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Even table tennis tickets send shiver down spine with London 2012 one year away

Posted on 27 July 2011 | 1:07pm

My £7000 potential outlay led eventually to a couple of tickets for the table tennis early rounds and two sessions of athletic heats. Not exactly what I hoped for, and not nearly as good as the amazing (sponsors’) tickets I had for Athens, when my son and I saw Kelly Holmes win her second Gold, and the UK men win the 4 by 100 relay, and Hicham el-Gerrouj win one of the best races of the Games.

But London 2012 is fast emerging as one of the defining events of our lifetime, and today’s one year to go milestone is a good place to take stock of a remarkable series of achievements: first, getting the Games when Paris was widely expected to; securing the sponsorship required in a really tough economic environment; and delivering the facilities in good time and pretty much according to plan, and with the minimum of fuss.

There are going to be some big challenges along the way, not least the transport system. But every time I go past the Olympic site, I am impressed by the pace and scale of progress. And every time I feel the excitement ratcheting up.

As I tweeted this morning, I would happily swap table tennis for cycling or indeed several other sports. And I freely admit I will be on the look out for tickets from whatever source they may come. But when the time comes, a table tennis qualifier between a Swede and a Venezuelan will be a great event to witness.

Britain has hardly presented a great face to the world in recent weeks, as the phonehacking scandal has been the dominant global story to emerge from our shores, with its negative connotations for press, police, politics and public life.

London 2012 is already showing a different and better face, of vision, commitment, competence, political and administrative ability and organisational flair; and the story will get better and better all the way to the closing ceremony. Of that I am as sure as I can be of anything in this uncertain world.

  • ambrosian

    “One of the defining events of our lifetime”. Not my lifetime, so please don’t include me in that piece of hyperbole. I have zero interest in any of these sports, most of which are minority sports anyway.
    Of course the facilities and organisation should be good at a cost of £9 billion+.

    Here are some predictions: the UK TV audience will never exceed 25 million out of a population of 61 million.
    The biggest audience will be for the opening ceremony which will feature no sport whatsoever.
    Despite ample evidence to the contrary, we will be constantly told that the “entire nation” is gripped by Olympic fever.

    A few million people like yourself will enjoy it and good luck to you. But for the sanity of the rest of us, please try to keep a grip on reality.

  • Richard

    Tessa Jowell has been on the rounds extolling the benefit(s) of hosting the games next year. Defending the indefensible.

    The original bid was £2.3 billion.
    She quotes VAT as an issue: an extra £460 million at 20%, and she insists that the IOC required that the quote be without VAT……extra security blah blah.
    ( My recollection is that after the bid’s success it was a surprise when VAT emerged as not being included. Did The Treasury not get some stick for insisting that VAT would be an addition?)
    Last night she announced “on time, within budget”. Within a reissued, remodelled, sixth time estimated, that should be all, last guess £9 billion budget! What  a success!
    Jowell last night bleating in favour of a shopping centre legacy, and a school for training retail sales, and quoting the building jobs a legacy was a hoot!

    But new Labour had form for such success. Remember the dome? A mere £700 million, double the original estimate. ( Governments running visitor attractions, er NO!)
    Then there was the little matter of Hollyrood parliament building which was estimated at £40 million and cost £414 million.

    You can spin all you like Al but budgetary control was never a Labour strength, and Balls’ fingerprints (sic) are all over the above debacles. ( By the way does anyone think that Balls smirk is  in the same “unfortunate mannerisms ” class as the GB smile?)

    What could £9 billion have done for the fortunes of East London if applied properly?

    Finally, can anyone please tell me the justice in “offering at face value”, only 2 tickets per event to each GB competitor? They should be given10 free per session in which they appear, at least. (If there are 500 in our team and they each appear in, say, 5 sessions, 10 tickets per session,  Lord Smug would have to donate 25,000 tickets, at £40 per ticket, would “cost” £1 million. Big deal. That at least would be some recognition and reward to teh small army of people who facilitate the members of teh team getting there in teh first place.)

  • Jose

    I’m sure the Games will be a fantastic event in a fantastic city, it’s such a pity that the rest of the country is paying for it…..

  • MicheleB

    I’m feeling quite depressed about the habit of lying that seems viral among Tories.

    I’ve just heard Jeremy Hunt (tinted moisturiser user) talking about the 2012 pool.

    He had the gall to say ‘we have delivered’ and to claim that there had been no progress on Zahar Hadid’s structure ’till we took over’..

    Yet another soft boy that knows nada zilch narthing about about what real things take.

    I hope Ms Hadid will be given the chance to speak against his fatuous cr*p and not leave it all to Tessa Jowell (who does a great job but must be so fed up of people’s credit being stolen). 

