The London 2012 Olympcs are quickly approaching, and we’re super excited that we get to be here for that. While Scotland isn’t hosting that many events, it still featured heavily in the torch marathon and there will be events played in Glasgow.
The general consensus seems to be that most British citizens think the entire thing is a total waste and a vague embarassment. Part of this is due to the current economic condition of England (Scotland’s economy is growing faster and unemployment here is lower) and part of it is due to the annoyance of having to be the first country to go after Beijing. For Edinburgh, the entire city is focused each August on the Fringe and International Festival, and therefore the Olympics are viewed as somewhat of an upstage on the Scottish capital’s time to shine.
We’re big Olympics fans – Sara and I love watching both the Winter and Summer games, and we’re ordering TV service just for the Olympics this year. Growing up abroad the Olympics was always one of the rare times you could connect with the United States and it was always universally available to some degree on television so I can clearly remember each of the games from my childhood.
In 2008, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend the Olympics in Beijing and it was there that Sara discovered her one true sporting passion: handball. We’re not sure if it was the blonde Scandinavians, the uniformity of their last names (all ending with -son), or the quick pace, but she hasn’t stopped talking of it since. Tickets for the London games were already far into the allocation process when we moved here, but we did manage to score handball tickets in London and a soccer (football) match in Glasgow. If anyone reading this wants tickets the best way to obtain them is to sign up the notificaiton mailing list and then buy like mad when they release new allotments (usually in batches of 50,000). I was on the train and saw the sweet confirmation of handball ticket glory go through just seconds before entering the Queen Street station tunnel where my internet signal would be terminated.
When the Olympic torch came through Edinburgh, we made sure we could see it. Even with the prevailing attitude of apathy, there was a great turnout for the torch relay and we had a perfect view having arrived at the route about 30 minutes prior. We stationed ourselves on the George IV bridge just south of the Royal Mile and were lucky to have an actual handoff happen right in front of us. Security was pretty tight – you can see the gray shirted guys kneeling down in a outward facing formation while the handoff was conducted. Right after the handoff I managed to call out to the torch bearer where Sara proceeded to take one of the most unflattering pictures ever managed of me expressing the Olympic spirit with my tired torchbearing compatriot. Lets just say there were a copious amount of chins. We won’t be posting that one. She contends that events conspired to make it an impossible shot. We’ll let close friends view the photo in-person and they can judge. Tired torchbearers were then scooped up by a yellow bus and the entire procession continued on its way.
There was some contoversy around the LOCOG’s desire to place Olympic rings on the castle in Edinburgh. Their request was flatly denied by Historic Scotland, and instead the rings were placed on the Mound in Edinburgh and in George Square in Glasgow.
Another bit of weirdness is the UK’s official team name – “Team GB” for Team Great Britain. Even though Northern Ireland competes as part of Team GB, the moniker of United Kingdom isn’t used due the fact that “Team GB” its shorter, catchier, and easier to market. The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that all Irish can choose to be UK citizens, Irish citizens, or both, and as such they can choose which country to represent.
Great Britain is one of only three countries who have never missed an Olympics since 1896, and this will be the third time London has hosted the games. This would have been the fourth time, but the 1944 games were canceled due to World War II.