rom inside the Olympic village in Seoul it is hard to imagine that there is a big. bad and occasionallyriotous world out there.
The athletes are cosseted in a womb of their own with no need to venture forth except for training and competing — or drinking. unless like the French they have flown out with their own supply of wine.
in truth. anything less like a village is hard to imagine. The buildings are a series of pale grey concrete blocks. up to 25 storeys high. which in appearance could be almost anywhere in the world. ('l'hat is a fact of which the Koreans. no doubt. would be inordinately proud. ) 'l‘here must be nearly one hundred of them. radiating out in lines like spokes from a glass concrete and steel hub.
Within these. athletes each have their own room. four to an apartment. with a communal lounge and a kitchen - the latterout of bounds to preserve it intact for the Korean yuppies who have already bought most of the flats.
'l‘he flats are spacious but sparsely furnished with no carpets and firm. narrow single beds. The American party have the distinction of having ordered most optional extras. televisions. washing machines and fridges. Britain's competitors hay e only a handful of the former and none ofthe latter. Nordoesanyone have air conditioning: a fact w hich makes life uncomfortable in the typically muggy ‘llldegrees.
'l‘he athletes dietary needs are catered for by a vast self-sei'y ice restaurant. which can seat 3.51M) people at any one time and expects to cater for 14.1" M for each meal. 11 is not as bad as it sounds: it is divided up into just manageable seating areas spread over two floors and the food served encompasses just about every taste in the world. Among the cuisine offered is Korean kimeh'i. a range of spiced pickled vegetables with the highest ratio of garlic per nibble of any food in the world.
there have been no complaints from the British. the l‘rench. of course. have brought their own chef.
Otherwise there is a small indoor pool for recreational purposes. a series ofshops. ‘tea rooms' and mini-departnient stores. and a gruesomely high tech fitness hall where you can simultaneously play
video games while working otit on an exercise bike.
Information from beyond the four walls comes y ia the Seoul Olympian a remorselessly cheerful daily paper ol' the (ianies. each day ‘s issue published in both liriglish and French. 11 is not a bad paper: it was here. for instance. that it was first revealed that each athlete had been issued with one condom as a precaution against Aids. But it is strugglingto do its duty in providing. by the end of the Olympics. a page of pictures and praise to each of the participating nations. By issue No if). the best it could manage on Bulgaria was the less than scintillating: ‘l’opulation Density
One ofthe Lowest In Eastern Europe.‘
Security is. ofcourse. strict. The central core ofthe village is l designated its international zone. where athletes of all countries may wander freely. (Unless. like the Iraquis. they have been instructed not to have any contact with athletes
from Israel or Iran: or. like the Lebanese. they have been forbidden to contact women. ) Btit each spoke of buildings is separated by fences from the next and only those residing in them may pass the guard at each entrance.
Around the whole site - which covers a square mile or more — is a double wire fence with electronic 2 surveillance and a myriad of soldiers and other obstructions beyond. Noone can enter the village at all without the yellow photo-identity card that hangs constantly from everybodys neck. In an effort to dampen down tears that security would seem oppressive. the soldiers have had their uniforms redesigned in the palest possible green-grey. and have been told to smile — which they do.
More oppressive. in a curious way. are the vast numbers ofconstantly charming young Korean volunteers -- the men in blazers and neatly pressed trousers. the women in ‘ehima chogori'. traditional costume whose skirts start under the arm -— who line tip all over the place just to greet you. It can prove tiresome. when all you want is to pop in and back out of somewhere to see if a friend is there. to have to say hello and goodbye to tip to eight polite individuals. Btit it would be churlish. of course. to do otherwise.
the biggest plus of all for the athletes. so long as they remain in their village. is the splendid isolation they enjoy from all sections of the press. there is a separate press village — with almost identical buildings but the benefits of carpets. televisions and a couple of highly crowded bars —< jtrst 25 yards away from the athletes.
Btit they are separated by a road. two fences. a clutch of soldiers and an array of electronic hardware. Journalists seeking entrance to the athletes~ village must walk a mile around the perimeter fence — along way ifit is hot - and then go through an elaborate checking-in procedure. liven then they are restricted. unless 24 hours notice has been given. to the ‘international’ zone.
Meanwhile the whole '()ly'nipic family". as athletes and press are all joyously known. is based a full 30 minutes by taxi from the skyscrapers and plush hotels ofeentral Seoul. and more than an hour away by bus.
Driving out. the paddy fields start after another quarter of a mile. a welcome glimpse of green from the
enclosed world of the village. lixeept that the road through to them. too. is closed: jtist another precaution against a terrorist attack. Instead atheletes wishing togently stretch their legs on the ‘flag l’laza‘ of their village. must endure a more lurid green. the distinctly artificial colour of an area of artificial turf.
As the famous flame arrives in Korea. David Wastell reports from the Olympic Village in Seoul and Stuart Bathgate gives a day—by-day guide to the Games highlights.
Although it will be hard to j escapetromtheOlympics ; on TV during the coming fortnight. itwill be even more ditticult finding a specific event. The most popularsports-athletics. swimming. gymnastics and anything involving British competitors — will be shown ' live. or as soon as possible afterwards. which will probably mean 4.45am.
