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Why doesn’t London want to see Tom Jones for free?

August 4, 2012   |   Posted by Emma Synnott

There is so much going on in London at the moment it is hard to keep up. But this sentiment appears to be shared by many – in fact too many. London is putting on some of the biggest musical events it has ever hosted in conjunction with live sport, and yet the venues are well under capacity. With the controversy still raging over ticketing for Olympic events, why is it that the capital’s two huge free venues are so unloved? I spent the best part of a day at the Hyde Park BT Live Site and was mightily impressed by the three enormous screens showing different live sport, by the array of food outlets, and the range of fun things for children and adults to do. All of this for absolutely no charge is a wonderful contribution to making the Olympics accessible to all. What’s more, Hyde Park and Victoria Park Live Sites are featuring the UK’s best-loved performers rocking their way into Londoners’ hearts, or hoping to at least. We have been shocked to learn that performers have cancelled and crowds have generally been way under expectations. But dig a little deeper and there appears to be a …

The future is east 

August 3, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

  I have been intrigued by the media articles showing distraught West End shop keepers and restaurateurs bemoaning the Olympics for emptying their emporia of customers. It seems that the promise of economic prosperity for all driven by the magic Olympic rings has evaporated as quickly as Mark Cavendish’s medal hopes. Or has it? I have spent part of every day for the past week and a half in and around Stratford or on the Park and the place is rockin’. It has been an absolute joy to see masses of happy people dressed in the colours of their nations enjoying their day on the Park. In particular the families, often several generations with small children experiencing something they can tell their grandchildren in years to come. “I was there”. One little boy I saw just wanted to watch the trains that ran under the main concourse..but that’s just a little boy thing. Most of us grow out of it, but a small minority grow up to be trainspotters.  For me London 2012 is still work in progress because it is a regeneration project interrupted by a few weeks of sport. The purpose of having the Olympics in the first …

Olympic sized drought

August 1, 2012   |   Posted by Emma Synnott

water

Who would have thought that after weeks and weeks of rain there could be a shortage of water at Olympic venues this week? We are certainly not talking the rivers and canals which are flowing freely but the far more immediate question of the drinking variety. London 2012 is the first games in recent times to offer free drinking water. Not since certain global beverage manufacturers managed to hoodwink the world into believing that paying for tap water to be bottled was better than drinking it directly from the tap, has there been such a reversal of fortunes for the …

Public transport Games?

July 31, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

travel 1

I travel to London from a suburban town most days by train and in a typical day I may go to 3 or 4 places in London by public transport. I never come into London by car and I am too cowardly to cycle. I think this makes me a pretty regular user of the transport system. In common with millions of regular users I was at first amused and then slightly irritated to hear Mayor Boris’s voice booming out at every tube station encouraging me to “Get ahead of the Games”. I really liked the cartoon adverts cleverly weaving …

Let the Games commence!

July 29, 2012   |   Posted by Jonathan Turner

I joined the Commission in the summer of 2007, knowing the London Olympic and Paralympic Games were 5 years away but still excited as a sports fan to be involved with the biggest sporting event in the world. As someone who is passionate about sustainability, I was also excited to be involved in assuring the sustainability of it. Now it’s equally amazing and exciting, if slightly trepidating, that the Games are underway and it’s all happening. As I’ve been on the journey from 2007 to now there have been many occasions when I’ve had to step back and think “just when I thought I’d got my head around the size and scale of the Games, it’s actually much bigger than that!” You can imagine a number of people from Rio will be walking round the Olympic Park and other venues over the next couple of weeks thinking “wow, have we really committed to delivering all this?!” One of my jobs in the Commission has been to keep track of all the sustainability commitments London 2012 has made, all the recommendations the Commission has made, and how all of these are being delivered. This has been a challenging task and I sometimes …

