Today our ticketed event was the late session of women's volleyball with matches scheduled between Italy and Japan, then Great Britain facing Algeria.
We arrived in London midday and traveled to Hyde Park, where a festival-type setting allowed free access to all. Huge screens, each displaying different live events, were scattered about the grounds.
Two young English ladies allowed us to share their table in front of one of the screens. One had attended her first basketball game last night and proclaimed herself a fan. The other was frustrated over having tried to purchase various event tickets totaling over 1,000 pounds (approximately $1,500) and was shut out of all her requests.
The locals are frustrated about not being able to attend events and are embarrassed at the world seeing their Olympic venues at less than full capacity. Reportedly officials are taking steps to resolve the issue.
We arrived at Earl's Court for the match 90 minutes early as instructed. We were ushered into the lobby as the previous session — which was the match between the U.S. and Brazil — was still being played. Surprisingly there were no television screens in the lobby. We asked to go into the upper arena, where you could see rows of empty seats, but were denied. After walking to the opposite lobby we were able watch the action on the large screen over the court. After watching for several minutes, we were ordered to move; because we had not paid for that session we could not watch on the screen, either. The U.S. win eased the disappointment.
Today's Olympic tidbit comes in honor of us watching badminton at Hyde Park. The best shuttlecocks, or what we amateur players refer to as birdies, are made from feathers taken from a goose's left wing.
Unfortunately, we are taking the day off today from events but do have a date to visit Buckingham Palace and maybe the Queen, but I plan to have plenty to share regardless.
Jay Gast is a detective for the Toledo Police Department, is active in the Old Newsboys Charity, and is a former standout basketball player for the University of Toledo.