/ Travel & Leisure

Is your Olympic glass half full or half empty?

Man looking at reflection - mixed emotion

With the Olympic Games almost upon us, it’s time to embrace the positive change the Games will bring. Does the promise of a buzzing London outweigh any niggles you might have about the Olympics?

As I’ve been a little critical of the Olympics ticketing process I’m taking a moment to reflect on the good, as well as the bad, when it comes to our Olympic summer. The Games are nearly here and I’m finally getting into the spirit. So are the downsides really all that bad?

For example, The Greater London Authority’s Band D council tax includes a £20 charge to contribute towards the Games. I don’t mind paying it. It’s not the increased tourism and media coverage of our country that I’m most pleased about (we have Diamond Jubilee excitement for that), but rather the infrastructure improvement it will leave behind.

Yes, the tube upgrades every weekend have been irritating, but if it leaves a better network in its wake, it’ll have been worth it. And huge swathes of east London have received a much-needed renaissance.

London rejuvenated or commuter chaos?

I can even live with the inevitable challenging commutes while the Games are on. Living in north-west London, I’ll have the joy of negotiating the crowds in Wembley and Baker Street, but I’ll cope. That said though, if the priority traffic lanes for visiting dignitaries start holding up the emergency services and cause traffic gridlock, the public mood, and mine, are likely to shift quickly.

So what about the other downsides? Increased hotel costs have hit the headlines, with prices at some chains rocketing. We’ve also seen costly Olympic merchandise go on sale – although some might feel this is a welcome boost to the British economy.

If you live in Stratford, you’ll be preparing yourself for higher prices at local shops, packed out public transport, and restaurants and pubs rammed full of tourists. Maybe you’ll enjoy the buzz?

Increased parcel costs

Well, none of the downsides really bother me – the upside of London hosting the Games easily outweighs them. But there is one small thing that I’m still challenged by – the increased cost of sending a parcel during the Games.

Parcelforce Worldwide, Royal Mail’s courier business, will apply a £1 charge to the cost of deliveries to postcodes beginning E, EC, N, NW, SE, SW, W and WC in a bid to recoup extra logistical costs. Sounds like a company cashing in to me, with the move affecting even those who have no interest in the Olympics and who live nowhere near the games venues. It’s only a pound, but it’s the principle.

So what are your biggest gripes with the Olympics? Or are you, like me, looking forward to the Games, even if they bring a bit of cost and inconvenience with them?


I see the upsides for the sponsors, and those enterprises condoned by ‘the Olympic family’ and yes some local businesses will benefit.
But where is the benefit for the ordinary Londoner? Even attempts to make a few extra shillings by renting out a room or 2 has been widely discouraged, some local authorities have declared it illegal, and the taxman threatens to ‘knock on anyone’s door’ who rents out for this period.
Local businesses have been told it is ‘illegal’ to advertise anything to do with the Olympics [IOC rules], and the promises that British business, caterers etc.. would benefit from Olympic contracts has been proven a tissue of lies aimed at getting the public behind the bid.

The tube upgrades are ongoing long term will not be finished until the Olympics are long gone, I believe that lumping them in with Olympic improvements is a bit of a red herring.

Considering the amount of disruption we face, and the way we have been treated over the ticket sales. Where exactly is the upside? most of us will watch at home, and it doesn’t matter if the games are in France, Lichtenstein, Bikini atoll or on the moon, the TV coverage will be the same, the only difference is I wont be financing them out of my council tax.

Travelling from Norfolk to London by train via Stratford it still looks as though a lot of work has to be done to make the area look clean and tidy – and only a few weeks to go now. The amount of grafitti and weed growth alongside the railway, and the general shabbiness of many of the stations, will give a very poor impression to visitors.
I’m not particularly interested in the Olympic Games as they are conventionally staged but I am rather taken with the idea of holding them on the Moon as m. suggests. The weightless state would add a fascinating extra dimension to the action and be much more enjoyable [or shades of “It’s a Knockout” more like].

Phil says:
11 June 2012

I’m angry about the waste of money, about the bullying by the Olympic delivery committee, about the reserved routes for dignitaries through London, the disruption to normal travellers and the quasi-religious hysteria surrounding the Olympic flame. I shall not be sorry when the whole sorry circus has packed up and gone.

Sophie Gilbert says:
12 June 2012

I am selfishly delighted the Olympic Games are not taking place in Edinburgh, where I stay, and I greatly sympathise with all the comments above. I love m.’s and John Ward’s combined It’s Knock Out and on the moon idea though, I would watch the Olympics then.

I will buck the trend and say how excited I am about the Olympic Games – my glass is completely full! There may be a little disruption but it’s only for a few weeks – i’m sure we’ll cope. We get to show off how fantastic a city London is while having the best athletes in the world performing at amazing locations – volleyball on Horseguards Parade, showjumping at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, cyclists flying down the Mall! I can’t wait and will make the most of it as I doubt the Olympics will return to these shore for many years

Chris, a little disruption? have you seen the Locog guidelines for the affected areas yet. They have virtually shut down business for 6 weeks or more, these Olympics are going to push some people out of business and cost jobs.
Amongst other gems: they are advising you to take a holiday for the whole period; banning clients visiting & all deliveries; however they are now allowing you to take your own food to work, but no drinks in bottles more than 100ml, so the advice is to stock up your work fridge with the stuff you like.
Oh and remember to carry anything you have in a plain white plastic bag, as only sponsors brands are allowed in affected areas.
The whole thing is so unbelievable if Which would allow me the space I would love to publish it, otherwise you just might think I am fabricating it.

Glass completely empty.

Working in London, I have booked the whole olympics off so that I don’t have to come into London, most notably St Pancras.

Yes the olympics are good for many people but I like Football, F1 and Rugby. The olympics is either not applicable to these sports, or it’s not the top level of the game and therefore pointless to me.

The olympics is good if you like athletics, horses, watersports, and all other ball sports that don’t get enough live coverage. I just don’t like those sports so I’m not interested.

par ailleurs says:
13 June 2012

So glad to see some dissenting voices here. I was beginning to think that I was the only person in the country to be completely disinterested in the whole thing.
I wish all the athletes well, particularly those in the lower profile sports without the big backing money but as for the rest of it I find it one big yawn.