Foreign Dispatch: Covering the Olympic Games

Courtesy: Emily Wither

By FOX News Radio’s Emily Wither in London at the Olympics:

Pearl Jam cuts through the clicking of keyboards and the murmur of various languages and a handful of us journalists in the Olympic media press center turn round in our chairs and grin at each other. We’re all snapped out of our daydream when the man answers his phone, the musical ring tone interlude is over and it’s back to the media marathon.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

But where do I even begin? The amount of sports is overwhelming. I can see multiple screens from my desk, all simultaneously showing world-class athletes competing in everything from fencing to rhythmic gymnastics. Still, that’s part of the charm here at the Olympics; a country can strike gold across multiple events as quickly as it takes me to make a cup of tea and scurry back to my desk.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

I’ve noticed people don’t like sitting next to me. They slowly edge away after taking a nearby seat and I realize after a couple of days of wondering if I smell, that many journalists here are print. My constant chatter on the radio can be a little distracting for them, speaking sentences out loud in a crowded office is enough to drive anyone crazy. There are no assigned desks, just masses of white rows where you can sit down and plug in, but now the fight for a seat is pretty much over.  Journalists have fallen into habits and marked out their turf.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

I’ve found refuge with the other loud reporters in an unofficial radio corner, but when we’re all talking at the same time I’ve found that we enter our own Olympic competition of who can shout the loudest.

Just like a mini-Olympic village, countries have flocked to their own corners.  Language aside, you can usually tell who has conquered which area by the cheers and sharp intakes of breath erupting from different directions when a medal is won or lost. Everyone seems to join in with a cheer when host nation Great Britain strikes gold… yes, even the French.

We could be our own village here, I’m wondering if they’ll let me stay on once the games are over.  The media center boasts a hairdresser, gym, a bar and even a nightly band to watch if you’re sick of watching something that involves a scoring system. There is a faith room celebrating everything from Shabbat to the end of Ramadan. With over 22,000 members of the media there are a lot of tastes to cater for, we by far outnumber the athletes.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

For most journalists here, this isn’t their first Olympic games. The old timers trade stories and pins in the corner while the newbies, like me, flap about a little over-excitably. I by no means am a sports journalist, unlike most of the other reporters here, so the helpful taps on the shoulder offering up advice from the correct terminology to how to pronounce an athlete’s name has been most appreciated.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

Aside from the British weather, which for the most part has behaved itself, the main grumble in the press center is that we ironically don’t get to watch enough sport.

But I luckily was able to sneak away from the clutches of Fox News Radio to watch the 100 meters men’s final in the main stadium.

Those few seconds of silence that fell over the 80,000 fans packed in the stalls and among viewers in front of television screens around the world were magical.

Courtesy: Emily Wither

And then for 10 seconds no matter our differences we were all united in anticipation, tension, excitement and then joy. A golden moment that can only be found at the Olympics.

LISTEN to some of Emily Wither’s reporting from the 2012 London Olympics:

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