By Philip Barker
London’s oldest Olympic sportsground will see some of the first in action in 2012, as the archers begin competition at Lord’s hours before the Opening Ceremony.
A change of direction by London Olympic organisers means that archers will shoot their arrows towards the media centre. The targets will be positioned between the Compton and Edrich Stands at the Nursery End. Temporary stands will be built either side to accommodate some 5,000 spectators and special hides will conceal television cameras and still photographers.
It is a departure from the first competitive archery seen at Lord’s three years ago. For the MCC Cup, India, China and Great Britain shot across the pavilion towards the Warner Stand. It was originally planned to build a temporary spectator stand facing the pavilion, but this created problems.
“You’d have had this fantastic media centre that couldn’t really be used because you had a stand in the way,” said Debbie Jevans, the London 2012 sports director.
“The big advantage of relocating the field of play is that the media centre will be much closer,” Jevons explained the move. “It was a combination of things, we worked with the international federation and with the MCC and realised that by turning it and ensuring that we got the schedule right so there was no issue with the sun in athletes’ eyes, we could have a much better overlay that allowed us to use the media centre and also create this intimate atmosphere with spectators in the stands.”
The media centre, built ahead of the 1999 World Cup, will therefore be used as the main venue press centre. Organisers say there will be additional press seating available on the top tier of the Pavilion, where the MCC members would normally sit.
There are certain to be some unfamiliar accents in the Pavilion in 2012. “I’ve no idea yet just how many will come but clearly there will be a lot of Korean journalists and others from Asian countries,” said Jevans.
If the Olympic competitions in Beijing are anything to go by, Korean supporters are certain to create an atmosphere and the head to head format with a lively public address commentary heightens the atmosphere. The super slo-mo television cameras are made for archery, and the head-on shot, developed for darts, is certain to be used.
During the Games, London 2012 will take over the ground, which will be subject to the airport-style security machines now familiar at all Olympic events.
MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw insisted that holding the Olympics at Lord’s will not disrupt the cricket programme. “There is no impact for us, we’ve been working closely with the ECB and the South Africa Test match will follow after the Games,” he said.
West Indies are also touring and with county cricket and other matches crammed in, Olympic organisers will have only a fortnight to set up before the archers arrive to begin using the training venue at the Nursery End.
The classification rounds take place at the Nursery Ground on July 27.
During the press launch last week, usual MCC rules on ties and jackets in the Pavilion were relaxed, to the relief of some. Word is, it will be the same during Olympic fortnight. Just what would EW Swanton have thought of it all?
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