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Riding the Wave!

By: LSP Member Keith Davenport
London, August 13, 2012

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Opening Fireworks

People believe in all kinds of things. Some people believe in Santa Claus or Papá Noel, who represents the spirit and energy of a season. Some people believe in their chosen faith to give them strength to get through a day and others believe in a simple phrase like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well one of my beliefs is the power of the Olympics, the power of what it stands for and what it represents. How for a brief moment of time, exactly 17 days, the world can celebrate sport, healthy competition, and the overall true spirit of sport in an Athlete. The Olympics stand alone as the only single event that is intended to bring together the world in a non-political arena to showcase the best of the best. Over 13,000 athletes came together to represent over 200 nations. All that said, London 2012 has been a remarkable Olympic Games to experience as a Live Show Event Producer and Operator who has worked on the last 5 Olympics. But this time, I was only involved as a spectator and observer.

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Stadium Seating

I’ve spent the last 23 days experiencing London and the Olympic Games as a spectator first hand seeing the ramp up to ceremonies, concerts, competitions, national house installations, corporate experience installations, and citywide operations. Ninety-Five percent of these have been absolutely remarkable. London has taken it’s experience of hosting two previous Olympic Games, 1908 and 1948, to truly perfect how it has handled the Olympics for the third time around. Their goal was to represent the fun, youthful and quirky side of Great Britain to the world and most would agree they did that extremely well.

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Digital Gateway LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Themed Wheelchairs
 

As anyone who makes a living doing large-scale events would, I notice everything when going to events. I notice queue lines, ticket booths, restrooms, traffic flow, way finding (signage), look (branding), seating banks, how the staff have been trained and their knowledge base for the event or sponsor, security or lack of. Then I get to the event and I observe the show, presentation or competition where I notice the design, the way it sounds, how sight lines are to the presentation and the overall installation design. I always ask myself, “What was their intended goal?” in hopes of being able to find the answer on my own.

London has received great praise for all of the areas mentioned above and I believe they have been clear with their goals. Above all else they wanted a secure and safe games, they wanted to portray a clean city with hospitable people to all of the visitors and wanted to have a good time. I have experienced far more outstanding successes at London2012 like no lines, at all, overly cleaned and secured venues, and beautifully branded and clear signage plans. Not only was this at the Olympic Venues but also throughout the entire city’s enhanced way finding package that was beautifully designed and integrated into the infrastructure. They have built iconic venues, like Olympic Stadium, in older run down areas of the city that will truly stand as legacies for the city. They have also built venues that were temporary installations, like Horse Guards Parade where beach volleyball was played, that will set the new higher standard for temporary venues being built for the Olympic Games.

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Stadium SeatingThe transportation infrastructure for London also seemed to run seamless with staff and volunteers representing the Organizing Committee, the London Underground and the City of London at almost every hub or city transfer location in their different colored bibs for easy recognition. I have never experienced games with such ease of mobility as London 2012; and again, they have raised the bar for those that follow.

The areas of opportunity that London can learn from really have nothing to do with the operation of the Olympic games from my point of view. This has been done superbly. It’s more about the energy created around the city during the games. London residents have voiced opinions that the city has done too good of a job clearing the city out for the games. Basically, the locals have headed the warnings and are working from home in the suburbs or have taken holidays. But many would say they have taken it too seriously. Many businesses revenues are down in certain areas after many expected them to be up. After experiencing the many of the past Olympic and Winter Olympic Games first hand, I think this will always be a challenge to balance 100% correctly. But finding the perfect capacity to create that electric energy that a city feels, while not being overpopulated at the same time, is possible. It has been done beautifully with past games-time host cities Vancouver (2010) and Sydney (2000). Another thing to consider is Brits are also a bit more reserved in their passion at times; so expecting the same energy and excitement that you may see at a Brazil vs Mexico final may never be the same as if it were being played in Sao Paolo or Mexico City.

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Colors of the World

Last night London2012 closed the books on their Olympic chapter for now with what I experienced as an amazing Closing Ceremony and makes way for the London2012 Paralympic Games just days away. For me, I don’t know that this was my “Once in a Lifetime Opportunity,” but it was a unique opportunity that I have to remind myself that I’ve been privileged to be in the middle of so many times and look forward to again. This time I was just viewing it from a different perspective. From the very first piece of fake grass that was pulled up during the London Opening Ceremony to the final fireworks of the Closing Ceremony I feel confident that London, Great Britain and the rest of the world will look back on these games as successful and know that they did great. I will move forward with my future games and events with key learning that I take away knowing how it can be done better, smarter or more efficiently at times while still serving the need of the overall goal; to host a safe, secure, and fun event for all involved. Until then, see you at Rio 2016.

LSP Member Spotlight Olympics: Closing Finale

Keith Davenport is an Executive Producer and Operations Director of Live Events and Productions with over 20 years international experience working on large-scale productions. Credits include Salt Lake 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Rio 2007 Pan American Games Ceremonies, Rio 2010 Copacabana Beach NYE Celebration, Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games LiveCity Vancouver and the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade to name a few. Keith is currently the Director of Ceremonies Operations for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games happening in Sochi, Russia.

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