With the royal family in the stands, a sea of waving Union Flags, the mayor of London suspended from a zipwire and, yesterday, the first home gold medals—Great Britain has put its stamp on the XXX Olympiad. But make no mistake; there has been plenty of American influence too.
When cyclist Bradley Wiggins crossed the line to become Britain's most decorated Olympian with seven medals (four of them gold), you couldn't help but compare his statistics with those of Michael Phelps, who—after claiming his 19th Olympic medal on Tuesday—became the most garlanded athlete in the history of the modern games.
Of course, his sport lends itself like no other to competing in multiple events at each Games, and it should also be mentioned that history is likely to place others above him in the pantheon of sporting greats, but who was on hand to point this out on the BBC’s TV coverage? A pair of US commentators. Michael Johnson and John McEnroe are both considered among the most engaging and informed pundits on British TV, but, as in the Games themselves, American influence seems to be all-pervasive.
Another manifestation of this trend is the presence of NBC in London. Almost universally panned for its coverage so far, the network has brought a whopping 3,000 employees to cover the Games. That's 2,200 more than the BBC.
You have to wonder what they're all up to. Presumably there are a number of trips back and forth to the branches of Starbucks and Le Pain Quotidien that the network has reportedly had built especially for the occasion, but that can only take up so much of your day.
Some of the staff have evidently taken to Twitter to while away the time. After the first flushes of criticism were directed at NBC, the head of the London-based Independent newspaper’s LA bureau was suspended from the microblogging site (following some back and forth between Twitter and the network). The reason? He had publicised the “private email address” of NBC’s Olympic president Gary Zenkel.
In fact, the email address that Guy Adams included in his tweet about the time-delayed and heavily edited broadcast of the opening ceremony was one that was easily available to anyone with both internet access and the capacity for abstract thought. As a result of this, and a little public outrage, Adams’s Twitter account has now been reinstated. What’s more, in the last day or so, he has taken on a legion of new followers.
It all seems like a pretty futile exercise, not to mention another #NBCfail. Having been dispatched half way across the world to broadcast footage of athletes striving for efficiency and doing everything they can to shave fractions of seconds off their personal bests, you might have thought that the network would be keen to save time, rather than waste it.
At least Phelps, Johnson, McEnroe and co are doing the US proud.
Edwin Smith is a journalist and a gentleman pedant, and tweets @EdwinSmith.