OLYMPICS ON THE GROUND: It isn’t getting any better

Queues, transport abandonment, dehydration, and Brand Nazis: London 2012’s continuing cacophony of chaos and control.

Occasional roving Slog reporter Dietrich von Ausland was texting in to our hitech buzzy pan galactic newsroom yesterday evening, direct from the London 2012 Olympic village. These are the headlines:

‘…the Coke stand ran out of Fanta, Sprite and water by 9.30 pm….there’s a permanent queue for coffee stretching at least 45 minutes, and no drinks allowed in…these people don’t have a f**king clue about mass catering…the  normal 35 minute overground journey took an hour…Stratford Station blocked solid on the way out…no idea how we’ll get home…’

Given that Dietrich berated me for being negative yesterday, you can imagine how painful it was for him to text that.

Meanwhile, some of you will already be aware of the wifi police, stopping people from using mobile dongles. I’m not sure when Locog bought the rights to all global satellite Net access, but anyway Australian visitors are less than pleased…as the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday:

‘The London Olympics organising committee, has banned “personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs” from Olympic venues.Want to create a wireless hotspot on your smartphone so you can get online on your laptop or tablet in between matches? That’s prohibited, as are portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices. The absurdities don’t end there. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Fish and chip stalls have been advised they are not allowed to serve chips on their own without fish as McDonald’s is the official chip maker of the Games. The Independent reported that the ban on chips extended to 800 retailers at the 40 Olympic venues.

Hundreds of uniformed Olympics officers have been patrolling London enforcing the multimillion-dollar marketing deals signed with companies such as Visa, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s and BP. Only official sponsors who have paid a certain amount of money are permitted to use Olympic Games trademarks in their advertising. Under laws specifically passed for the London Games, the brand army has rights to enter shops and business premises and bring courts actions and fines up to £20,000. Words such as “Olympic”, “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “sponsors”, “summer” and “London” have been banned from business advertisements so as not to give the impression they are connected to the Olympics. Even pubs can’t have signs displaying brands of beer that are not official sponsors….’

Not even George Orwell foresaw this kind of control freakery. One is left wondering whether Bojo-Hunt Enterprises have sold out to Mammon, or simply bought into Monopolism.

Matthew Gain, digital director of public relations agency Edelman, said there was a “fine line that needs to be tread” between the commercial realities and the ability of consumers to enjoy the Games.The Olympics are expensive to run and sponsors provide a chunk of the cash, so they expect that competitors won’t be able to get the same or similar benefits for free.

“However at the same time you don’t want to protect that investment so much that you piss off everyone,” he added. He might also have pointed out that the sponsors have only stumped up 8% of the cost of the games, whereas we – the citizens, the spectators, the consumers, the taxpayers, the ones gridlocked by the Zil Lanes – put up nearly 75%.

The case continues.

