This isn’t the way I planned to begin this blog but the other day another article
came out about the miniscule television coverage (print media wasn’t much better) of the Paralympic Games in the U.S. and I’m finding real laugh out loud kind of humor with how different our perceptions can be of the same blob, in the same spot, at the same time. The blob I speak of is the Paralympic Games and I can’t pass up this opportunity to figure in on this “hot topic” blob. I’m a bit of a cheat here cuz as I mentioned in the blog on the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies I read the book.
OK, Gary Zenkel, President of NBC Olympics and Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships said, “there was only limited coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics in the United States because it was held too soon after the Olympics and American viewers were suffering from fatigue.” I guess he meant sport-viewing fatigue, which strikes me as odd for sport smitten Americans.
So, I attended the IPC Marketing Summit in London on September 5th when Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London pronouncing that “the Paralympics should be the giant climax of the whole thing, the Olympics whetted the (sports viewing) appetite and the Paralympics (AKA blob) bring it to a point of fruition.” Mayor Johnson was speaking about the 60 million people in the UK and 4 billion worldwide that could watch the Paralympics on television. Two different perspectives, same blob.
To be fair at the final press conference
Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG (London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games) revealed that two thirds (40 million) of the UK population watched the Paralympic Games on television. OK so it wasn’t the whole 60 million, but wait he then announced that close friends rang him to say that the “most spine tingling moments of their sport viewing careers” happened during the 2012 Paralympic Games. Bottom-line is Americans didn’t get to choose whether or not they were too tired from the foreplay to continue towards a spine tingling climax, instead they took a nap.
Now, I shall commence the intended, somewhat shortened blog. At one of the daily press conferences during the Paralympic Games, Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) said, “the spirit doesn’t start at these Paralympic Games the spirit starts in each of our countries.” What I heard, remember it’s my perspective, was what we we’re feeling, the spirit of inclusion, equity and love while in the thick of the 2012 Paralympic Games, can’t wait for the Games to blast off, those values have to be home grown if we ever want to generate social change. Or as DMB (Dave Matthews Band) sings “you got to do much more then believe if we want to see the world change.”
LOCOG did just that, they did their “home” work and the athletes, the organizers, the bystanders, the games makers, the press, the partners and everyone felt the inclusivity and spine tingling love transpire. LOCOG renewed the love for sport in the UK as the athletes did their thing; this one of their goals for both games. My thoughts are that staging the Olympic Games is pretty much a no brainer, all the systems are in place for success, people are familiar with the sports, the athletes and they want to see the Games, it’s easy-peasy when the people know and want you.
But staging a successful Paralympic Games, on all fronts, would be ground breaking and LOCOG tore it up. Never before had a Paralympic Games sold out every venue, (no tickets were given away) and beyond. I was sitting in yet another press conference when Lord Coe gave the news that 2.7 million tickets had been sold, around the room hands shot up like rockets. How can that be asked one reporter, the venues will only hold 2.5 million people? The extra 200,000 were park tickets that could be used to explore the Olympic Park, the Coca Cola Experience and the Mascot House or watch live events on big screens while picnicking on the grass. BTY the Olympics didn’t sell out.
Now, I want to share with you the 411 of how LOCOG pulled off this magic and made it real. I spent my time in London gathering back-story information for you, just as a good reporter would do. But I haven't reported to you what I found, I apologize, I'm a slow reader, it has taken me longer then imagined nevertheless it's time to share.
LOCOG created a Paralympic Games that people wanted, key word, wanted to experience. They took an economically depressed area of London, the East End where an industrial wasteland existed and transformed it into a thriving community with a legacy of hope, trust, tools and motivation for the future.
I want to share with you the Village, the Olympic Park venues that were once a dump or tip as they say in the UK, the Games Makers, the Channel 4 television coverage that began long before the Games did, the LOCOG Partners that shared the belief in the Paralympic Movement and took action toward full filling it.
Finally, I want to begin a conversation with you of how we can keep this romance alive. But first I want to talk about me in the next blog. Stay tuned for the spine tingling!
Blessings to All, In Joy Candace
© 2012 Candace Cable
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