At last . . the newly-rebuilt Olympic Stadium in Kyiv


— Spending time in Kyiv for the Euro 2012 finals draw recently was a fascinating experience. This was not the usual football, fly-in/match/fly-out trip but a chance to touch the capital of Ukraine where the tournament will reach a climax next summer. 

Journalists can be an irritable crowd sometimes. Particularly those facing deadlines which are no longer merely daily but – in this era of blogs, vlogs and Tweets – almost hourly.

Time cannot be wasted.

The ‘desk’ does not understand the interminable time spent sitting in Kyiv’s horrendous traffic jams, the tedious time spent in the security queue because one of the only two personal scanners has failed, the frustrating time standing awaiting delivery of an accreditation card, the breathless time in striding up six long flights of stairs to reach the media working room . . . then the last straw of the time and effort-busting wrong direction indicator heading out of the metro trying to get to the stadium in time for the set-piece press conference.

“There are small things which are not ready,” conceded UEFA president Michel Platini and Ukraine football strongman Grygoriy Surkis. They are just pleased and relieved that Ukraine will be able to maintain its status alongside co-hosting partner Poland.

The media will just have to get used to it. Ukraine, with its massive willingness and inherent weakness, represents the future of big-event hosting.

New host destinations

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee and UEFA and all the other ‘next-level’ major sports federations are taking their events to an increasing number of new hosts. They are being impelled, to some extent, by sponsors which want to probe new markets.

Commercial exploration means new hosts with no experience of big-event hosting and more and more of them will be challenged in terms of infrastructure: just like South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, like Brazil and Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics . . . and like Ukraine (and Poland to a lesser extent) for Euro 2012.

Media and sponsors need to accept that the Olympic Games in London next summer will be one of the last of the old-fashioned, ‘let’s-get-everything-right’ events. The future rests with ‘let’s-do-as-much-as-we-can’ hosts.

In any case, it is becoming more and more difficult to bring the World Cups and Olympics and Euros to the great cities of this planet. Local politicians and organisers are finding it increasingly difficult to adapt people-packed capitals to the complexity of big sports events with their specific demands on local facilities and structures.

Just think of the inbuilt contradiction of London’s streets with ‘Olympic lanes.’

In the meantime, when in Kyiv do as the Kyivians (?). Forget leaping into a taxi and going nowhere fast, jump on the metro. Cost: 20p per trip.

New markets and new hosts do have their advantages.

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