Channel 4-will run through the night from around 11 .30pm: inthe listings below. events to be shown in the programme beginning. for instance. at 11.30pm on Monday are listed underTuesday. 8301 will. as well. run live lhroughoutthe night. but will also. along with BBCZ and ITV. run highlights programmes at less anti-social hours. All timings are subject to alteration.
I Opening Ceremony: i'l‘tllll l..‘~llani. several hours of several thousand eayor'tllig kids welcoming the world toSeoul.
C4: 11.30pm Friday-Sam. 8—9.25am. ITV: 11.30am—1pm. . 4.15—4.4Spm. ' 5.05—5.35pm. 8801: 12.55-53m. 8am—5pm.
I Opening Ceremony Highlights Along with general previews of the separate sports. and a run through of how many British athletes have problems with their Achilles tendons.
C4: 11.15pm I Saturday—9.25am. ITV: noon-1pm. 4-5pm. BBC1:
10am-12.05pm. BBCZ: 1.05—6.40pm.
I Basketball l’i‘eliniinary matches. l3.45ain onwards. l I Diving Women's
platform final. 2am. I Gymnastics Men‘s team competition. 2am onwards.
I Hockey ( ireat Britain v South Korea. (i. [Sam The surprise broil/e medalists from l.os Arigeles take on the home country in the
first of the men's mini-league matches,
I Swimming l leafs lrorn midnight onwards of the men‘s llltlin breast stroke. with Britain's best medal hope. Adrian \fooihouse lookingloraplaceinthe 5 final.
C4: 11.30pm Sunday—9.25m. ITV: 11am-2pm. 5.15-5.45pm. 5—6.3opm. BBC1: Midnight—10.25am. Ham—12.55pm. 1.50—3.50pm. 7-8pm.
I Gymnastics women's team coriipetitioii. 2am onwards. .A major battle is expected bctw een the t'SSR. traditionally dominant in both the men's and w omen's events. and Romania. whose team includes current world champion Aurelia l)olire.
I Rowing ( ‘o\lesspaiis heats. midnight onwards. Britain's Stey e Redgray e and Andy liolnicswori last year's world championship in this event. but recent injuries have severely hampered their trainingprogramme. I Swimming l-‘rom 3am. four finals: women‘s ltlllm freesty le and 4t ll lrn individual medley ; men's ltlllni breast stroke and Itltlni freestyle.
C4: 11.20pm Monday-9.25m. ITV: 11am—2pm. 5.15—5.45pm. 6—6.30pm.88C1:11.30pm Monday-10.553m. 11.353m—12.55pm. 7—8pm. BBCZ: 2.15—4pm. I Cycling .‘yten’s lfltlllrn timetrialfinalﬁanianay just feature Scotland‘s titltlie .'\iL‘\£lllttL‘l'. ('onirnonwcaltli bron/e medalist.
I Hockey ( ireat Britain y ('ariada. midnight. Another men's preliminary riiatcli. ITennis .\len'ssingles. from 3am. Putting the tinalriailinthecollinot tlie()lyinpic aiiiateui tradition. the tennis corripetition will feature such unknown liopelulsas lidberg. Becker and \Vllulitlet‘.
C4: 11 .30pm
Tuesday—9.25m. ITV: 11am—2pm. 5.15—5.45pm. 6-6.30pm. BBC1: Midnight—10.25am. 11am-12.55pm. BBCZ: 2.15-3.50pm.
I Gymnastics women's team competition. 3am and l l..‘~llarii
I Hockey ( ii'eal Britain v .-\rgenlrna. midnight. \Vonicn‘s preliminary match.
I Swimming Another night of men's and women‘s finals. from 3am.
C4:11.30pm Wednesday—9.25am. ITV: 11am—2pm. 5.15—5.45pm. 6—6.30pm. BBC1:11.30pm Wednesday—10.253m. 11am—12.55pm. 7-8pm. BBCZ: 2.15—4.30pm. I Cycling \ten's .toiinm pursuit final. Sam. I Equestrianism 'l he show jumping section (.1..‘~tlaiii l of the three day event sees the veteran l)ay id Bioonie back in the British team. I Modern Pentathlon the -tlltltlrri cross country rsthc last of the live eyerits. and w ill decide both team and indry idual medals.
C4: 11.30pm Thursday—9.25'am. ITV: 11am—2pm. 5.15-5.45pm. 6-6.30pm. BBC1:11.30pm Thursday—10.253m. 11am—12.55pm. 7—8.15pm. BBCZ: 2.20—4.30pm.
I Athletics first day of what isstrll tlierriajor sport of tlic ( iarrics leatuics the women's niaratlionat 13.3flairi. followed twenty minutes later by the first rotiridol the men's lllllrii. \yrtlit'arl l.ewis and Ben Johnson renew rng their soniew hat .‘icr'iiiioniousrivalry
I Gymnastics women‘s individualtoinpetition. from .‘iain
ISwimming today‘s finals. beginning at llain, include the men's freestyle relay and the wolilell\ it'llni breast stroke
C4: 11.15pm Friday—9.25am. lTV: 11.30am—1pm. 4.15—4.45pm. 5.05—5.35pm. BBC1:
8 The List 16— 29 September 1988