Diary of a London Games-maker: Computer says no!

[Last time: first impressions of my first morning as an Olympics volunteer.]

Lord's Cricket Ground becomes an Olympics archery venue.

I volunteered to work at Lord's because I love cricket, and wanted to see behind the scenes of this famous old venue.  I'm not quite so sure why I put down that I wanted to work in accreditation.

I supposed it would be a vaguely intellectually demanding role, but I didn't have much of a sense of what I'd be doing.  My father, a veteran of nine previous Olympics, thought I wouldn't have many responsibilities, as most accreditation would be sorted out before people made it to the venues (otherwise they wouldn't be able to get in).

I hoped that wasn't going to be entirely true, but even after a couple of training sessions, I was still a bit vague as to my duties, so I turned up to the venue not sure if I was up to the job.

Star archer Im Dong Hyun of South Korea: already accredited (Picture by Andy Rogers)

For the first few days, Lord's was under a sort of lockdown.  Technically, you needed accreditation to get on site, but as it was still being fitted out, the thing you really needed was a fit-out pass.  As long as you had one of those, you'd probably be able to get to where you needed to be, and we weren't responsible for providing them.

Our primary task on the first couple of days, then, seemed to be one of checking whether would-be G4S employees were in the computer system yet.  If they weren't, we had to send them away; if they were, we had to send them to a grim industrial estate in West Ham.  Neither option seemed great, but at least the latter meant they could start work the following day.

My first 'computer says yes' moment came after lunch on Day 1, when I got to print out and laminate a BT technician's card, but before things got too exciting, my shift finished.

The next day, with office-based tasks still thin on the ground, we got to work moving pink boards.  These were to be erected around the venue, to make it clear who was allowed to go where.  If you didn't have the right codes on your accreditation, you couldn't go past the board.

Pink access boards: they get knocked down, we pick them up again.

However, with G4S in charge of the checking, it was anyone's guess as to whether this rule would be applied, so our manager, Megan, decided we should try some espionage.

With my fellow volunteer Howard, I was sent out to see if we could gain access to areas that we shouldn't.  Would our uniforms and our passes and our confident walk enable us to gain unauthorized entry to the athletes' lounge, for example?

At the first board, we were both denied entry.  We split up, and whilst Howard tried to get into the lounge, I went out of one gate and tried to go back in another: the athletes-only one.  The security guys stopped me (till I showed my special upgrade pass, concealed for just that eventuality) and then, when I tried to get out the other side, I was stopped again.

I reported back to Megan that - pleasantly surprisingly - the G4S guards were doing their job.  When Howard came back, though, he said he'd been able to sneak in through an unguarded door and wander round the athletes' lounge with impunity.  Clearly a bit more training was required.

It doesn't matter if you are HM The Queen: if you've not got the right accreditation, you can't go past the pink board!

This was demonstrated elegantly a few days later, when G4S did not follow protocol when bringing our first properly famous person into the VAHO, leading to minor recriminations, but I'll save that SHOCKING* story for next time...


*It isn't shocking, I just thought I'd employ a Sun-style set of CAPS to grab your attention.

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