In Focus | Olympics London 2012

Thank you, London for giving us a people’s Games

It was all about simplicity, practicality and cool efficiency

  • By Robin Chatterjee, Senior Associate Editor
  • Published: 18:36 August 12, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • The London Olympics came to an end on Sunday

Dear London,

Just a quick thank you note:

For the simplicity, practicality and cool efficiency.

For not being brash and overambitious.

For the most appropriate Olympic Games opening ceremony. If Athens was about history, Beijing was about coming-of-age, then you were definitely about people. It’s the people who make the Olympics.

For showcasing your rich musical history in a rip-roaring closing ceremony in what was one big party.

For a tongue-in-cheek showcasing of British custom and tradition; breaking away from stereotypes and having the ability to laugh at yourselves.

For ensuring that the Queen agreed to throw herself out of a plane, wearing a parachute of course, with none other than James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) overseeing her security detail, right into Olympic Park.

Absolutely bonkers.

For making room, like generous hosts, to accommodate guests from many countries.

For providing the safety and security to enable us to walk safely down the streets, enjoy the rich culture along with high octane Olympic competition.

For telling us that we could approach a British cop for directions and we would be assisted with a smile. They did smile.

For enabling us to know that if we wanted to approach a British cop, just for a chat, then it was perfectly appropriate to do so. They responded with courtesy.

For the classic venue planning — the women’s beach volleyball players co-existed, happily, on Horse Guards Parade with fans and British government officials who occasionally peered out of their windows to catch a glimpse of the action.

For putting surface-to-air missiles on building rooftops, submarines and destroyers in the Thames, to keep the Games and the people safe from any terrorist attack.

For exceptional damage control skills — bringing in reinforcements to man the borders, when the employees went on strike.

For enabling us to make friends from different countries and cultures.

For the crowds — they embodied the Olympic spirit. Sporting crowds have a number of adjectives attributed to them. In London, it was just the collective noise.

For selling a record number of tickets, 2.1 million, to the Paralympic Games. More crowds.

For the volunteers, who worked tirelessly and efficiently but always with a smile on their face.

For the history, culture, art, entertainment, food and beverages that are always on standby.

For reducing the price of theatre tickets.

For the transport system — trains, buses and cabs. If you gave them an address, they got you there — mostly on time.

For the wonderful, but practical, venues at Olympic Park that featured some stirring competition

For the parks where one could just sit down, sleep, eat, read, debate, or contemplate.

For ensuring that the Games tickets, which were mostly unsold, finally made their way back to the public.

For setting up the London Media Centre (whose novel idea was that?) with its stringent security checks, state-of-the-art facilities; helpful and knowledgeable staff; which gave non-accredited journalists a new lease of life.

For making sure that legacy isn’t a wasted word. There will be “life” after the Olympics in East London.

For galvanising an entire nation and convincing the sceptics that the British are anything but blasé.

For the unity, in diversity. There is a “home away from home” here for everyone.

For “engineering” spells of good weather.

Thank you for the memories and a great Games.


P.S. In return we hope your economy booms and your unemployment rates go down. We will watch carefully for the return on investment.

Gulf News

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