this will be the western entrance to the Olympic Park, probably the least used way in, but an important frisk-zone all the same. In direct contrast alongside the footway, the wild flowers are currently a riot of colour - somebody evidently selected plants with the last week of July in mind. A mysterious "FINISH" line can be seen in the far distance, outside the View Tube, which turns out to be a temporary bike-related sculpture (well done to the German artists, it's terribly effective). [photo]

And there are people all over the place, even at eight in the evening, come to stare and point at the stadium and all its associated architectural hangers-on. There'll be even more people on Wednesday, plus cameras and microphones, staring and pointing in a One Year To Go kind of way. Sssh, don't tell them they're two days late.

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