Organisers of the Olympic torch relay have admitted that it ‘may have been a mistake’ to ask advice from a taxi driver when plotting a route from Land’s End to the Olympic stadium in Stratford, with the journey set to take just over two months to complete.
With the flame arriving from Athens and being flown to Land’s End after a mix up with the flight scheduling, organisers asked a taxi driver the quickest way to London. His suggestion, made while hoping he was about to get the fare of a lifetime, then became the official torch route.
‘The guy seemed very helpful and explained in detail that the shortest route wasn’t necessarily the quickest, but now I think about it he did seem to be struggling to contain a smile the whole time.’ explained LOCOG chair Seb Coe, ‘It did strike me as strange that the route he suggested included passing through Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and it didn’t look very direct on the map. But I don’t really know the area and the man drives for a living, so I wasn’t about to question his knowledge.’
With the internet not yet having reached Cornwall there was no way for organisers to immediately verify the advice, and Coe now admits that they should have waited until they had chance to check what they had been told before announcing the plans.
‘In hindsight it was probably a mistake. We’ve all made mistakes when it comes to route-planning, but taking what should be a 6 or 7 hour journey covering 300 miles, and turning it into a 70 day, 8,000 mile ordeal takes the biscuit.’ continued Coe, ‘We’re already over budget for the event and trying to get 8,000 miles worth of petrol signed off at the current prices was never going to happen. Luckily we’ve managed to convince a load of people to carry the torch for us on foot, so we don’t have to drive the whole way.’