The Greatest Distance – finally selected

Had Paris won the bid to host the Olympic Games they were scheduled to begin with the opening ceremony penciled in for the 27th July. Instead based on a mere 4 votes out of 104, cast by people we have little idea of, the 27th will instead see London hosting that ceremony. But what has happened to the location in Paris marked out for the games? And if the subtext of the Olympics is regeneration and legacy how has Paris developed. Indeed given the economic state of affairs does Paris look back with some relief at missing out?

The selection panel discussed these ideas and finally felt that Martin’s proposal offered the most potential. So On Tuesday the 24th I will begin with my walk from the Athletes Village in Stratford/Leyton and make for St Pancras.


The greatest possible distance from the Opening Ceremony for the 2012
London Olympic Games is Batignolles, in the 17th arrondissement of

Paris was one of the five cities shortlisted to hold the games and was
widely seen as the favourite to win the bid. On 6 July 2005 it lost
the final round of voting to London (50-54). The tiny distance of four
votes leads to the huge distance of alternative possibilities.

Had the Paris bid been successful, the athletes’ village would have
been built in Batignolles on wasteland belonging to SNCF, the French
national railway. This land is currently being regenerated with
housing, retail and offices around a centre park, the Martin Luther
King garden.

Batignolles and Stratford are therefore separated by the infinite
distance of the counter-factual yet one has continued to echo the
other. This raises interesting questions about how much of a catalyst
for regeneration the Olympics really are.

You should start as close to the Olympic Village in Stratford as
possible and walk to St Pancras following the line of the railway as
much as possible. You should then take the Eurostar (which will stop
at Stratford International) to Paris and walk to Parc
Martin-Luther-King in Batignolles to coincide with the start of the
Opening Ceremony.

It would be intriguing to compare the permeability of public space
around both parks and whether, by being disconnected from the
Olympics, Batignolles as managed to reconnect with its people.



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