London Olympics - Half Way Mark

One week in.

 A week is a long time in politics and it feels even longer in the Olympic Games. Can it be a mere week ago that people were worried whether Danny Boyle and his assembled cast could pull off the opening ceremony? Was it only a week ago that transport gridlock was predicted?

The Olympics is a Games of two halves, but the first week was a success by pretty much any measure. Of course, there have been inevitable issues - positive doping tests, badminton players not trying -- but, the Games experience for athletes and spectators has been spectacular.

The Games has ignited the mood of the nation. Events have been fuller than ever before. The preliminary rounds at the Olympic Stadium are usually performed in front of a handful of people. Not in London.

Similarly, unheralded events - such as slalom canoeing - have attracted big crowds.

And the atmosphere at the events has been infectiously exciting. The money spent on in-venue entertainment to help create the atmosphere has proved very well spent.

At a practical level, I have been involved with eight Summer Games and can’t remember another running so smoothly - so far. With the Olympics, delivery is everything. The organisers have to get it right. The deadline cannot be moved. Remember that the Olympics is the biggest event in the world.

Organising it all is hugely complex. The only potential challenge now is complacency.

Security has been an unintended triumph. Three weeks ago the London Games faced its biggest pre-Games disaster: the revelation that G4S would not be able to fulfil its security contract. It was,  undoubtedly, a debacle for the company and a lot of questions still remain about how the contract was monitored and so on.

But, what is now clear is that the Games has been able to turn disaster spectacularly to its advantage. Visiting events this week I have been amazed by the security experience. With soldiers in charge  it is completely different. Used to high-pressure and dangerous situations, they radiate calm and relaxation. People respond in kind.

There is banter between the soldiers and spectators.

There is no doubt that recent years have seen a surge of support for the UK’s armed forces. But how many times do you actually meet a soldier? Using the military at the Games actually gives people a chance to show their respect and affinity to the soldiers. It is working and has completely changed the dynamics of security. Instead of feeling defensive, it feels confident.

Another plus for London is that it is the first Twitter Olympics.

Social networking is making a huge difference in how the media report on the event and how athletes and spectators experience it. Opinions and experiences are shared. The end result has been a fuller experience on all sides. The only negative was that the use of social media overwhelmed the data technology being used at the cycling road race.

Looking further afield, the international media has been highly  positive about the Games so far. TV audiences, in an era where TV  numbers are falling, remain enormous which is good news for  advertisers and the future of the Games.

So, a great first week, but a long way to go.

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