53 thoughts on “OLYMPICS ON THE GROUND: It isn’t getting any better

    • Well, sorry to disappoint you again Miserable John, but my fears for the return trip were entirely unfounded.
      There must have been 200,000 wanting to get out of the Olympic Park and away home at about 10pm. My wife and I walked onto the Overground platform where a train was waiting. It left within 3 mins and took us very smoothly to Kensal Rise in 30 mins. And I had a seat all the way. Absolutely painless.
      Can’t say how the other 199,998 coped but there seemed to be no log-jams and everyone was walking briskly towards the many options of Overground, Underground, Mainline trains, Javelin and buses. No discernible queues.
      Considerably less pain than going to Wembley which has such crap transport services.
      We had a 100% thoroughly enjoyable day despite my critical comments. I hate queuing so I never joined that 45min coffee queue. I missed my breakfast coffee. It did not ruin my day. And I don’t drink Fanta, Sprite water or coke. So that didn’t worry me either. They did serve beer and the queues for that were never more than 3 mins. There were even hundreds of guys selling beer and/or soft drinks from mobile buggies and back packs.
      And in the end finding non-queued food was no prob as there were sooooooooo many food stalls selling such a variety – from fish & chips (yes ONLY that combination), sausages, Asian, Thai, Indian, Spanish, pies, deli, salt beef (I had a great salt beef and mustard sandwich) and a knees-under picnic bench to eat it), salads, humus, and oh, dozens more. Of course it wasn’t haute cuisine – and there were a lot of undertrained young staff – but it was considerably better than any football ground I’ve ever been to – and rather better even than Wembley. And unlike most football grounds one could take one’s beer and/or wine into the stands.
      We went to the morning AND evening track and field events in the Arena both of which sessions were packed out completely – I saw nary an empty seat – though several blocks near the finishing line are given over to the media, journos, photographers and cameras these days.
      The soldiers we saw and I talked to a lot of them, were VERY happy to be there (thanks G4S). They handled all the security check-in machinery with speed and good cheer. No queues, (unlike LHR or STN).
      There were thousands of joyful (yes joyful – good description not a cynical sarco grimace on a single face) young volunteers helping with crowds and directions and helping people out. They put smiles on everyone’s face.
      We talked to everyone we bumped into – Spanish, Dutch, Australian, Italian, Scots and English – and they were all so happy to chat and not a complaint amongst them. The Park is fantastic, the waterways, wetlands and “natural” plantings a joy. Thousands – it seemed like millions – of people milling about having fun. Oooops! – sorry John, that must really upset – you and your fellow travelers HATE having “fun” almost as much as you all hate other people having fun. Mustn’t mention “fun” should we? – not when the country’s spent so much and is going so quickly to the dogs.
      Well, not disputing any of your cynical criticisms, and even being a great lover of the “Twenty Twelve” series, I’d suggest you take a few days off and GO to the Park – there are probably tickets still left for women’s water-netball or whatever and see the Park for yourself.
      But I guess that would be far too much to expect from a critic – that you actually sample the subject of your venom.
      The despondent crowd of “glass-half-empty” followers you attract are sooooooooooooo boring, unimaginative and desperately dull. You are ALL the sort of folk who used to funk PT at school with a note from your mum to say you jolly well couldn’t do sports cos you’d got a pimple on your winkle.
      OK the whole blooming thing is way OTT, way overspent, vastly overblown and full of ludicrous over-excited commentary. But so is everything in this stupid celeb ridden, mass media, hyped-up age of entertainment trivia. No denying all of that.
      But if it pisses you off, turn off the telly and take the dogs for a walk.
      Your repetitive negativism however puts all you all you regular Sloggers into a silly miserable class of your own – an antisocial, bitter, bleak, boring, cantankerous, cheerless, choleric, churlish, contemptuous, crabby, crotchety, crummy, crusty, cynical, deeply depressing, utterly derisive, desperately despairing, despondent, destructive, disbelieving, discouraging, disparaging, dispiriting, downheartening, gloomy, glum, grouchy, hopeless, hypercritical, ill-humoured, ill-tempered, irritable, maligning, melancholic, misanthropic, miserable, mocking, morose, peevish, perverse, pessimistic, petulant, sarcastic, scoffing, scornful, sceptical, sneering, sour, splenetic, surly, unfriendly, unsociable, up-tight, woebegone lot. Grow up, get a life enjoy SOMETHING.
      £12bn badly spent – of course. We all know the British elite are a crock of sh*t when it comes to organising a beer fest in a brewhouse these days. But I suspect the lot of you enjoy a wretched rant to a good day out any day.
      May all your days be full of rain. May all your glasses be forever half empty. May all your squalid lives be spent in vile discomfort. You KNOW you love it like that. So don’t expect sympathy as well.
      Sodden burnt cake AND eat it. Yeah!!
      Signed…
      Your occasional roving Slog reporter Dietrich von Ausland

      • Shut up you traitor!!!

        I hate having happy thoughts and those bloody athletes have filled my head with happy thoughts of Olympian proportions…. At least that bloke had the decency to look miserable as he led the cycling for half a dozen laps or so on his silly looking white bike.

