A gala treat awaits Village occupants

A gala treat awaits Village occupants

When the first wave of athletes arrive in the Olympic Village on Monday they will find their new home from home bears little resemblance to anything found in the English countryside.

In terms of physical size, it may meet the strict dictionary definition of a settlement larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town.

The sort of village familiar through the ages of literary fiction -- ducks on the pond, cricket on the green, bell ringers in the churchyard and locals enjoying a lazy pint outside the pub on a summer’s afternoon -- it is most definitely not.

There is a ‘pub’, but it serves no alcohol. The landscaped green is surrounded by modern apartment blocks and for church read multi-faith centre.

There are green spaces, wetland pools and wildflowers but there are no farms or fields beyond the wire perimeter fence, only the gritty reality of one of the poorest parts of east London. The city centre is just seven minutes away by train.

None of this will matter to the world’s leading athletes, for whom the main priorities will be a good night’s sleep, food on demand and reliable transport to venues within easy reach.

On those three counts, and more when the recreational facilities are considered, the Village ticks all the boxes even if the real world stops at the airport-style security checkpoints.

“This knocks Club Med into a cocked hat,” declared London mayor Boris Johnson in typically boisterous and flag-waving fashion on a recent visit.

The Village ‘shops’, including a hairdresser and florist, have as a backdrop the giant mass of the nearby Westfield shopping complex -- Europe’s largest urban mall -- and the adjacent Olympic Park with its new stadium and showcase venues.

You can forget the Ploughman’s Lunch. The main ‘dining facility’ here is big enough to cater for most villages at one sitting and serve them a range of cooking from every corner of the world.  

There is a ‘Victory Park’, a ‘Celebration Avenue’ and a ‘Cheering Lane’. Sculptures, including an ‘Olympic Spirit’, are dotted around.

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