The Olympics got off to a ...erm ... start today as the woeful incompetence of the organisers showed that what they said they could do in theory was a little less spectacular when it was put into practice.
First a bus carrying Australian and American athletes from Heathrow took four hours to get to London, because the driver got lost, and could use his sat nav. The they discovered that noone had added the Olympic village to the sat nav. Kerron Clement (US Gold Medal Hurdler), not surprisingly, tweeted: 'Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4 hrs. Not a good first impression London.'
Then they started charging people today to use the M4 and chaos ensued as drivers weren't sure whether the new VIP lanes were or were not in operation. Playing it safe (as the fines for straying into a lane above your station is £130 a time) cars tried to filter into the other lanes, and at one point the traffic jams were over 30 miles long.
At other places in London there was chaos because drivers were avoiding roads which were not restricted until next week, as apparently the signposting was not clear.
Then there was anger from an Australian married couple, Lauryn and Russell Mark, who have been told that they may not share a room in the Olympic village while they are competing as male and female accommodation is separate. This means that same sex couples may share facilities but heterosexuals cannot...unless they wish to book an hotel room (at god knows what profiteering price). They say that they have shared accommodation all over the world, but it appears that matron checks to make sure that there isn't any naughtiness in London. In a further blow to Australia, the Heathrow staff managed to lose the sailing team's sails... less than handy!
Bad news too for fans of Beach volleyball (why is that an Olympic sport). Girls who normally play the game in bikinis have been given special permission to wear shorts and t shirts because of the cold miserable weather. I'm guessing that many middle aged men with tickets for that event won't now bother turning up.
And of course, it wouldn't be an Olympic story without good old G4S making an appearance. Police and royal marines have been called in to take over from the company as large numbers of their new staff failed to show for work today. Probably doubtful of ever getting paid; possibly not informed of their start dates; who knows the reasons for the mess, but nine police forces have had to supply security for venues and marines are taking over at the centres in Weymouth and Portsmouth because fewer than 40% of Group Four staff turned up for duty.
In Manchester only 17 of the required 56 security guards turned up to guard the athletes' hotel.
And to cap it all, whilst heads may well roll at G4S, it's the kind of punishment for incompetence that I'd favour should I ever manage ever to be so cack-handed... It has been suggested that the chief executive, Nick Buckles, may leave with a golden goodbye of around £21 million. Not bad for making a fool of London, disrupting the armed forces and losing around £50 million for his company on the contract.
Some preliminary football matches from groups D and G are to be played in Glasgow, but demand for tickets has been so low that tens of thousands have had to be given away to children so that the stadium doesn't look empty.
I would hope that the ministers responsible for this mess lose their jobs in the re-shuffle, but frankly I doubt they will.