        Shame he didn’t win it really, he could have become a pin up for miserable bastards everywhere.

        “Pete Deary King of the weary Go-Go-Go”

      • The delicious irony of that torrent of bile being directed at some imaginary group of people who you claim are full of bile themselves has made my evening.. Ok well the last ten minutes anyway. Feel silly? Glad you had er.. fun today.. despite being so full of hate for anyone who didn’t decide to announce it… (!?)

  1. Checkpoints… show me your papers…. kind of reminds me of another time where the slogan was sieg heil…

    In Britain none the less…. Terrible

  2. Hopefully everyone will understand it’s the organizers to blame and not the original idea of the Games itself. An idea that seems lost and forgotten anyway.By the way ”mass control” is the way to the future and what better way to do it than controlling communications. The smarter our phones get, the less our right to use them.

    • Having in my past worked in a Government department planning for nuclear doomsday, communications have long been a priority to be controlled. As on receipt of a coded order from us, at each telephone exhange in the country the manager, would flip a ‘trip switch’, and if you were not on our list to be given a telephone line, then you were calling no one…

      I imagine such arrangements are still in place today…..

  3. When I hear the comments of Coe and his entourage plus the clueless “Dame” Tessa Jowell (awarded no doubt for services to the art of spending other peoples money) explaining away the right of sponsors to have preferential seating given to them for their financial input to the games, I wonder on that basis why the London council tax payer who have had a surcharge placed upon them for seven years are not offered the same seats as their financial input is greater than the sponsors, or god forbid am I being naive !.

    • The 7 years you mention – was that not at the original ‘bid cost’ (£2Bn) when it was being sold to the taxpayer ? Pretty sure it was – but am happy to be corrected :)

      • Morningstar, The original2.6 billion bid was revised by assessment in 2007 just two years after winning the bid, to jump to 9.6 proving the initial figure was a back of the envelope lie, and still they trumpet “it’s come in under budget” the true final cost I doubt we will ever know.

  4. JW
    I wonder what Arnold Wesker makes of all of this Olympic control freakery – He wrote a play about press ethics etc forty years ago.( The Journalists) He was censored, wasn’t he.
    I hope some one weightier lifts the lid on mad house Britain – we have a situation developing that is going to end up with disastrous consequences – and no one has uttered a squeak about heavy handed so called sponsorship. GB plc door is wide open to bods curtailing our freedoms, no one has complained- I just don’t get it.

    Keep slogging on!

  5. A ‘Super Saturday’ report from London 2012 Sceptics HQ. Our members attended the Canoeing last Tuesday, 30 miles out of London. We have to tell you that it was a disaster. Overall it was remarkably well organised and executed and forced totally the wrong sort of memorable experience on us. What we went through was nowhere near as satisfying for us as a catalogue of incompetence would have been. The one element we wanted to succeed – the Team GB competitor – must have sensed we weren’t getting enough to moan about. So he chose not to make the final. (Later in the week he got a 50% share of a silver medal. He obviously needed to have a friend with him.)

    Our journey (and I mean getting from A to B – not some sporting psychobabble) was a breeze. We set off 2.5 hours later than advised, not only because we’re contrarians here – we were also delayed by work. We had seats all the way and apart from a National Rail employee directing us to the wrong platform at Stratford, it was better than most public transport trips. The half-hour walk to the water flume meant everyone had to participate in exercise. Early legacy.

    Breezing through security we were dreading McDos being the only place to get a coffee. There was not a yellow arch in site. Instead we found a selection of the sort of independent-looking stalls ubiquitous at festivals. The coffee was alright (some fast food efficiency would actually have been welcomed) and we even indulged in a really rather good Victoria Sponge Sandwich. Take that johnny foreigner!

    There have been organisational niggles reflecting those in non-Olympic life. Trying to organise the travel online went round in circles and got noone anywhere. The leaflet telling us the dos and don’ts of attending the sailing (tomorrow’s tickets) told us not to upset sponsors but mentioned nothing about bringing a rug to sit on. £55 will not get us a seat. Such niggles would have been so simple to iron out.