    In fact Hadad was on radio yesterday talking about how many young people had been recruited and specially trained, taught skills that they can use for the rest of their lives, real practical teaching in building skills.

  • Ehtch

    I take it the transport concerns are for the spectators, rather than the competitors, who I also take it will be accommodated close to where they will be competing? If so, they will have to constantly keep telling spectators to “set off early”, like around 6am in the morning, on the first few underground carriages. But these bus/taxi like “Olympic lanes” on roads sounds like a barking mad idea, something typical that Boris would suggest!

    But one thing that has got to be said, the London Olympics will make a great big wad of cash for the country if done right, from many many ways, and should (he says) easily cover the cost of holding the Olympics with plenty to spare. London is a type of place that people are happy to visit since there is “plenty to see and do”, even if they only see Olympic events for a couple of days. Here’s hoping.

  • Gilliebc

    I’m with you on the subject of the Olympic games ambrosian.  The fact that we have to put-up with this bore-athon every four years is bad enough.  But next year having it in our own country is going to be nothing short of excruciating for those of us who are not interested.  Coverage on the MSM is already going into overdrive, so it’s going to be covered to a quite ridiculous and disproportionate extent when it does kick off next year.  I sincerely hope they will not succumb to using a double decker London bus in the opening ceremony.  That is so old-hat.  Nothing short of cringe making imo.

    Having said all that against the Olympic Games, I would just add that my husband will be well happy for that particular fortnight or however long it goes on for because he absolutely loves it.  Perhaps that’s partly why I hate it so much. 

  • MicheleB

    ooops, Ms Zaha Hadid
    It’s a pity there’s no event for most spelling errors

    or, given some of the input here, negativity.

  • Anonymous

    I think the achievement of simply getting the Olympics was brilliant. I was at Trafalgar square when the decision was made and i still remember it very clearly. It was a brilliant atmosphere. The contrast to the following day made it doubly memorable.

    A lot of the praise has to go to Ken Livingstone, even though he wasn’t really interested in the sport bit, rather he was more interested in the development of East London.  Despite his motives, it has already made a great impact.

    I’ve just been reading about Ken in the Telegraph. Apparently he is seeking Labour backing for his Mayoral campaign, but is receiving a lukewarm response.  There is a large part of me who supports him and is disappointed by Labour. On the otherhand, there is a part of me that would prefer to see a credible woman in the post, as we have had two men so far and it would be good to have someone who has a different perspective in the post.

    This has led me to thinking, is there a credible female politician that Labour would consider as a candidate for London Mayor? I can only think of Oona King, but judging from her recent interviews, she would not be interested.  Is there anyone else that could be considered who has high enough profile and isn’t damaged (in the eyes of the public) from being in the last government?

  • Robert

    And, of course, it was the Thatcher Tory government that gave precious little support to the Birmingham bid to host the 1992 Olympic Games back in the mid 80’s.

    In those days the government were convinced that people living north west of Amersham still covered their skin in woad. I apologise – I am being sarcastic – the more enlightened mandarins knew we wouldn’t stop keeping the coal in the bath until they shut the pits.

  • MicheleB

    Oona King’s lovely but that’s irrelevant and failed when she stood against Ken to be Labour candidate last year.  I’m sure she’d be a popular choice for the national party and a great constituency MP again but no, not London Mayor. 

    There’s so much resentment of London (viz: this thread alone) so our  Mayor needs to be a toughie.  KL brought some great improvements to so many heavy local problems really quickly so I hope he gets back in.  BJ has done nothing at all, he’s a laugh but that’s hardly the task.

    There’s not really much point in reading about KL in the Smellygraph, Gilligan is funded by them 24/7 (sorry, 24/4 and the other 3 days he does for free – posting on his own blogs) to do nothing but smears, even to the extent of accusing him of being behind a few that will eventually run parts of East London in to the ground.

    Ken loves London through and through and he’s always been full of great ideas.

  • Dave Simons

    I must confess I love these big ‘sporting events’ like the Olympics and World Football. I love the way they glue people en masse to  big screens, usually in towns and cities, where bars and houses frequently erupt with a loud collective roar. It means that relative ‘atheists’ ljke myself who are not devotees of the God ‘Sport’ can walk out into the more beautiful parts of the British countryside (including at present those parts under threat from High Speed Rail) and enjoy some peace and quiet with the birds and bees, flowers and trees, without being disturbed by a posse of four-wheel drives or mud-spattered motorbikes with the silencers left deliberately off. It’s just a pity that the beautiful British countryside is still under the grip of feudalism.

