Laura is back with one more guest post about the Olympics. She lives south of London and attended many events. We asked her to give us the inside scoop on what it was like for spectators at a variety of venues. Thanks, Laura!
Hundreds of thousands of people were disappointed in their applications for the hottest tickets of the year. Apparently though, getting hold of Olympic tickets was the easy part. With all of the warnings coming from various organising teams, it seemed as though actually reaching the venues would be a gold medal deserving achievement all by itself. There were talks of 2 hour queues to get on to the underground, stations so overcrowded it would take several hours to get out of them and congestion absolutely everywhere.
With this in mind, my family set off for our first event, which was due to start at 16:30, at 10:00. On a regular day (my father takes the exact same route to work every day, just getting off the tube one stop earlier) this journey would take under an hour and a half but we were hoping to arrive with around an hour to spare. So imagine our surprise when we arrived at Waterloo Station and got on to the first underground train that came along, even managing to get seats. Luckily there was plenty to do at the venues because we arrived VERY early!
Security to get in to the venues was a military operation- quite literally. When the company drafted to provide all the security staff for the Games, G4S, admitted they would not in fact be able to produce the amount of people required, members of Great Britain’s Armed Forces were drafted in to help. They did so with professionalism and charm, chatting and joking with spectators whilst ensuring our safety. The rules were essentially the same as for an airline, with no liquids over 100mls allowed, although you could take in an empty water bottle to fill up at specific points inside. There were no queues to get through security, with hundreds of lanes at each venue.
This lack of reported congestion was the same at all of the venues and events we went to, with the closest thing to a hold-up being a broken down car on the motorway. The praise has to go to the organising committee of the Games. Plans had been put in place across the capital for people to work from home wherever possible, for trains to come far more frequently and to create quick, organised routes into and out of stations and venues. Everything flowed really nicely. The logistics behind it all must have been crazy and complicated but the appearances were far from that. Going to the Olympic Park on the Jubilee Line, passengers were advised to get off one stop early at West Ham when Stratford station was very busy. A clear, quick and pleasant walking route was set up from West Ham to the park, with Gamesmakers positioned along it, welcoming people. As will probably always be the way, a lot of passengers did ignore these announcements and carry on to Stratford thinking that they would be the only ones clever enough to do this… Stratford was therefore jam-packed with people but it was a constantly moving crowd so, while it may have been slightly uncomfortable it was at least a relatively short wait.
It is impossible to go anywhere in London by public transport and not see the hot pink signs that have been put in place, making getting lost virtually impossible. All of the maps throughout the Underground had been updated with little pink labels highlighting venues. Stations were decorated with signs to aid in crowd control and making sure people were in the right place to avoid total chaos. We travelled to and from Games Venues over 5 times and did not encounter a single problem.Oh, did I mention we did all this with one in an electric wheelchair?All photos by Laura Daboo.