    Despite my libertarian stance, I would have welcomed more stringent application of the no Vuvuzelas rule. They started their braying right behind us as I was in the middle of an important mobile phone call. Connection was no problem. I also successfully surfed the web for results from elsewhere.

    There’s evidence that brand Nazism has backfired. Some think that Burger King, Pepsi and Nike are official partners. That’s largely down to a lack of originality and intelligence in the sponsors’ communication and advertising. It comes to something when an ambush marketing poster for Nike, rushed out immediately after Paula Radcliffe withdrew and was therefore ‘Out of Olympic Contract’, makes a disproportionate impact. The line is: ‘LEGENDS KEEP ON RUNNING’. Except they don’t, not in her case.

    Lame.

  6. Was your roving slogger texting you from the ‘Olympic Village’ or the ‘Olympic Park’? The Village is where the teams are housed and not open to the public.

    • I said PARK and mentioned it FOUR times. Cannot you read, Rob. My great arm-wrestling strengths have not been recognised by the Olympix Committee so I was not a Team Brit member and thus had no pass into the Village. But that looked pretty good too.
      Positivity Rob.
      Dietrich von Ausland

      • What? The first paragraph of the main post says ‘village’. I’m just asking for clarity if the reporting slogger was commenting on the ‘park’ or the ‘village’. They are different things – a report from the village has more kudos.

        And my name ain’t Rob, though I guess yours is Tosser. You lose .5 for your reply to me for poor execution. No podium for you.

  7. Having had first-hand experience of not being able to use images associated with the Games and a friend not being able to associate a new product with the Olympic ideal it is unbelievable just how controlling these Games are commercially. I wanted to use the image of the Olympic rings and my friend wanted to have ‘Olympic’ in the title of a drink he wanted to make. No can do!
    Places the torches went had to be free of any suggestion of advertising by a competitor to an Olympic sponsor and that must have cost megabucks too! Even covering up the Pepsi machines in a nearby leisure centre……….WTF really.

    Locally we are currently arguing about the state the place is in as the local authority cut costs and services. One suggestion we have made is to have the Olympic Torch back and run it all over the county because the roads where that went were tidied and trimmed to within an inch of their lives. A detour of only 10 yards would show the real state of the place! Costs again…….

    A few months ago I took part in a public debate and one question was about the local legacy and infrastructure the Olympics had brought to our part of the country. The vast majority supported the idea and said we would see improved services and infrastructure. I think three of us had an opposing opinion but as the event was being recorded so apart from showing our hands we were not given the chance of presenting an opposing view point. I wouldn’t mind getting the same people in the same room and asking the same question now! I know our MP has changed his mind!

      • Mac…what I meant was: it was possibly fortunate in this era of correct thinking and corporatism that you were unable to say anything that at some date in the future could be held against you!

        But, as you say, so much for ‘dissident’ views. This is how it is now.

  8. The Wi-Fi constraints would appear to have been based on a real problem – lack of bandwidth. The cycling road race coverage was, claims the BBC, compromised by the vast quantities of Twittering, texting and email which the enthusiastic supporters engaged in. Life was very different 7 years ago when the bid was first put in and the infrastructure planned. Lack of bandwidth is now a real issue as we all expect to be connected 24/7. Once good mobile/data coverage on the rail line out of Liverpool Street is now sometimes no better than dial-up was in 1998.

    • Major investment needed all around the UK in broadband and cellphones. Other EU countries get Brussels to pay for this – why not us?

      • Other EU countries having blagged funding from Brussels are, you might have noticed, spectacularly BUST! More bust than we are. Yes, we need infrastructure but it needs to be paid for sustainably. Perhaps, shock horror, we should have Wi-fi-Track or W-fi-NatGrid similar so that there is a national data infrastructure only of course better. I jsut don’t think the planners anticipated the takeoff of mobile data when, in theory we’ve had mobile data for yonks (my first psion organiser had a cable to connect to my trusty Nokia). The BBC, for all its faults is getting much praise for use of social media, HDTV etc. A bit of “so that’s all good” planning didn’t go into thinking about the knock on effects. Free Wi-fi for the masses!