  • I would love to see the cycling – the Tour this year was amazing and the British cyclists brilliant. Reading the Spanish, French and Italian press every morning highlighted how poorly we appear to value the excellence of these athletes. Cavendish must surely be our best athlete just now yet seems not to feature in the press here.
    The Olympics will be amazing throughout with the  ParaOlympics moving as anything and the other equally so.
    No delays, no panic just delivery.
    Being there would be amazing and I wish my twin sons could go.
    Excellent prospect of our land celebrating and enjoying achievement.
    Annus mirabilis.

  • Robert


    What was the date of the copy of the Telegraph you were reading, please?

    Otherwise I couldn’t agree more with you.

  • ambrosian

    I still squirm with embarrassment at the recollection of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester with its parade of Morris Minors.
    Maybe the Olympics will have 20,000 synchronised Morris Dancers?

    I felt even angrier about the cost of the Olympics after watching the repeat last night of the heart-rending BBC documentary ‘Poor Kids’.
    Then I caught the end of Newsnight with that most odious of Blairites James Purnell criticising the last Government’s ambitious target to eliminate child poverty on the grounds that State action on child poverty would encourage parents to give up work and live on benefits.
    If you Google ‘James Purnell+expenses’ you will find this is the same James Purnell who milked the expenses system for all it was worth on his properties, managed to avoid paying Capital Gains Tax on the sale of his London flat and even claimed £250 for fridge magnets. Truly these people are shameless and, in my opinion, despicable.

  • Ron Taylor

    Good to see the British tradition of moaning about anything is strong here …

    I think you’ll find the global TV audience will be massive. 

  • Ron Taylor

    My only complaint about the Olympics is that it should have been held near Birmingham. 

    Many in the north will have to pay quite an amount to get down to London plus the costs of their tickets, food.

  • Quinney

    It’s grim up north. Nothing except a football semi final, everything in London as per usual. Please don’t give me “but it’s London’s games” either, our lotto tickets from all over the UK has funded this games and as I’ve said it before on here the Chinese held the equestrian events in Hong Kong which is 1500 km from Beijing.
    Why couldn’t we have one event in Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales or in the midlands/north of England. Why couldn’t we use the Manchester velodrome for the cycling as we have for world championships and to save expense?

    Anyway AC don’t tell me you’ll enjoy seeing Teflon Dave and Barmy Boris opening this event…..that would really be too much.

  • Dave Simons

    Absolute rot, Ron. What about the British tradition of going along with what everyone else thinks or does? Isn’t that why we, as an electorate, still keep putting the same bunch of retro hacks into government and grovelling every time there’s a Royal wedding? Some of us quite simply and genuinely aren’t interested in spectator sports – never mind ‘moaning about anything’ – and we are entitled to make our position known, because otherwise it gets obliterated by the herd mentality. Who cares what size the global TV audience is? I just hope that all those spectator couch potatoes are doing it for love and not just because everyone else is doing it.

  • Anonymous


    Here’s the link:

    Note, the author of the piece, I didn’t notice before so maybe that has a bearing on the article.

  • Anonymous

    If I gave the impression Ken wasn’t good for London, I apologise. I’ve met him many times and he impressed me with his passion for the job.  And i am not arguing for a woman for woman’s sake, I just feel it is noticeable that this perspective has been a little bit lost in the past few years.

  • Anonymous

    Richard you are confusing two different things and I accept, its easily done.

    The games are costing 2.2 billion, funded through national lottery and private funding. All those weekly pound coins funding a dream of winning a million quid, have been responsible for building an Olympic legacy.  

    However, there is also the regeneration project going on hand in hand with the Olympics, hence the higher figure. Without the games, they would not have got the funding for the regeneration project. At least, not so quickly. It would have taken years and years.

    It’s easy to complain about the cost, but 9 billion is nothing when you compare it to Crossrail. That is costing over 15 billion. 

    Maybe you should investigate what has actually been achieved before you write another rant about the Olympic project.

    Oh yeah, regarding the Dome. This was a project inherited by Labour, but conceived by John Major’s government.

  • Ehtch

    To “some”, anywhere north of Watford Gap and west of Swindon does not really exist, or is some sort of british empire old colony. They know their way to Heathrow/Gatwick/Stansted to get to their french family inherited Châteaux, or Tuscan retreats, but that is about it. The rest of Britain to them is a strange land. But when young, they did find their way to Glastonbury, or Rock in Corwall for some oh yah! holidays with their same sort.

