The Canadian moose arrived early in the Athletes Village. He was followed by a couple of Emus to stand outside the Australian accommodation and by a variety of other National symbols, flags and other decoration. Virtually every Country competing at London 2012 has displayed their identity prominently on the apartment blocks in the Village – as is traditional. But there is one notable exception to this – one of the largest of all teams, the United States of America, has no branding of any type at all on its large building. Why is this? I sought out someone working with the American team to find out.The answer, it seems, is not the one that you might think – security concerns. I asked whether the US Olympic Committee was worried that their athletes might be a target during the London Games. This is not the reason – indeed I can confirm that I have seen the American competitors moving freely and without any apparent anxiety around the Village. A couple of days ago Michael Phelps was standing with some other US athletes outside the American block chatting amiably to passers-by. He seemed characteristically unconcerned about anything!
So what’s it all about? Well it seems, or so my informant told me, that the Americans don’t want to be too “in your face”. Apparently the US team want their performances to do the talking and don’t want to present a boastful image to the world. They will celebrate their successes but they won’t anticipate them with ostentatious display. The American team is not kitted out in the Stars and Stripes and Red, White and Blue either – the US Uniform is a very dull grey! As I have said this diffidence is almost unique among all the nations at the Games. Indeed for those of us spending a lot of time in the Village it is a delight to see all the colourful flags and bunting and the brightly coloured attire of the competitors. The concept of over-modesty and discretion is not a national characteristic that one normally associates with our friends from across the pond! Maybe that’s why, this time, it’s all so low key!