If, by any chance, you’ve neglected to listen to the radio, read the newspapers, watch TV or pour through articles on the net, you may not be aware that London is a year away from hosting the Olympics. It’s a small matter, delivering one of the biggest and most widely watched competitions on earth; with athletes, broadcasters and sponsors set to decamp in the capital next summer. However, with an event of this stature some are happy about it and others are not so happy.

Like the Millennium Dome or Wembley Stadium, there’s always the sense that there will be a fatal flaw. With a tournament of this complexity it’ll be foolhardy to believe that everything will go according to plan. Nevertheless in the last week we’ve witnessed healthy doses of positivity, with several authority figures declaring that the 2012 Olympic Games is on schedule (or ahead of it in some cases), and on budget.

…they will be the literal face of next year’s games.

Last week, a crowd filled with old and young attended a ceremony at Trafalgar Square to unveil the medals for the Olympics with the words “London 2012” scribbled on the faces of the more youthful people in the crowd. Seeing that, it’s not hard to make the case that they will be the literal face of next year’s games. Their smiles indicating that there is support and anticipation not only from businesses and sponsors but from the public itself.

For while some may view the Games as a vanity project there are others who will see a legacy being built. The construction of facilities and redevelopment of areas will be handed over to this younger generation, creating new marketplaces in the City and allowing the public access to state of the art facilities. It’s a future filled with opportunity.

…don’t believe that vision will be fulfilled…

However detractors of the Olympics don’t believe that vision will be fulfilled, at least not without an enormous and debilitating outlay.

In the face of that fanfare and optimism there are concerns about whether the people who’ve paid for a substantial amount of the Games (i.e. the taxpayers) will be able to participate in the event they’ve helped realise.

…as a way of putting the spotlight on London…

There’s the sense that the Games are seen by the Government and sponsors as a way of putting the spotlight on London; bringing tourists and revenue to the capital but leaving the taxpayers, who have contributed a colossal £9.3 billion somewhere in the dark. The Olympic fund could have been put into schemes, redevelopment, education or jobs. Instead it will go into funding one of the most commercial enterprises we have ever seen and the public at large won’t be in the front row to see it happen.

This feeling won’t go away with recent announcements that the taxpayers may foot the bill for free travel for Olympic ticket holders (to the tune of £150 million). Add to this the ticket fiasco where British residents were scrambling to buy tickets through an online system that crashed several times, with some using a French ticketing website to obtain tickets; taxpayers feel as if they’re subsidising the cost of others, while having to make do with watching the Games from the comfort of their own home, if at all.

…we celebrate what’s good about our capital.

With the good comes the bad and the bad comes with the good; let’s hope that when the Olympics arrive next summer we celebrate what’s good about our capital.

Image courtesy of the 2012 Olympics


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