Beijing perspective: Leo Mason

Photographer and SJA committee member LEO MASON, whose pictures adorn this site, has shot at eight Olympic Games including Beijing. Here’s his perspective on the Games through a photographer’s lens

Review Beijing
Beijing is up there with Barcelona and Sydney as the best ever. The organisation was superb for photographers and where ever we went there were many volunteers (all of whom were very helpful and spoke English).

The buses ran on time and it was much appreciated to have a volunteer explain which one to take for which venue.

The single biggest innovation was the “one-stop scanning” in the hotel/media village. This was a great time and stress saver. Once in the “MPC bubble”, you just turned up at the venue. Someone needs to take a bow for thinking this one up.

Ticketing for the priority events was at a minimum. Swimming, opening and closing being the only three. It was frustrating however to see some empty photo designated seats at the swimming finals.

As I was FOC for the SJA accredited photographers, it was good to see the nationals and agency/freelancers cooperating with the system that I put in place for a fair distribution of tickets. This augurs well for 2012.

That is, until the last day when the Chop Suey hit the fan after security locked the stadium down early and I still had tickets to
dish out to missing members of the group…

IOC’s photo chief Gary Kamper was very helpful and always prepared to give us an extra ticket or bib when I or Barry asked for it. He was particularly accommodating with the closing ceremony.

Preview London
I spent time talking to Gary Kamper, some of the venue chiefs and many of my photographic colleagues from around the world.
The overriding impression I got was of the sheer complexity and logisitics of running the Olympic photographic organisation (not to mention the politics of keeping everyone happy).

In all, 1,600 photographers were accredited for Beijing and this figure is likely to be fully tested for London.

In due course I will be writing a comprehensive report with Barry for the SJA and BOA.

Beijing stars
Lightning Bolt.

But there were others, such as the photographer who fell into the pool while running backwards during a Phelps Photo Op.

And the volunteers. As I came out of the MPC at 4am one night, the small army of volunteers all watering and pruning the shrubs in the bus parking lot. That will be a hard act to follow in London!

More Beijing perspectives
Click to read the views of leading journalists

Richard Williams

James Lawton

John Goodbody

Matthew Engel

Andrew Gilligan

John Cross

Patrick Collins

Seb Coe

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