The Japanese women’s football team

I love this. Here is a (not very good, because made by me) video of the Japanese women’s football team bowing to the crowd after losing the Olympic final 2-1 to the USA. When they came back out for the medals ceremony, the USA and Canada (third-placed) teams waved cheerfully around, but the Japanese women held hands and did mini-Mexican waves. They were my favourites.

More photos of the game here.

Sofa so good

I have been trying not to write about the Olympics, because I haven’t got anything to say that someone else hasn’t already said better, and because I am too busy watching to think about writing anything anyway. But having spent the last two evenings at live events (table tennis on Tuesday, football on Wednesday), I have realised that – whisper it – the Olympics are kind of better on TV. Of course, being there is super-exciting, and you get to be a part of the crowd and talk to people you’d never have talked to otherwise, and if you’re lucky get within sniffing distance of a superhuman. But you also get to spend a lot of time standing around, or queueing, or spending a lot of money on not-very-nice food, and I realised as I stood penned-in by police horses outside Wembley Stadium last night that I could have been spending all that time watching the fricking Olympics. It’s bad enough that I have to go to stupid work and be in stupid meetings while people are winning medals, but it’s worse when I’ve paid £80 to stand in a queue and miss out on it all.

So I have come to the conclusion that the best way to enjoy the games is by mostly watching them on TV, and just sticking your nose briefly into the action itself. After all, a single ticket to most of the sessions costs just about what the license fee does for a whole year, and with literally every event available via the BBC you will get more sport for your sterling by sitting at home, where the food is cheaper and the toilet queues much shorter, than by buying expensive seats which allow you to sit quite a long way away from everything that’s actually happening.

This is all good news. The Olympics are designed to be watched in person by tens of thousands of people, and on TV by actual billions. In this case, you lose nothing by being one of the ninety nine per cent. So use your Mastercard to buy a Pepsi, settle down in front of your Sony TV and enjoy the freedom and the luxury of watching from the best seat in the house.

Man interviewing fan in comedy glasses
Half-time entertainment at the table tennis. It doesn’t have to be this way.

(All of which said, please note that I will happily accept gifts of free tickets to anything you like.)

 

Olympic rage

I have spent seven years defending the London Olympics to everyone who thinks they are a terrible waste of money and effort. “The Olympics”, I have said more than once, “are the only time when the nations of the world come together in an activity which isn’t a war. They represent the best of human society and endeavour, and we should celebrate them”.

I still think that, but Londoners have been exposed to an increasing amount of games-related publicity in the last few weeks, and I think I’ve finally snapped. It’s not the solemn entreaties to walk or cycle instead of taking public transport this summer (although unless you’re going to refund some of my £160 monthly travel costs, Boris, you can fuck right off with that suggestion); nor is it the utter mess they made of ticketing (although I’m separately angry about that). No: the reason my stomach clenches every time I see one of the posters is the unutterably hideous font they’re using to promote the event.

Look at it:

London Olympics text

It looks exactly like the kind of design I used to come up with, freehand, when as a teenager I briefly thought that I might like to be a graphic designer. It was the fact that my fonts looked like this that made me realise I wasn’t good enough. It’s ugly, it’s difficult to read, and most of all it looks half-finished, like a placeholder that’s being used as a joke to remind the designer to replace it with a proper font before he sends the proofs over.

But it’s not a joke, or a placeholder: it’s the font that somebody, somewhere – possibly, even, a committee – has decided should be used to showcase British design talent on the biggest, brightest stage of them all. I feel ashamed every time I look at it, and you know what? I could absolutely have done a better job.

(Also terrible: the logo, which I have ranted about elsewhere, and the mascots, which are so bizarrely awful that I almost can’t bring myself to mention them at all, but just for comparison, here is Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Misha, for the avoidance of doubt, is a bear:

Misha the Olympic bear

…and here are Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots of the 2012 London Olympics:

wenlock and mandeville

Wenlock and Mandeville are, uh, they’re…aliens? In…cycle helmets? Cute! I want one!

Still, at least they aren’t named after a small-town law firm. Oh.)

Olympic countdown

I walked past the Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square this morning:

Olympics countdown clock

It went up last night and it will count down the 500 days until the London Olympics begin next August. I walk across Trafalgar Square every weekday, so I’ll be able to keep a close eye on it and make sure nobody’s cheating.

Tickets for the various Olympic events also went on sale today. The process for buying them seems complicated, excluding and unfair, but I’m still going to try to get hold of some, which I suppose is what they’re counting on. If you have a monopoly on a hugely popular commodity, you can pretty much do what you like with it.

It’s disappointing that the ticket sales mechanism is so badly-designed, but not as disappointing as the design of that logo. Have another look at it:

London 2012 logo

I mean, what? It doesn’t even look like anything. It certainly doesn’t look like the numbers “2012”, unless you squint really hard. When it was first unveiled four years ago we were assured that we’d get used to it. Tessa Jowell, my MP and at that time the Olympics Minister, said:

“This is an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about – an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country.

“It takes our values to the world beyond our shores, acting both as an invitation and an inspiration.

“This is not just a marketing logo, but a symbol that will become familiar, instantly recognisable and associated with our Games in so many ways during the next five years.”

That’s clearly all bollocks, but what is especially bollocks is the part about it being “iconic”. When you use the word “iconic” to describe something that looks like this:

London 2012 logo

You pretty much defile its use to describe things that look like this:

Union flag

Or like this:

Penguin Classics covers

Or like this:

London Underground map

Still, at least the London 2012 website doesn’t look like this any more:

London2012.com 2007 design

I suppose that’s something.