The Olympics and Great Britain’s magic wand

Take just an English and you have a dull person, take two English and you get two dull people, take three English and you get a great nation. That in part is the story of the successful Olympic Games we are currently witnessing in London. This success, it must be said, is not a fruit of miracle or anything unforeseeable or unpredictable. The organisers worked hard and in details by planning and projecting ahead, they took into account possible problems and found solutions to them. Along the road whilst executing, there were real difficulties and imagined fears of failure, these were quickly acknowledged and promptly dealt with.

The tasks and objectives in hand in every step, were quite clear and easy for all to understand, no mystifications, suspense or surprises. A lot can be learnt from that process. First they had to convince the people in Britain that hosting the game was good for the country and then convince the international community that they were the best to hold the games. After winning the bid, the next objectives were to hold a great game and win as much as possible.

The organizers started their journey by creating the bid’s master plan, which detailed where events would be held, what infrastructure would be built, and provided an overall budget projection for the games, showing at every step why and how. The execution was done under close scrutiny of the press and the public at large.

Towards the beginning of the games, there were concerns about traffic, worries about having an overcrowded city. Security was also an issue and that manifested itself clearly with the long annoying queues travellers had to face at the airports some weeks ago. People complained, the press screamed and the Parliament intervened. No politician, public official or airport manager asked people to bear with them or live with the inconvenience; they simply rolled up their sleeves and found solutions to these problems. By the time the games started, those airports queues were gone and getting into London was even faster than before the games.

During the first events of the games, TV viewers noticed that there were vacant seats in the arenas whilst people could not get tickets because they were told all tickets had been sold out. A few comments and complaints on twitter, email, Facebook and blogs and the press took it up straight away and confronted the organizers and other public officials with such discontent. They all took these complaints seriously, identified the reasons for the lapses and immediately put in place measures to free up tickets for those willing to go to the games. Yes, that is the same social media that some in Nigeria will like to censure.

Those in charge of the London 2012 are neither foolish nor naive, they knew to win as much possible matters a lot and their team knew very well that to win you need people that can compete and facilities for them to train in. All these require expertise, time and money. They started raising funds from both the private and public sectors. Years before the games started, they went around the country encouraging young people to know more about sporting activities and inviting them to participate, these organizers used every method possible to identify and recruit people from schools and parks, playground and even shopping centres. The recruitment effort did not leave out those that were not capable of competing in any games or sports. A lot of emphasis was placed on volunteers and helpers of all shades and kinds; it was clear to even a simple mind that the organizers wanted this to be a game for all those that live in Britain. The result is a great safe game with a lot of victory and pride for the people of Great Britain who are happily waving their flags and cheering their boys and girls on to victory or in some cases sustaining them in times of defeat.

The Britain of today is neither a country that dwells on the rhetoric of patriotism nor does it deceive itself about being humble. It is a country that realistically assesses its real strength and potentials, takes note of its weakness and what they lack; it understands its interests and carefully uses what it has to get what it needs. In Britain, those that really matter make no bones about importing expertise and material resources they do not have from elsewhere. The Britain of today has no big lucky or charismatic lone hero, it is merely a country where everybody does his/her little bit and together they achieve great things. Teachers teach, cleaners clean, coaches coach, the press reports, the police protects, auditors audit and hospitals treat the sick.

Like the organizers of this so far successful Olympic Games, everyone in charge of the country knows that the only path to success is by planning, sweating and being accountable. We set the rules and we all obey it. This is not rocket science and you do not need talent to be law abiding. Others too can learn from that.

Written by
Anthony A. Kila
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