All we are saying…

July 28, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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My team have been out on the streets of East London interviewing anti-corporate protestors coming together in a combined “Day of action” to use the London 2012 Games as a platform for their campaigns. After last night’s Danny Boyle extravaganza the nation is feeling incredibly positive about the Games but there remains a significant minority of people who are concerned about the role of corporate sponsorship related to the Games.  Over the seven years I have been chair of the Commission I have met a wide variety of people from NGOs and also most of the corporate sponsors to talk about issues related to the sustainability of the Games and its legacy. Most of these relationships have been constructive and I think we have been helpful in providing neutral, unbiased assurance and fact based analysis of the issues within our scope of responsibility. Sir David Higgins once referred to the Commission as “the single source of the truth about sustainability and London 2012”. We have tried to live up to this challenge at all times. However, there have been exceptions. Some corporations are inclined to demonstrate ultra-defensive behaviour and reach for their lawyers as a first reaction to any inconvenient …

The world’s first low carbon Olympic cauldron

  |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

opening ceremony

Wow, what a show! Danny Boyle has shown why London is one of the world’s great centres for the creative arts by turning the Olympic opening ceremony into a compelling piece of theatre depicting our progress from “ye olde England” to the modern, eclectic society we have become today. Art is always open to interpretation but for me the show depicted the way in which our country was transformed from a simple rural community through to an un-sustainable state driven by the industrial revolution. Images of smoking chimneys and a huge growth in population at the time send a powerful …

Carrying a torch for British business

July 27, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

It was a pretty hectic day on the Olympic Park yesterday. In the middle of the day I helped LOCOG host a tour of the Park’s sustainability features with Environment Minister Caroline Spelman and President of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner. In common with most people they were blown away by the Park and there was great enthusiasm to capture the learning legacy from this sustainability experience. However we were upstaged a bit as Prime Minister David Cameron was also on the Park in the morning announcing a major event intended to promote inward investment and export business through London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is expected to make a major contribution to the £13Bn of new investment resulting from the Games. During the course of our assurance work we have seen many great examples of London 2012 providing a significant boost for British business. On Wednesday of this week I was honoured to be invited by LOCOG to a dinner before the final dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony. At dinner, I sat next to the two people who own the company that designed the Olympic torch. Whilst we have been critical of the non-low carbon torch in the past it was great to hear about …

Will the Olympic flame light my fire?

July 26, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

I was about six when the biggest cheer in boxing history was recorded when Henry Cooper knocked down Cassius Clay (now known as Muhammad Ali) in a non-title fight in London. There was controversy at the end of the round as Clay’s corner claimed he had a split glove (allegedly to give him more recovery time), Cooper lost the fight with a cut eye and the rest is history. “Our ‘Enry” went on to be a well-loved figure among the British public until his sad death last year, Ali went on to be the greatest sportsman the world had ever seen, chat show sensation and a global ambassador for civil rights. In common with many people of my generation Ali was the first person to open my eyes to the inequalities of the world and he has been an inspiration to me ever since. I don’t agree with everything he said but I would defend his right to say it. The sheer spectacle of Ali lighting the Olympic flame in Atlanta was one of the great Olympic moments for me. In the home of the civil rights movement, the great man fought against his debilitating Parkinson’s disease to inspire the …

Over the Zil?

July 25, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

The media love snappy names don’t they? I am often referred to as the “sustainability watchdog”. I don’t like the expression much and I try to refer to the Commission as an “assurance body” because that is what we are. I am told by members of the media and my media advisors that the pubic are familiar with the expression “watchdog”. Of course they are because the media keep using it. If they stopped maybe we could give things their real names. Here is another one. Anything mildly controversial ends in “gate” ever since the Watergate scandal in the Nixon government, which happened before the majority of journalists were born. The Olympic expression beloved of the media and air quality campaigner Simon Birkett is “Zil lane”. This refers to the 36 Km of dual carriageway within the 160 Km Olympic Route Network that will have one lane closed at certain times of day. This will allow people whose job it is to make the Games work to be able to travel the city with a bit more ease than usual. We were advised during our annual review of 2009 that there would be no such lane closures so we are disappointed …


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