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Diary of an Olympics Volunteer, 2

Posted by admin on July 22, 2012

Shopping and Nesting in the Olympic Village

THE_MOOSE_CROPPED.JPGTEAM_IRELAND_adjusted_size_LOGO_copy.pngThe Olympic Village opened to all teams last week. Most of the athletes have not yet arrived in their accommodation, or have repaired to their respective training camps around the country. So each of the country teams has been setting up their offices and medical rooms and checking all the facilities for the arrival of the athletes.  Each country is allocated a townhouse or apartment, depending on the size of the team. They have been kitted out in a rather IKEA-like manner and although comfortable are somewhat joyless.

This means our Team Ireland has been using the Olympic highways for – shopping!  Like all the teams, we are ‘nesting’, and very competitive we are too! Each country is draping as many flags, posters and bunting along their balconies and windows as possible. Whilst I am very proud of the Irish orange, green and white ‘spectacular’, I confess that we have been trumped by Canada, which has installed a lifesize moose in the garden.

My job this week has been project managing the creation of a working environment for Team Ireland.

The media has been trumpeting problems, so here’s the truth as I see it:

  1. The Olympic Village is stunning. Very practical, beautifully designed and landscaped. The facilities would rival those at a posh Club Med, from banks through to beauty parlours.
  2. The apartments are smart and spacious. It is true that the beds are single and the furniture bland, hence the shopping to make them more personal,  but there are open spaces, TVs, and IT facilities in all the rooms.
  3. The catering is brilliant with the main dining hall offering foods of the world in a market-like setting 24 hours a day. There are also open street stalls serving hot food and coffee continuously.  Alcohol is not sold anywhere, but the crates of wine and beer keep going past my window nevertheless.
  4. Security provided by the Army is fantastic. The soldiers are polite, friendly, fully trained, intuitive and above all have the gift of common sense. G4S employees really are an embarrassment: surly, impolite and quite frankly not that bright. I assume this is what you get if you pay minimum wage to the front line and six-figure sums to the back office. Well, that's my personal opinion.
  5. The road system has certainly confused people, it is now mproving and we can get around in our marked cars reasonably easily. My official BMW is greeted with reverence – rather nice! People  stare in at the windows in the hope of catching Federer or Bolt lolling in the back.  Here’s the gen – the major stars use their own cars!

I love being a volunteer for London 2012.  Alongside the professionals we are all giving up our time to make this very special event an exceptional experience for athletes and spectators from all over the world.

Simon Laws, simon.laws@impronta.co.uk