The Vibe from Abroad: The UK is not too popular right now

I am not talking about in South Africa, but in Canada, where the 2010 Winter Olympics is taking place.

I don’t even think it’s a case of sour grapes. Britain’s medal hopes for the winter games are never going to be that high; we have the wrong kind of snow to train in.

These games did not have an auspicious start; the tragic death of an athlete and the warmest January ever recorded have resulted in more press comment then, perhaps, is usual.

What will be familiar to you is that some British newspapers have really got stuck in and the anger and frustration from the Vancouver organising committee is evident. Until a few years ago, this perhaps would not have been played out in such a bright spotlight, but today, with many people having access to 24-hour news, and with even more ability to circulate and comment on stories – why, it’s a bonanza!

It means that the mainstream media, and, more importantly, the event organisers, no longer own the message. In the past, mainstream broadcasters and press reported the stories from the official press conferences or as part of the sports events themselves. Now, anyone can take their mobile phone and report on what they see and hear to their own networks, official or otherwise.

This was starkly illustrated during the 2008 Olympic torch relay, which was met with protests in some countries. In one particular instance, the torch landed in a harbour and because of the protestors en route, was diverted into a warehouse and lost from view. The cameras in the helicopters circling overhead had nothing to report, until, as if by magic, the torch turned up some distance away. What the TV viewers were not aware of was that the new route had been filmed by a team of informal reporters, armed with mobile phones, positioned throughout that city, and able to send their information back to various unofficial websites. There was no interruption to the media flow, just to the channels usually used. The accredited media were suddenly impotent.

This, I believe, was a defining moment in how events and news now reaches the consumer. This information revolution has only begun, but you can be certain it will be developed further during the FIFA World Cup™.

Just think of the fun you can have when we host the 2012 Olympic Games. Start sharpening your pencils!

mary@tourismleisure.com

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