Amid tales of lost busses, torn up motorway lanes and soldiers at security checkpoints, athletes started pouring into the London Olympic village yesterday.
With countries having their own blocs and athletes pairing up, rooms were taken to with the kind of excitement one should feel just ten days before the opening ceremony.
Beforehand, though, American 400m hurdler Kerron Clement posted an admonishing Tweet yesterday, bemoaning a lost bus which took four hours to reach the Olympic village from Heathrow airport. There were also brand new urban myths sprouting up about busses and taxis operating with Satellite Navigation technology which did not have the Olympic village programmed in as a destination.
It must be said that small issues with transport may come and go and that no event will ever be logistically perfect. London is a city where traffic moves slowly, anyway, and Heathrow will now be welcoming approximately 237,000 passengers a day, as opposed to the usual average of 190,000. ‘Experts’ may be looking at it, but pampered athletes will just have to cope with delays on the way until everything is ironed out for the big opening. They will be well catered for in the confines of the village.
Many athletes have, today, spoken of what a fantastic rest they had in their first night in their dorms. Some spoke of fitful sleep. You cannot please everyone.
For example, husband and wife duo Russell and Lauryn Mark, both Australian shooters, have allegedly been banned from sharing quarters. They will be angered, but as elite athletes they must be prepared for something like this, where they must spend time apart in accordance with the wishes of a culturally different host or their own team?
More and more athletes will troop into the village. Some, like the Brits, will also nip out for training elsewhere, but for the majority this is it: they are at home for the next month. Some famously make the most of that…
They will have access to a cinema, a residents bar (alcohol free), giant relaxation areas, and an enormous dining hall offering a range of foods from Halal meals to Afro-Caribbean cuisine. There is also the customary McDonald’s counter within the great hall.
Organizers will accommodate the competitors as much as possible. However, like Mr. and Mrs. Mark and Kerron Clements, athletes taking part in the Olympics inadvertently agree to a social contract. They are at the whim of the hosts, even if they are being lavishly looked after by them. They have their safety and performance in mind when they prepare for them.
It is for this reason that safety fears will be allayed in time before the event starts; it is the reason that minor issues will be seen past because of the greater morals and achievements of the ancient Games.
It is also the reason why no one should complain when it is revealed that the London Olympics 2012 will be the most tested in history. Scientists and officials are on site so as to test at least half of the athletes at the Games. More than 6,000 will be taken between the opening ceremony and the closing of the paralympic games.
Fairness is the important point. Everyone will be going through the same thing, regardless of who they represent.