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a sense of doom. Transport for London has even announced that Canary Wharf station will only be able to cope with 40% of the area’s usual commuting workers who have been urged to stay out of the City altogether by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

Many central roads within the city will be inaccessible too, which could cause problems for bus tours and other regular attractions, as well as for commuters. After national outrage over the ‘Zil lanes’ on our major

thoroughfares, created for the exclusive use of Olympics VIPs to zip from their Park Lane hotels to the Games without getting caught up in the traffic that ordinary people will have to endure, common sense is beginning to take a hold. Transport for London have announced that motorists will be allowed to use the lanes after all when the VIPs don’t need them; electronic message boards along the Olympic lanes will let commuters know when the lanes are free to use.

Failing to study these plans and understand their impact is going to cause major headaches for businesses making deliveries to and receiving deliveries from London and the surrounding areas and supply chains risk being thrown into chaos. A survey by BT Business found that out of 600 UK

organisations surveyed, a staggering 93% were anticipating negative effects including disruption of the supply chain and higher costs for services and goods. Customers may have to wait longer than expected for deliveries, which could be detrimental to a supplier’s brand, unless they go to the extra expense of using express delivery services, which simply pushes up prices.


There is a possibility, albeit a faint one, that everything will run relatively smoothly because there will be sufficient self-adjustment by business and consumers to the extraordinary strains the Olympics will place on our lives. But there is no getting around the discontent businesses of all sizes – even banks – feel towards the extremely dirigiste conditions that LOCOG have had to agree to in order to keep sponsors happy. Sponsors’ scouts will be out and about across the city to ensure that only the right food/drink/clothing/credit cards are being associated with the Olympic brand, and the closer to the Olympic Park one gets, the more attentive their scrutiny will be.

Oh, and if you are going to the Games, stock up on cash before you go. Visa, as

a main sponsor of the Games, have ordered 27 cash machines that were going to be available at main Olympics sites to be ripped out. Instead just eight Visa ATMs will be in use. Anyone with MasterCard credit or debit cards will be unable to withdraw cash at all. Ron Delnevo , the managing director of Bank Machine, the world’s largest operator of ATMs, said this decision makes the Olympics ‘cash-starved by design,’ and added, ‘The vast majority of people attending the Games, from over 200 countries, have no interest in becoming guinea pigs in product launches by sponsors,’ he said. ‘They are gathering to celebrate sporting excellence and should be allowed to do so, unhindered by the commercial manoeuvring of sponsors.’

There is the unshakeable sense that far from spinning off benefits to all, the Olympics are a sealed fortress within a city, where rules other than those of their own making don’t apply and where only those who have paid off the gatekeepers are allowed in. The Games could have presented opportunities for many UK businesses to shine, but few were actually allowed to tender for the extra business that has been coming to town during the years of planning.


The BT Business survey also revealed that increased staff absences were one of the highest concerns for UK organisations. Accommodating those who want to go on holiday in late July, those who are likely to find exotic excuses for not showing up for work and those who genuinely want to work but will be hit by travel delays, puts a strain on any business. Again, we are being forced into a giant experiment with no clue as to the outcome. Will giving staff the opportunity for flexible working, altering working hours or working from home end up increasing productivity or simply cause mayhem?

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