Life of the GamesPosted: August 1, 2012
The Olympic Village is where the athletes can relax, hide from the media and prepare themselves mentally for their competition.
The media are banned from the Village, but an athlete’s room has been recreated in the Village Plaza where the media can conduct interviews. Clever!
The buzz in the village is amazing! Every athlete and official wears their team colours and kit, so every journey I make across the village is incredible! Over 200 different nations have made this village their home for the next 2 weeks. On a simple 100 metre journey I could see an Italian boxer sparing with his coach, a Columbian walker, a super tall French basketball team, a Venezuelan cyclist, a traditional Muslim lady out for a jog…and everything in between.
Each country has flags hanging from their balconies, the roofs and in the windows of their offices. It is so colourful!
Then the movement of people – you have to look out for either a cyclist (Chris Hoy cycled passed me yesterday), a procession of dignitaries, electric security vehicles, golf carts, delivery vans, red London buses, medical vehicles, armed security, army boys, jogging atheltes and fellow Games Makers buzzing around on duty. It is a hive of activity!
What I admire the most about the whole building project was that everything was designed and built backwards – ie with legacy first and them practical for the Games. That means that all the apartment blocks were first and foremost designed as comfortable flats to be rented and sold, and then converted to be used for the Olympics.
When we were doing inventory checks in the rooms before the athlete arrived, you could see the skeleton of the flats – where the lounge and kitchen would be, where the TV socket was etc. All they would need to do after the Games is lay new floors, put in skirting boards and put in kitchens. So cleverly thought out!
The street names are all related to the Games too…
The dining hall is the biggest building in the Village. It is a temporary structure and houses the main dining hall as well as the workforce dining area. It must be such a thrill for the athletes and officials to walk to the entrance to the main dining hall through flags of all the participating nations.
The Globe is the entertainment area for the Village residents. There are internet points, a bar (no alcohol is sold in the Village so only alcohol free drinks), live music, TV screens, video games etc. It is so crazy to see a Russian playing pool with a Jamaican and the vibe in the Globe is so….international! Nowhere on the planet would a bar be so cosmopolitan!
The Village Plaza is like a mini High Street. There is a florist, post office, phone shop, ‘corner shop’ and an official London 2012 merchandise shop. There is also the most important IOC office and the Protocol Lounge, where dignitaries meet to get their Village accreditation. This is one of the main entrances to the Village for the athletes and officials, so this is another hive of activity, and you feel the energy of the Games as soon as you have gone through the scanners.
Arriving for my shift on the day of the Opening Ceremony I walked passed tourists trying to get photos of the Village from Stratford, and I beamed. What a privilege it is for me to be able to enter this ‘sacred’ world, and although I am going to see so little of the Games, I get to see a side that few people get to see, and this is incredibly special!