Don’t Forget Your Wellies!
Our World | On 12, Jul 2012
Do you recall that England at Euro 2012 were based in Poland and flew thousands of miles to play their games in Ukraine? This is not necessarily unusual and that at the next World Cup in Brazil there will be 32 teams spread across the whole country. Following football for many years now I have come to expect that these locations are “sexy”. They of course have always been in warm sunny locations with 5 star luxury facilities. But not all sports teams are as pampered as England.
Now if you can, just imagine that there are 200 teams not just 16 competing, where would you put them? Then compound that by playing all the games in one city – sound familiar? London 2012. I know that there is an athletes village to house all the competitors and that the media and committees are in various hotels etc, but long before the games commence the teams travel to the UK to acclimatise and train, so where are they?
Clearly the national associations have had help from LOCOG sourcing suitable venues, but with 216 countries competing in 26 sports (and athletics is just one of those sports) you suddenly get a sense of the mammoth task. The logistics are awesome and the organisers are to be congratulated, but of course reading the list I couldn’t help but notice some of the slightly more interesting choices and given the recent weather, what must have been ultimate culture shocks for our guests.
The UK has been battered by horrific weather in the last few months, but last week there were flood warnings in place throughout the North East, so what welcome to England for the Sri Lanka and Grenada teams who are in Durham and Sunderland respectively and for the Gambia who are in York – they must have thought it was a canoeing centre!
In terms of weather, conurbation, culture and just general contrast, I’m not sure these can be beaten. I’m not sure the last thing on these athletes check list as they left was “wellington boots”, but it probably should have been as Botswana headed to Cardiff, Namibia to Glasgow and Kuwait to Antrim. And of course there are literally hundreds more like the Chinese weightlifting team who are based in Bangor or Tanzania in Bradford.
I remember at the Beijing games reading about how the GB athletes were in one place and the cycling team were training somewhere else etc. But what I just didn’t realise was the complexity and enormity of the task when you multiply it out to 11,000 competitors. They all want first class facilities for training, living and travelling but I somehow had it in my mind that they would be in and around London and the South East. Wrong! They are about as widespread and far flung as possible across the whole of the UK in search of somewhere to train, relax and live in preparation for their big day. Good luck to all of them and welcome to Great Britain!