      • JSW, I can’t understand any of your reply. I was talking about getting Brussels to pay for broadband – why does that make a country bust? We are already paying the bills for other EU countries, why not get the EU to give some back to us?

  9. So just remind me who passed the Olympic Games Act of 2006? Was it Boris Johnson/Jeremy Hunt?

    Or are you proposing that our elected officials purposely break the law of the land when they feel like it?

  10. POINT OF ORDER

    McDonalds do not make “chips” (as understood by the British public). They make French Fries.

    Were Mc Donalds the supplier of French Fries that would be fine. To anyone making chips, properly, French Fries are anathema.

    Clarification: Chips are made from sliced-up whole potatoes. French fries are made from processed potatoes (mashed, re-constituted = cheaper).

    [Off topic?]French fries, when disposed of and mouldy is what Trolls like eating (from dumpsters).

    • Sir,
      Sorry I couldn’t think of anything better to comment on in your article.
      Chips?Trolls? Ah yes – I know about those things…
      Please excuse my usual nonsense – after all my friends call me
      NON-STOP NONSENSE because I talk a lot of RUBBISH

    • Gemma: The worst thing you can do is answer that ape that’s mimicking you. Starve it of attention and it will wither and die.

      • Super F

        I tried that, and it ignored me ignoring it. It didn’t starve nor die, it just sought attention elsewhere on the blog. So I might as well tease the poor thing and have some fun while I am at it.

    • @Gemma

      “To anyone making chips, properly, French Fries are anathema”.

      I thought french fries originated as frites, in Brussels. Explains everything.

      • Aflatoxin

        Frites, yes, “French Fries” are an American invention.

        The Belgian “friet” (one of the few Belgian things worshipped in the Netherlands) are well worthy of the eulogies poured on them. Actually, most people pour mayonnaise on them*, not eulogies, but I digress. They are scrummy.

        American “French Fries” are but a poor shadow, much like the hamburger-look-alikes sold in those McD emporia. As to the buns they are served inside … the less said the better.

        It seems the Americans can degrade anything decent that passes their way, from chips to currencies, football and banks.

        [*When served at one of my children's birthday parties, everyone laughed at my daughter putting mayonnaise on her chips (which were made in the Flemish manner, I will add). They all preferred ketchup, until of course they tried the mayo. After that, the ketchup was left to one side.]

    • @ Gemma

      Re your disquisition on french fries. I have tasted em in all said countries. Each to their own.

      btw I believe that mayonnaise (or should I say salad cream in the uk…but we won’t go there) on chips originated in the East End. It’s only an alternative to vinegar which is what british chips have the misfortune to be traditionally drowned in.

      • Super S

        My point in saying all this was that Mc Donalds do not sell the same sort of “chips” that a (decent upstanding) chipshop would supply. Mc Donalds supply faux chip-like “french fries”, and therefore McDonalds should have the Olympic market for french fries not chips.

        Recipe For Belgian Friets

        There is a trick to getting that “perfect friet” a la Belge: first choose a nice soft-cooking potato, par boil it and use very hot fat to fry it in. That way you have that lovely crunchy exterior and that scrummy, tasty inside.

        Brookmeyer claims that the best chips come from the Luneburger Heide, and that it is all to do with the potato variety.

  11. The wifi restrictions have been put in place mostly because wifi networking is absolutely rubbish for supplying net connectivity to a big venue. The bandwidth is poor for the 2.4 GHz ones, and 5.8 GHz doesn’t do well where things like trees are present. Plus, of course, the organisers have their own petty scam running selling connectivity and they really do not want any unofficial dongles competing with their official system for bandwidth.

