When is an Olympic event not an Olympic event? That was the question dozens of confused spectators must have been asking themselves after the latest mix-up in what has been a troubled start to the early sports being played at the Games.
Many fans were turned away from watching the archery preliminaries taking place Friday at the historic Lord’s cricket ground in North West London. About 40 eager spectators showed up for the 9 am start, assured by the Olympic organizing committee’s website that said the event was “unticketed,” which some people took to mean that tickets weren’t necessary. Lord’s venue manager, Vanessa Bellamy, said, “This has always been a non-ticketed event, but it seems some people believed they could come down on the day. This was never the case, but we believe some illegal websites may have suggested this was the case.”
What’s more, reports have emerged that fans contacted the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and were told that they could attend when, in reality, the preliminaries weren’t open to the public. But according to a LOCOG spokeswoman, “Tickets have not been advertised or sold by LOCOG for the archery ranking event … We have always made it clear that the preliminary rounds are not open for spectators.”
Of course non-archery fans would never know that the preliminary seeding round is generally a closed event — at Lord’s it wasn’t even held in the main stadium, which holds about 4,500 spectators, but in the Nursery, where there is no grandstand or seating of any kind.
“Some were cross,” says Bellamy of the confusion. “Everyone was disappointed. And we are disappointed that they were disappointed.” Perhaps a clearer indication that the event wasn’t open for the public — such as “No spectators,” or “Closed to the public” could have avoided all the confusion. What fans missed was the first world record of the Games, with the South Koreans setting two landmarks. The top-ranked U.S. men’s team came in fourth in the ranking round, which determines the seed of each team and archer, and will ultimately decide the head-to-head elimination rounds.
For now, Bellamy choses to highlight the positive of the entire incident; “we are excited that there were people wanting to come and participate in the first events of the Games,” she says. That’s the British stiff upper lip. But if you were one of the frustrated fans, it seems that organizers missed the target.
with reporting by Alice Park