Rachel Blount writes about a wide variety of sports subjects, including Olympic sports, women's sports and social issues that intersect with the games we watch and play. She has been at the Star Tribune for 20 years, covering everything from hockey to horse racing to seven Olympic Games. An Iowa native, she holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Missouri and is married to fellow sportswriter Pat Borzi.

Waiting for the opening ceremony ...

Posted by: Rachel Blount Updated: July 27, 2012 - 1:14 PM

It's a gorgeous night here in London, overcast but refreshingly cool. Looking forward to hearing Paul McCartney and seeing what the director Danny Boyle has in store.

The middle of the stadium has been transformed into a meadow, complete with trees, split-rail fences and stone cottages. Best, though, not to look up. Then you're subjected to the modern monstrosity called the ArcelorMittal Orbit. It's an observation tower that looks like Paul Bunyan ripped up a roller-coaster track, wadded it up like a used tissue and threw it on top of a pole. Now, I like modern art; I might even go see some of those Damien Hirst formaldehyde-preserved animal things at the Tate Modern when the Olympics finish. But this is just ugly. Worse, it's permanent, and worse yet, it's named for a corporation. Lots of the structures in Olympic Park are temporary, as part of the London Games' desire to be sustainable. Too bad this isn't one.

Speaking of corporations, the sponsor pavilions just keep getting bigger and more elaborate at every Olympics. Several of them are stationed around the park, or around town. Yesterday, several large golf-car loads of people in expensive suits wearing expensive sunglasses and drinking expensive coffees were tooling around the Park for private sightseeing. I understand the Olympics are ridiculously costly to mount and need sponsorship funding, but the level of bowing and scraping to the sponsors feels out of synch with the Olympic spirit of inclusion and democracy. This has not been lost on the Brits, who have bristled at how militant the International Olympic Committee has been in regard to "protecting'' sponsors. It certainly must be good business for the barristers.

Speaking of VIPs ... as I entered the stadium, wandering around trying to find the media seating, I walked up an aisle and was stopped by a polite volunteer. He told me I couldn't be there and pointed me in the right direction. I asked who was going to be sitting there. "Royalty,'' he said, in a rather matter-of-fact way.

I'm not very far away, so I will be looking over my shoulder to see if I recognize any faces I've seen in the tabloids or on the currency.

Our seats are great. Maybe 10 rows up, closer to the floor than the dignitaries' seats. They're on my left.  

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