All Fun and Games?
A View from London on the 2012 Olympic Games
Any Brit will tell you that the country has been bombarded with Olympic related everything for the last 7 years. After a few hiccups and doubts, the games are well on their way. Success seems in the midst and the country lets out a communal sigh of relief. British medals are flowing in and a sense of world community has been felt through these games, following the Olympics’ proud history.
The British Olympic Association began working on the British bid in 1997, organisers invested over a decade of their lives to preparations. Public suspense began on 6th July 2005, with a ring of cheers when London first won the bid for 2012. Since then the focus of national media has been stuck on the games. From the surprisingly debated ‘Lisa Simpson’ logo to the size of rooms in the Olympic Village, everything has been reported on and examined.
Opinion has been suitably positive with regards to the extravagant opening ceremony on 29th July, but still mixed overall. The ceremony was shockingly British, full of Danny Boyle’s quirky wit. The world watched the scenes eccentrically change from sheep-filled fields to Lord Voldemort and The Sex Pistols. Highlight of the night for many has to be her HRH The Queen jumping from a helicopter; surprise and randomness were certainly qualities attained. Even the most pessimistic of Brits have hopefully enjoyed the ceremony, no one can avoid the feeling of a subtle pride in our global showing-off. Yet there is the worry of whether the rest of the world will quite ‘get’ the ceremony, considering its very Britishness. The New York Times called the ceremony ‘weirdly and unabashedly British’. However, weird is much better than boring when it comes to the Olympics.
Never-the-less, many are yet to relax. The biggest worry for many all along has been the threat of terrorism during the games. The reek of the 7/7 bombings still lingers; just one day after the Olympic bid was won, Islamic terrorists killed 52 civilians and injured over 700 in their attacks against London. Because of this, the winning of the bid has always had a bittersweet taste for Londoners. The next weeks will be a huge test on the Metropolitan Police and security services as the coming together of the world is a sure target for terrorism. It seems that the country has successfully covered the G4 security crisis (in which a private security company failed to provide as many staff as required) by calling upon the Army – although the real price of using troops is yet to be seen.
Other serious concerns are unlikely to be thought of in all the current excitement. The huge overspend, unnecessary building and possible waste of resources will be issues largely ignored until the end of the Games. The British publication of The Economist has called the games ‘ambitious’ and does note the cover-up over spending on the governments’ behalf. The budget was quadrupled in 2007 and is the only reason that the Olympic Delivery Authority (as well as the Prime Minister David Cameron) can boast that the price of games was within budget.
For now however, the walls of London have been painted a new extra-British colour. Crowds flock in bigger volumes than ever before to the capital city and the unlikely spell of good weather has put smiles on everyone’s faces, surely leaving many tourists wondering what it is we’re always complaining about. The ceremony was also a boost for the global sense of community, as 205 counties have come together in good sportsmanship. The first games in history where all teams have allowed female candidates to compete also shows a positive leap for world progression in equality. We can only hope that threats are simply threats and show the world what we are made of; let the games begin.