    The thought also occurs to me that they might just have been stupid enough to be relying on wireless networking for some of the security systems and for in-venue networking. The sensible sysadmin side of me is screaming “No, nobody could be that idiotic” but this is LOCOG, operating in full top-down design mode and I rather fear that they could indeed be that stupid (Stupid, because if some terrorist faction realises this, then they can introduce lots of their own dongles and black out networking in a stadium). I have heard of architects being foolish enough to think that wireless networking would be sufficient for a large building, but this notion was fortunately seized upon by the networking engineers present and roundly ridiculed, rubbished and thrown out. Given that this is LOCOG and the Government at work, one does wonder, though.

    • Quite a bit of the systems have been mirrored and pigg backed,particularly the fpga systems,of which there seem to be a lot.

  12. @JW: Did you miss that the bloody-minded pro-sponsorship rules and jackboot enforcement of restrictions are happening under the Olympics law passed by the last Labour govt. It is classic socialist corporatism at play with jackboot enforcement. It is Blair to a T.

    My view is open to examination, but it seems clear to me that you are blaming the current Tory Govt for yet another massive Labour failure.

    What were the Tory Govt (Hunt) supposed to do when they took office May/2010? If they tore up the adsurd pro-sponsorship contracts and removed many of the fascist restrictions on attendees and other people going about their business, the sponsors will have sued or pulled out or both. The Olympics would have then been an even bigger mess with taxpayers picking up an even larger tab.

    • BT: Explain to me one significant ideological difference between David Cameron and Tony Blair?

      What, so Labour signed all the agreements with the IOC and various sponsors. Do you really think it would be any different if DC and Co. had been there in 2005 instead of Tory Bliar?

      • Difficult one to answer. We can only go on facts and in this case the laws whch created this fascist jackboot Olympic mess were passed by the last Labour govt.

    • Precisely. JW seems to be proposing that the British government just tear up legally binding agreements that it has signed, because it’s changed its mind. A fine mess that would leave us in. What business would ever sign a contract to supply goods or services to the UK State under those conditions? It would be like the situation that prevails in Russia, where a legal contract means nothing, if the State suddenly decides it wants something different.

      The Olympic games Act of 2006 was another sh*t sandwich left by the Labour government for its successor, and Cameron and Co are having to eat it. Whether they would have passed a similar Act is irrelevant – the fact is it was dropped in their laps and there was absolutely nothing by 2010 (just over 2 years away from the opening ceremony) they could do to change it. But hey why worry about the facts when there’s a good opportunity to blame the Eton brigade? JW never does.

      • Indeed. Blaming the current govt seems naive or an agenda…
        Odd really, there’s plenty of genuine criticisms…

    • -tearing up contracts-
      time to take a tip from the French, then.
      You only pay lip service to contracts nowadays, you don’t have to adhere to the terms. It’s just business,

      • If the French are tearing up contracts it doesn’t surprise me one jot.
        The Rule of Law is anathema to socialists, always has been.

  13. Pingback: Team GB’s richly deserved success: Boris follows the medals. | A diary of deception and distortion

  14. “woebegone” Mind your language sir” How very very dare you refer to me as that. Off topic yes the Mclimp ix are a confuzzled bunch, Mc Donalds tried to sue a man called ronald mcdonald ( lots of them in Scotland ) for breaching it’s rights for that fking clown. Yes! that’s what I thought; now I read they are preventing the great Uk public of IT’S NATIONAL dish- chips on their own or with egg bacon and other non mcdonald crap. On the many occasion I have been to the USA I have NEVER encountered one that sold ‘chips’ they solf ‘french fries’ in Germany they call them Pomme fritts or something. Ha hahahaha McDonald’s own London. The finale will show the queen eating a big mac whilst popping some miracle cure invented and marketed by Glaxo smiff and grubs. Great to see those two hero’s from war torn ‘wherever’ visiting the ‘athletes’ and ‘supporting’ the ‘British’ things.. Nice princes, shame about the families. Two MORE royal families to look up to now the peckams erm Beckams and the mickartnies and the Winsors… and Kate wears nice dresses!

    With nice comfortable shoes!

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