Comment
Plenty to learn from Olympic test event

24/04 Updated: 25/04 17:07

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The teams emerge from the Ricoh tunnel ahead of their battle for the final place in the men's Olympic football tournament (s)

Observer editor Chris Smith was among the 11,611 people at the Ricoh for Monday night's Olympic men's football qualifier.

THE match between Senegal and Oman passed off without any real talking points and probably the expected outcome with the clearly stronger and technically superior Senegal winning comfortably 2-0 to take the final place in the London 2012 Games men's football tournament.

But the rest of the night's events have posed a lot of questions for The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and bosses at the Ricoh Arena.

Security when I arrived at the stadium was not what you would call tight, but it was significantly more stringent than a normal football match in this country.

All bags were searched, all fans were frisked - even the children - and personal items such as money, phones and wallets had to be presented to stewards in clear plastic bags.

But 20 minutes to go before kick off and queues mounting outside the checks were stopped and fans were ushered straight into the stadium.

The important thing to remember here was this was a test event. And the very nature of such an event was to find out how the processes will work for real when the Games get underway in July.

But how badly they worked will be of concern to stadium bosses for two reasons:

1 - The attendance on Monday was only a third of a Ricoh's capacity. If tickets are selling as well as we are told (exact figures have not been made public) there will be more supporters to 'process' through the turnstiles when the real games are staged.

2 - During the tournament security checks simply cannot be suspended because there are too many people waiting to get in. If they were and the worst happened it would be a total disaster.

Stadium bosses have admitted lessons will be learned, I suggest a total review of security procedures otherwise there is a real danger people will stay away.

Coventry City have struggled to attract fans to the stadium since moving there, and no-one wants to see empty seats at the so-called greatest sporting event on earth. The eyes of the world's media will be on us come July and we must deliver Games which matches the vast sums of money being spent as a host nation, and a host city.

All said and done, it was a great night and a great atmosphere and if all the teething problems can be ironed out and some big nations play here it will be well worth taking the once in our lifetime opportunity to be at the Olympics on home soil.

The draw for the Olympic football is taking place on Tuesday. Check back later for full details of the games the Ricoh will play host to.

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Oman were well supported in the stands (s)

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The match was won comfortably by Senegal (s)

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The attendance for the game was 11,611 with both countries well supported with many neutrals (s)

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Senegal fans were out in force (s)

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