The scope of the Games makes it one of the most far-reaching and complex initiatives in modern times. The breadth of its influence is its attraction, its strength, and its everlasting weakness.
The Games has become, since its inception, a lightning rod for every grievance that mankind can muster. Organizers have been found to be unscrupulous, competitors have been exposed as cheaters, terrorists have used the event highlight their evil causes, and it has been branded as a money-wasting circus, catering only to the rich and elite of priviledged society. Protesters flock to the Games like flies to…well…honey.
Moreover, in an era when we chase the ideal of ethical and sustainable supply chains, the Games and its sponsors have been accused of fostering unfair labor practices from Africa to Southeast Asia.
With all of this mud being slung about, the Olympics still manage to captivate the imagination of billions around the globe. And rightfully so.
As a youth, I competed at elite levels in sport, and coached high performance athletes that included National Champions. I have counted Olympians among my closest friends. I know what it takes to get to the Olympic Games. And I also know that most athletes achieve success by honest, ethical means.
The Olympic Games will always, I hope, stir an incredible and wonderful sense of excitement within me, and a sense of pride that I was once able to participate in and contribute to athletics at that level.
Before we explore the subject of Olympic Logistics, I wanted to share a video that I find inspirational. It is a promotional video, which works to connect the Olympic Spirit with our everyday lives. It contains the lyrics, “What have I done today to make me feel proud?” – an insistence that we live each day to the fullest, and give our all.
And so it is that in my current profession, I look upon those who meet the challenges that staging on Olympic Games event, from a Supply Chain and Logistics Management perspective, with enormous respect and admiration. Yes, there is always an aspect of shameless capitalist self-promotion involved sponsoring and supporting such large-scale events – but isn’t that a little like the athletes themselves? It is an opportunity to showcase the best that you can offer, and you have a right to be proud if you are able to succeed.
Professor Richard Wilding of the Cranfield School of Management wrote an interesting piece last month in his blog “Innovating the Global Supply Chain.” It describes the astounding scope of the logistics challenges faced by organizers, and how they are rising to the occasion:
The Olympic games is Britain’s largest peacetime logistical exercise, it is equivalent to running 26 simultaneous sporting world championships at the same time. It is anticipated that 9 million spectators will be attending the main games and 2 million spectators attending the Paralympic games. In total over 300,000 athletes, officials, media, games “family members” and workforce will also be in attendance. London tourism chiefs are anticipating 500,000 people will be looking to stay overnight in London during the games. The games are taking place in the heart of London during the summer which is always the busiest time. In June “soft openings” occur of venues and the Olympic village with the official opening of the Olympic village on the 13th July and its closure on the 14th September so for a period of 3 months the Olympic party will consume the city.
However the implications of this event on the way logistics & supply chains operate is significant.My article in The Logistics of the Games in Cranfield “Management Focus” Spring 2012 (pp22-23) outlined some key issues in this blog my intention is to provide links to material and some further discussion.For Central London at “steady state” deliveries and collections make up 17% of the traffic rising to 25% of journeys from Monday to Friday. This equates to 281,000 freight journeys delivering goods including food and retail items. The Olympics requires an additional 1 million items of sports equipment and 250,000 items of luggage to be moved and managed. We then need to consider feeding the additional people, providing excellent “retail therapy” for visitors and of course providing somewhere for people to sleep!Logistics can be defined as “the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving people, facilities and supplies”. The complexity of the Olympics Logistics operation is the responsibility of UPS, the official Logistics partner, it has been involved, for example, in moving 10500 beds sourced in china and Malaysia through the supply chain, has secured 80,000 square meters of warehousing space to accommodate the demands of the Olympics. UPS have the unenviable task of managing the “last mile” into the Olympic venues. Loads are brought into warehouses, unloaded and checked, everything is X rayed for security purposes before being loaded onto vehicles to be sent into the venues. But what goes into the venues also needs to come out! So the Olympics decommissioning is also a significant challenge involving retrieval, return to warehouses and finally disposal. (Read more…)
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