Olympic anxiety

What is it about the Olympics that worries you? This week many of us silently celebrated the 100-days-to-go milestone by completing London 2012’s online survey to help them

gather information in order to provide the best possible experience for spectators

only to be greeted with a question that sought to interrogate our worries about the forthcoming Olympics. What, asked Neilsen, the company that London 2012 have hired to do their market research, do you have concerns about (select all that apply)? I can tell you that, although prior to completing this question, my concerns were pretty much at zero, with every option they gave, my trepidation steadily built.

Even the first option

nothing – no concerns

worried me – was I being stupid? No concerns – you can’t be serious? Then they gave us a list of potential worries – each one making me imagine a new fear. For example: mobility issues for the elderly or those with disabilities. Well, probably I should be worried about that – I am aware from looking at the disabled access icons on the London Underground map that the ancient tube system is practically inaccessible to disabled travellers. This contrasts somewhat with the build up to the Paralympics games. On a different note, today I was promised the opportunity to win 1000s of Paralympics tickets if I spent more than 50 quid at Sainsburys. I won 50p off a bottle of Coke instead.

Back to the survey and the next possible source of anxiety: was I worried about my food and drink options being rubbish or too expensive? Well, probably. Was I worried about overcrowding – well yes, that is what we have been promised: “sell out”, I believe, is the term.

The next one took the biscuit: “tickets being too expensive or hard to obtain”. Is that a worry or a fact? Are you telling me that the months of complicated lottery allocation procedures for the promise of a cheap ticket that finally revealed the lucky winners were the ones who bid the price of their house for a couple of front row handball preliminaries  was not a reality? Am I just being paranoid when I think that yes, the tickets were hard to obtain?

Then the worry options listed accommodation, ticket touting, interruption to daily life, as well as the biggie – cost to the city/UK and taxpayers. Yes, I am a little concerned about that. I think you would have to be mad not to be in the age of austerity, when we will gladly cut benefits to the poor/disabled/elderly/children but build a massive sports park in East London.

Was I worried about poor sportsmanship or disappointing performances? Was I worried about transport around London or transport to London (they had it in bold like that). What about traffic congestion? Parking? Bad seats? Long queues? Had I thought about expensive prices and a lack of alternative entertainment? Was I worried I would miss out on something because of lack of information? Was I worried about safety and security issues? Protesters? Poor signposting? The weather?

One of the options even asked me if I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on enough Olympic merchandise. I can tell you now – that was not one of my concerns. John Lewis has stocks and stocks of those mini cyclops things but I still do not want to buy one.

So what is this? I was going about my business not being particularly concerned about anything, then someone comes along and makes me feel that I should be worried about all kinds of things I hadn’t even thought of! Is it all part of the build up? Are these little frissons of fear part of the spectacle? Do they want us to be worried? Is this Olympics affect?

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4 thoughts on “Olympic anxiety

    • Ha ha! They also wondered if we were worried about negative press reports – me thinks there be another agenda … Our survey said people don’t like you reporters saying bad things, so please don’t!

  1. I feel compelled to write on this post as the topic of my girls’ sixth form assembly this morning was the Olympics! The girls confidently informed me that there were 92 days until the Olympics begin – is that right? We had a discussion about the areas the girls will be most interested in watching. I am pleased to say that one of my girls is going to be a volunteer as she is a dedicated canoe bod! Exciting stuff that was the Olympics “affect” on me this morning….I must admit it has disappated somewhat this evening……..

    • Yes, that’s right – the clock is ticking. I calculate it is already down to 90 days at time of posting. Excitement, anxiety, investment – the affective dimensions of the Olympic are definitely very seductive! And short-lived.

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