6 August 2012
From The newsdesk blog
The star of the Olympic Park is undoubtedly the landscaping. The velodrome pushes it close but the plants and the trees are drawing more admiration.
The main stadium is a lot better – a lot more like an Olympic stadium – close up but, alas, the aquatics centre is rather ruined by the extra seating bolted on.
But the biggest clanger dropped is the absence of an Olympic flame. It’s there, of course, but inside the main stadium. If you’re not inside you can’t see zip.
News that the flame wouldn’t be on show only started to dribble out once it had made its starring role in the opening ceremony. Secrecy about who would light it proved to be rather handy because no one bothered to find out where the cauldron would be. Everybody just assumed visitors – and those passing by on trains and buses – would be able to see it.
Its final position in the new stadium is supposed to mimic where it was inside the old Wembley stadium back in 1948 – when London last hosted the Olympics.
Frankly, who cares? For a lot of people, the great big totem pole that the Olympics have arrived is the flame. Yes, there are some Olympic rings in front of the aquatics centre but anyone can knock those up. The flame is the confirmation for many that the games are here and in London.
The cauldron’s designer Thomas Heatherwick says millions of people have seen the flame already so what’s the big fuss.
It might only be a flame but in creating such a stunning piece of art lots of people now want to see it in the flesh, have their picture taken with it. That’s what people do with something like this.
Visitors to the park don’t care, as Heatherwick stated, that the flame is in the heart of a temple called the Olympic Stadium. They want to see it, not be told it’s coming home to some sort of temple.
The park’s great, the flags are all out, the venues are full, there’s people from all over the world, the weather is playing ball, the volunteers are cheery and helpful and even the Olympic naysayers are being forced to admit that it’s all rather good.
And the flame’s, well, flaming brilliant. It would just be nice to see it.