George Eustice: Try to ignore the Olympics hype

The London Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime event, which was preceded by a seven-year build up.

George Eustice
George Eustice

As a result, expectations for every aspect of the event have been extraordinarily high. Get anything wrong and there is no second chance. It is every press officer's nightmare.

The trouble with giant, one-off events is that, even with the best planning in the world, there will always be some problem waiting in the wings to get you. Following the trouble at Heathrow earlier this year, you can bet the Government placed huge emphasis on making sure London's border control ran like clockwork for the Olympics. It did, and well done to all concerned, but then that's not a story.

Having achieved the complex organisational feat of constructing multiple sites ahead of time and arranging for thousands of unpaid volunteers to help, who could have predicted it would all fall down when trying to get some paid security guards to turn up?

Then there are things beyond the control of London's organisers. It didn't make sense to have Olympic Lanes in a city like London because they impede rather than improve the transport infrastructure, but ever since the disaster of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when some athletes missed their events, the International Olympic Committee has insisted on the much derided 'Zil lanes' for any city seeking to host the Olympics.

LOCOG had the hallmarks of an organisation with too many advertising men and not enough media people in the top team, leading to clumsy mistakes and 'brand police' stories that sometimes snuffed out the enthusiasm ministers were encouraging. In Cornwall, one community event to celebrate the Games was told it could not use the words 'Olympic' or 'Torch' so it had to be called 'The Flame Festival'. Crazy.

The Olympics is undoubtedly a great boost for London but I can't help thinking that we would all enjoy it more if we just took it in our stride, if there was a little less hype and if it was allowed to just be a great sporting competition.

George Eustice is Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth and a former press secretary to David Cameron.

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