So at last it’s nearly here. Our great nation is to host the grandest sporting event on the globe for the first time since 1948. On Friday the 27th July 2012, the spotlight of the world’s eyes will focus on our capital city, as we play host to 205 nations from every corner of the planet.
The government has so far ploughed nearly £9.3bn of public funds into the project and estimates are now arriving at a steady £11bn by the time the Games are fully off the ground come the summer. That is, to put it lightly, an awful lot of taxpayers money. Providing that London 2012 is a huge success and deemed the greatest show that the Earth has ever seen (which it no doubt will be), then perhaps that isn’t too much of a price to pay, is it?
But if you don’t happen to live in London and weren’t lucky enough to pay £200 to watch the Archery final through the government’s questionable balloting system, then can we really be expected to catch ‘Olympic fever’ like everybody else?
99% of people will probably find themselves watching the opening ceremony and most other occurrences of significance during London 2012 via the medium of television from the comfort of their own armchairs; not exactly inspiring you might argue. In fact, there is a real danger that the Olympics may simply pass many of us by without leaving even the faintest scar in our memories. This is quite a sad prospect and I believe that people deserve the opportunity to maximise the potential enjoyment they can gain from the proceedings and celebrations this summer. So how else can people get involved and truly feel a part of London 2012?
Although none of the actual sporting competitions will be taking place in Leeds itself, there should still be plenty of events happening in and around the city. Here’s a quick Olympic guide on how to make the most of the summer spectacular in Leeds.
Besides, you’re paying for it (well sort of anyway).
Olympic Torch Relay- 24th June
On Sunday the 24th June, the iconic Olympic torch will arrive in Leeds before continuing its journey on to Sheffield. At around six o’ clock in the evening the torch will be travelling past Headingley Carnegie Stadium, later to arrive at Temple Newsam which will facilitate a special one-off evening celebration, including performances by Friendly Fires and Little Comets. Attendance is free of charge and you can apply for tickets on the Olympics website (with 50,000 available it’s well worth a shot).
No stranger to housing large events, Millennium Square’s big screen will be showing the Olympics and Paralympics in its entirety, with plenty of additional fun and sporty activities planned during busy periods. The 21st May will also see showings of a range of films celebrating 100 days until the commencement of the paralympic games.
Team China has decided to make base camp in the city of Leeds this summer. The Chinese will be staying in the halls of residence on Leeds University campus and using facilities provided by both Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University leading up to the games; excellent news for both the city and it’s academic institutions I’m sure you’ll agree. China topped the medals table when it hosted the games in Beijing four years ago and should be competing at the top again this time around. So if you’re about over the summer, be sure to welcome our Asian cousins and make them feel at home.
Other visiting teams to Leeds include the Australian and Russian diving team, the Netherlands swim team and the Canadian wheelchair rugby squad.
If you have a bit of spare time over the summer and fancy getting super involved in the Olympics, volunteers are required to assist in the running of some major events in Leeds and to provide hospitality for some of the visiting International teams. Details can be found on this website: http://www.leedsinitiative.org/olympics/.
For those who are mega keen, there is also an opportunity to become a ‘local leader’ during this summer’s festivities. Such a role requires the organisation of local community events in cooperation with Games organisers. Again, more information can be found on this webpage: http://www.london2012.com/get-involved/local-leaders/.
Aside from this the BBC will be providing full coverage of the Games and if you’d prefer, you could quite easily soak up the buzz created by this colossal event from home.
Even better, some of the events are free to attend (including most running, cycling and triathlon races), so a weekend trip down to London may well be worth a consideration (if you have plenty of dosh spare for the pricey accommodation bill).
Discussions surrounding the justification for the money spent on this summer’s Games are always controversial, especially in the midst of a ‘global economic crisis’. Whether or not the legacy of London 2012 will continue into the future, help to stimulate the UK economy, boost an interest in sport and physical activity in our increasingly obese society and do everything that ambassadors for the event proclaim it will, is something that only time will tell.
However one thing is for sure, whether you’re sporty, patriotic, both or neither, London 2012 will be a fantastic show and offers a brilliant opportunity for our nation. Be sure to be a part of it in some way.