6 Oct

Olympic Run Can Put Support Back On Track

London 2012 Logo

Since winning the bid back in 2005, the organisers behind the London Olympic and Paralympic Games have been given a relatively easy ride by the public, writes Chris Broadbent. Of course, there have been dissenting voices. Particularly from those from a rather more artistic vantage point, who have seen state funding erstwhile earmarked for the Arts re-directed to more sporting spheres.

But by and large there has been widespread public support. Last year a BBC poll revealed over 70% supported the Games and the majority of those said they 'strongly supported' London 2012.

Of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the biggest event ever to take place in the UK. But they will also be by far the most expensive. And yet, despite the harsh economic climate, the public have still backed London 2012. It is only in the past six months, where the murmurings of discontent have grown a little louder.

It all began with the ticketing process which left many sports fans empty-handed. The world's biggest sporting party is being held in London, with taxpayers forking out a hefty sum for the entertainment and yet many are left without an invite.

Many are more than a little cheesed off, particularly when tickets are being widely touted by overseas travel agencies who have guaranteed tickets easily available for international visitors. LOCOG need ways in which they can re-engage and re-connect with the public who are in danger of feeling alienated from London 2012.

A good example of them clawing back public support was in the recent unveiling of the National Lottery Olympic Park Run, which will take place on, March 31, 2012. The event will give members of the public the unique opportunity to be among the first to cross the finish line in the Olympic Stadium.

The five mile event opened its ballot for registration on September 30, and will close on October 27, with a £15 entry fee. 5000 lucky entrants will be drawn at random and will have the honour of being the first official competitors in the Olympic Stadium.
The route will also pass the Olympic Park, taking in world-class venues like the Velodrome and Aquatics Centre. Each runner will also be given two spectator passes each so their nearest and dearest can enter the stadium and cheer them over the Olympic finish line.

Of course in the lead up to London 2012, the priority for the Olympic Park will be to test events to ensure when the Games arrive, they are fit and ready to deliver a spectacle for the whole world to admire. But it is important that the British public feel some sort of ownership of London 2012. It is after all, their Games.

The organisers behind the National Lottery Olympic Park Run should be congratulated for throwing the stadium open to the public and giving them a unique opportunity. Let's hope this is the start of a series of opportunities for the public in the lead up to and the immediate aftermath of London 2012 that will truly make them feel part of the biggest show on earth.