Sunday, 29 July 2012
Olympics Day 2: Smackdown
Today was my first time inside the London 2012 Olympic zone, as I headed to Earls Court to watch volleyball. I ordered my tickets at the last minute - they released a bunch of cheap seats two weeks ago - so I had to collect them at the box office. They warned me to get there two hours early for airport-style security, so I went two and a half hours early ... and of course it took me about 30 seconds to get my tickets and about another 30 seconds to walk through the admittedly severe security (with friendly Scottish soldiers manning the metal detectors).
Then I had more than two hours to kill inside the venue. So I ate lunch (not too expensive and rather delicious too), watched the people, spied through the doorway at the Germany vs Russia match that was still going on, watched other events on a big screen, then took my cheap seats for two matches: Argentina beat Australia and then the USA beat Serbia. (Above is the view from my seat, right is an Instagram version of that pic.)
The atmosphere was great fun - one of the things I love about the Olympics is the way the crowds cheer for great plays no matter who made them. The underdog usually gets the most sympathy (this is even stronger with a British crowd). And the arena is refreshingly free of corporate branding.
On the other hand, why are there still scantily clad all-girl cheerleaders at an event like this? It seems tacky at the very least, and it's also insultingly sexist. And getting out of the venue was a bit nasty, with intense crowd control in operation that forced everyone to be very, very patient. But it worked, the Tube station wasn't too crowded, and I got home fairly easily, where I watched other things on TV. As you do.