18th October 2012 Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Medals from London

Last week I visited Uzbekistan’s National Olympic Committee, to meet the President of the Committee and the President of the National Paralympic Association. The Embassy worked with both organisations in preparation for this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, including helping to organise a table-tennis tournament for the diplomatic community with Paralympians.

President Boboev and President Madalieva had both been in London and shared their impressions, as well as their thoughts on things we could have done even better. They were very positive about the games, especially the Paralympics: the emphasis the British Government put on parity between the Olympic and Paralympic Games; the fact that the Paralympics followed very closely after the Olympics, meaning that the same organising team – and the same team of volunteers – worked on both Games and could carry over their experience from one to the other; and the thought that had been put into ensuring that from the moment they arrived in Heathrow the Paralympians had the facilities and the support they needed, so that they could concentrate on giving their best in competition. They were also rightly proud of the achievement of Uzbekistan’s medal winners, although determined to increase the number of medals in Rio in four years’ time.

Before coming to Tashkent I worked for almost a year in the Foreign Office on Olympics protocol issues, organising arrangements for the Heads of State and Heads of Government who came to London for the Olympics. It was a slightly unusual arrangement, in which the FCO effectively worked as a contractor to LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was exciting to be involved in the organisation of something so big, something that affected so many in Britain and around the world. And it was gratifying that the long and intensive preparation paid off with an event that, despite the odd shaky moment behind the scenes, ran smoothly and provided a framework for a celebration of sport, and a great gathering of athletes and spectators from across the world.

For me, working on an event of this kind brought home two lessons. First, how important it is to think through the experience of the people you’re making arrangements for – your customers, in management terms. It’s not just about giving them what they want: that wouldn’t be possible, for example, when you are dealing with eighty heads of state and heads of government, each of whom would like things arranged in a slightly different way. It’s about producing an experience that makes them feel that their needs have been taken into account and catered for. Secondly, the importance of planning. As President Eisenhower is supposed to have said “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything”. Our part of the organisation went well because every detail was in place, but we had the flexibility to cope if anything, or everything, went wrong, or if other parts of the picture changed at the last minute.

1 comment on “Medals from London

  1. Generally I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite great post.

Comments are closed.

About George Edgar

George Edgar is Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He took up his position in September 2012. Ambassador Edgar has previously been Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Cambodia and Macedonia; Consul General…

George Edgar is Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He took
up his position in September 2012. Ambassador Edgar has previously been Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Cambodia and Macedonia; Consul General in St Petersburg; and interim Ambassador to the Holy See. Most recently, he played a key role in Protocol Directorate in the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office in London in relation to arrangements for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Ambassador Edgar is married and has two daughters.

Follow George