Streets of fire

May 18, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Tags: , , , ,

At long last the torch relay comes to the country, signalling the start of London’s third modern Olympics. People who have worked on Games in the past tell me that the attitude of the nation tends to change when the torch arrives; people start to get excited about the Games and more positive about them generally. I hope this is the case, as much as I support the doom mongers and whingers right to free speech I would like to hear more voices raised in celebration and pride. The greatest show on earth is coming to my city for the only time, certainly in my life. I am determined to enjoy every minute of it and bore my grandchildren about it for the rest of my life. Note to self; encourage grown up kids to start breeding soon so I can bore my grandchildren for a bit longer. Of course it is not perfect. We were critical of LOCOG and their energy partner last year for their failure to deliver their commitment to a “low carbon torch”. However I have been impressed with LOCOG’s efforts to reduce the size of the entourage following the torch around and subsequent number of …

Village People

May 1, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Tags: , , , , , ,

Athletes Village

It was great to take our Commissioners on a tour of the Olympic Village and many thanks to Nigel Garfitt, Tony Sainsbury and the team from LOCOG for patiently showing us round and giving us their valuable time so close to the Games. The first impression of the experience is high security, we had 3 separate ID checks to get into the Village and for specific buildings. Nigel is the director responsible for the Village and many other aspects of the Games, his pass did not have the correct date so he was refused entry until the error had been …

Assuring a legacy?

March 14, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Tags: , , ,

121105 Aerial shoot_Olympic Park

It seems a long time since London was announced as the host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and those of us involved in the sustainability aspects of the bid tried to work out what a body to assure the sustainability performance would be like. We started with the rather cynical notion that there is no such thing as a sustainable Games, it is not possible to justify the gross consumption of resources to support a sporting event. We can only call London 2012 sustainable if there is a sustainable legacy. We think of legacy in terms of …

Supply Chain – the vital link

January 16, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Most organisations channel a high proportion of their revenue to their supply chain and rely on them to deliver their goals, including sustainability. LOCOG is unique in this respect in that they not only rely heavily on their supply chain for delivery, but are also part of the revenue stream. Much of the work in delivering an Olympic and Paralympic Games is done through a type of barter system, where companies trade brand recognition for cash, value in kind services or in some cases, both. There are also wider issues related to supply chains and commercial partners. Human rights are not well recognised in some supply chains and the current or historic corporate responsibility practices of some companies could be called into question when considering the Olympic and Paralympic values. To this end I was grateful to LOCOG for inviting me to their supplier conference this week: some 400 suppliers were represented and the theme was all about winning. The suppliers are already winners having competed for the work but there is a further challenge to deliver an inspirational and sustainable Games. I was curious to know how much the sustainability message would be pushed in a project where time is …

Light my fire

November 8, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Much media attention was focused on the failure to deliver a low carbon Olympic torch earlier this year. This was disappointing in terms of the symbolism of the Olympic flame and the message it could have given to the world about a sustainable Games. The actual carbon impact is very small indeed, LOCOG will save more carbon by limiting the number of vehicles in the inevitable motorcade that follows the procession and ensuring the vehicles that are allowed are as low carbon as possible. The torch was all about the message. We should not forget that LOCOG also promised a low carbon Olympic cauldron; the flame that is lit during the opening ceremony and stays alight throughout the Games. This is about the message and the carbon. We won’t know the details until the opening ceremony but I am encouraging LOCOG to think about this in a very holistic way. Firstly; conservation should be considered as the first design challenge, so we would expect the flame to burn much less fuel than its predecessors. If it’s anything like Sydney, London’s cauldron could use as much gas during the Games as 225 UK households use in a year – that is …

Who will save the world – Wenlock and Mandeville?

October 11, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

London 2012 Shop opening at Stansted Airport

Part of the Commission’s work involves dealing with the huge weight of expectation people have for the Games. First there are the pessimists, moaners and naysayers; “We won’t win the bid” (we did), “the venues will be late” (they are all virtually ready), “it will go over budget” (it did not, but admittedly the budget was very generous), “the logo is rubbish” (actually I agreed at the time but I quite like it now), “the mascots are naff” (slightly harder one to argue with but the kids seem to love them), the latest from the misery mongers is that London …

Eton quite full

September 14, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Olympic Venue Eton Dorney on a sunny day

Reflections on the test event at the Olympic rowing venue I admit to a special interest in the Eton Dorney venue for the Olympic and Parlaympic rowing and canoeing events. As a local resident I have reservations about the impact of the event on traffic in the area but as Chair of CSL I think it is a wonderful venue and if the sun shines as it did when I visited the test event it should prove to be a stunning backdrop to the event on which high hopes of British success are pinned. In common with other test events, …

No time to waste

September 5, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy


Waste management and recycling is an important topic, especially when it comes to the world’s largest sporting event. This topic and the issues involved give particular emphasis to the challenge for London 2012 to meet its promise to host “a truly sustainable Games”. You may recall that last year the Commission released a waste management review, which looked at London 2012’s commitment to the promise of the Games being ‘a catalyst for new waste management infrastructure in East London’. A year on, I’m really looking forward to talking more extensively on the topic when I visit the midlands to present at …

London Prepares: Two Tales of One City

August 31, 2011   |   Posted by The Commission

The price of fish Having recently moved into Stratford, I was delighted and surprised to find evidence of a resident badger in the garden.  Its fresh digging, D shaped tunnels and chubby paw prints mean I eagerly await the arrival of a wildlife camera so I can set eyes on the snuffling creature….and dispel my suspicion that it is a cruel joke played on the unsuspecting Aussie by my London friends. My mother has another theory entirely:  she’s convinced that ‘Badge’ is an environmental refugee from the Olympic Park.  I live 30 minutes walk away Mum!  I know those setts are big but I don’t think Boris has extended the superhighways from Bikes to Badgers just yet. Badgers though, are topical for the Games. At least, they are at Hadleigh Farm where LOCOG recently held its Mountain Bike test event as part of the London Prepares series.  Here, LOCOG had carefully roped off a major Sett close to the field of play after attempts to lure the Badgers to human-dug ‘hotel accommodation’ in the nearby paddock failed to attract stayers (one suspects a poor review in the Badger Daily but who knows?) There are definitely more glamorous occupations than peering …

Half a world away

August 18, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Shaun McCarthy - Summer 2011 - Olympic Park Australia

Can London match Sydney’s “green games” legacy? I recently paid a visit to Australia in a privately funded trip connected with my non-CSL business. Despite this I could not resist the temptation to take a look round the Olympic Park during my free time to see how the legacy is going. I was impressed. The Park is located in the moderately affluent suburb of Homebush, 30 minutes train ride from the city centre. It does not have the green space as a centrepiece that London will have but it is good to see economic development in the area, with good …