  • Ehtch

    Some people keep on like a nun’s undergarments about their misunderstanding of sport. : )

    Personally, I can’t get enough of it, if presented right, unlike BBC’s sickly Wimbledon coverage, and their chinless horse crosscountry jumping events. But I am an inverted snob, after all. England cricket has succeded in getting rid of this stigma, and is bringing success, unlike Wimbledon. Thankully, Formula One racing has more or less been classless, and the brits have had plenty of success, and the way this part of the BBC presents it reflects it. Wimbledon should be presented like Formula One in its atmosphere, and I am sure brits will start winning it again in no time. Wimbledon is presented like an historical anachronism.

  • Ehtch

    The Olympic footie matches are held all over the country – Scotland and Wales included. Something to be thankful of, I suppose, but some could say just a token measure for the tribes of Britain. Would have been nice to see mountain biking and fast water canoeing held in Wales, but ah well. Wales will have to be satisfied with about a dozen footie matches at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Some are at Villa Park in Birmingham too, Ron Taylor, I believe.

    And interestingly, the first London Olympic event to happen is at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with football, and bizarrily two days BEFORE the opening ceremony. Make sense of that if you can. I can’t.

  • Ehtch

    furthermore Ron Taylor, good guide for each sport where the venues are, from the beeb at this link. Weymouth is the HQ for the sailing, if you are that way inclined. But that is still “darn sarf”! What was the name of that old sailing soap from a few years back again? Oh yes, Howard’s Way, of course. Very plummy it was!

  • Ehtch

    re.Wimbledon – get rid of Army/Raf/Navy servicemen/women at Wimbledon. It is a joke. get trained civilian staff in civies to do it.

    Any anyone remember they got barnardoes children to be ball boys?

    jezzzus Wimbledon, grow up will you. WHITES ONLY!

  • Rebecca Hanson

    Hi Ron – I was at Scotstoun on Saturday watching #3 helping her club qualify for the national youth athletics championship in Birmingham on 3 Sept.  Do come.  The atmosphere at the Scottish championship was wonderful.  

  • As a Sydneysider who still holds to the view that “those cities the Gods wish to abandon, they first award the Olympics”, when the event does sneak up on you, it is a great occasion.

    If Sydney is any guide, the best remembered aspect of the Olympics was the mood and vibe of the city over their duration. Even as a city not unused to its share of tourists, fun and high spirits made Sydney a splendid place to be. The volunteers receruited for the Olympics were fundamental to this spirit, and an aspect I understand, integrated into the 2012.

    As for the Table Tennis, prepared to be surprised. When I went after tickets, I knew that the athletics and swimming would be overbid by a factor of thousands. So I took the approach of “which sports at their highest level, am I unlikely to see in Sydney again”? And chose fencing, specifically the men’s team epee final.

    Now I know it’s no table tennis, but it was an amazing event. I reckon at the outset about 8 people knew what was going on, but given a few minutes (and the opportunity to cheer the Italians over the French), we were all fencing afficionados. Apparently, the scoring was as tight as fencing can get, and when Italy won, the French fencer lay devastated on the floor, Italians jubilant above him (I got a copy of the press photo). It dared to reach the heights of table tennis.

    And be sure to plan ahead for the Paralympics ticket sales. Be sure to lay out the map work to get hold of these much sought after prizes.

  • MicheleB

    No you didn’t offend me o.b.o. Ken TC, I was just singing his praises as so few do.
    The air quality improvement was tangible within a week of the CZ starting (I have a lot of battles with my petrolhead/truck fanatic son about that one) and the whole workablility of public transport has improved so much …. those things are so important in London (we’d certainly not be fit for the Olympics the way LT was before him).
    I quite liked Susan Kramer in the lead up to the first Mayoral election as she was very well-informed about infrastructure things but she’s gone out of the limelight now (or in to more profitable business!).

  • MicheleB

    LOL …. when he’s not trying to knife AC he’s trying it on KL.

  • Gilliebc

    I so agree Dave.  I suspect that we the people (not all of us) have been dumbed-down and more repressed since the second half of the last century than ever before.

    Prior to that us plebs were keep under control in a much more overt way. Mostly through the use of violence and intimidation.  But people could see what was happening and were under no illusions of their place in the scheme of things.  But then those who really hold the power world-wide became a bit smarter and now we are controlled in a much more subtle way.  So subtle that the large majority of plebs don’t even realise it!

    I had suspected for quite a long time that things were not entirely how we were being led to believe.  My now late parents had both given me plently of “clues” which I didn’t really believe, simply because they were my parents!  But that generation who were brought up without television and not under the influence of the MSM certainly were very switched on to how things are run.  It must have been passed down through the generations by word of mouth.  I think my generation were probably one of the first to openly rebel against our parents and have no respect for their opinions.
    It isn’t difficult to see now with hindsight just how that rebellious generation came about in the first place.  However, once the scales have fallen from a person’s eyes, there is no going back.