(photo credit: Raffi Deloya)
LONDON – When the Summer Olympics were last held in London in 1948, a
post-war impoverished Europe came together in the British capital after
having had two scheduled games canceled by war. Due to the economic
climate and the post-war rationing these games were dubbed the
“Austerity games.” Yet despite the ravaging effects of almost a decade
of conflict, 59 nations turned up to be represented. The opening
ceremony involved 85,000 spectators crammed into Wembley Stadium with
army bands, a royal address and 2,500 pigeons.
This year, things
have come a long way as the games return to London. In Beijing in 2008,
the world marveled at the sheer scale of the production, the number of
choreographed participants and the grand scale of the fireworks display.
The British have taken up the challenge and engaged one of their
greatest film directors as the visionary for the opening pageant, Danny
The stadium will be transformed into a vision of “a green
and pleasant land,” which is a very symbolic lyric taken from, what is
considered Britain’s most resonant hymn, “Jerusalem,” by poet William
Blake. To bring this vision to life, 10,000 volunteers have been working
on the show, which will be on a set that will feature meadows, fields
and rivers, farmers working the land, families having picnics, and
sports being played on the village green. This rural idyll will feature
real farmyard animals grazing in this “countryside.”
may have been the image people would have instantly expected of Britain
back in 1948, Boyle has sought to bring this sense of rural British
identity to the 21stcentury global stage.
one billion people worldwide expected to watch the opening ceremony,
not only will all eyes be on the participants, but all ears will also be
on the broadcasters to deliver and represent the games to the people.
an interview with Dave Gordon, head of Olympics for BBC Sport, he talks
about how they had been involved in the planning and delivery of the
games as the host country’s domestic broadcaster.
How long has the broadcasting been in the planning?
started working on the idea of a London Olympics at the end of 2003. At
the time there was the idea to bid for the games, and the planners came
to the BBC for some advice. So when the envelope was opened and the
news was announced, that got us thinking about the ideas we might bring
to London.With so many different
events and athletes, what are the main challenges to providing the same
level of excellence in delivery as the participants do in their
The host broadcaster is OBS (Olympic
Broadcasting Services), which is part of the IOC. They provide the core
coverage of all the sport, while our job is to provide coverage that
befits a British audience. The technology now enables us to actually
deliver every sport to our audience via the online environment and
through the on-demand interactive broadcasting. The audience can watch
what they want, when they want.As head of Olympics, BBC Sport, what is the most satisfying aspect of the job?
will only be satisfied if the public perception is that the BBC did the
British public and the Olympics proud. There is no sense of
self-satisfaction. We are just going to do our damnedest to do the best
job we can to serve all our audiences.What do sports mean to you?
a great believer in the emotion of sports, and that’s what will
resonate with our audience. It’s the great stories of people who have
triumphed over adversity and about remarkable human beings, and I think
that’s what we will celebrate and that’s what I feel our audiences will
want to celebrate, too.What do feel is different about your coverage than that of the Beijing Olympics?
think it’s the breadth of the offer. We are offering every session of
every sport, every day. If you want to watch six hockey matches a day,
then you can watch just that. Our strapline for the games is “Never miss
a moment.”And due to the technology on offer, this is the first Olympic
Games that we’ve been actually able to say that.What’s your next project after the Olympics?
This is my 10th summer Olympics, and I’m actually leaving the BBC after 40 years at the end of the year.
I think the time is right. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m open to offers.The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London will begin on Friday, July 27.Channel 1 will broadcast the opening ceremony live at 11 p.m. The closing ceremony will be broadcated on August 12 at 11 p.m.