The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part;
the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.
London, revered as the centre of the world in the past and as of from today, it will certainly take that position again… It literally is ‘on your marks… get set… ready’, as we all wait for the greatest show on earth to kick off. The city is on high alert and in very high spirits in these final few hours before the London Olympic Games 2012 begins. For me, it certainly will be a once in a lifetime event. Even though London is the only city in the world to ever have hosted the Olympic Games three times, I will witness it for the first time in my life. How brilliant is that?
Of course there have been a few controversies and there are likely to be more. We have to shrug our shoulders and think: “So what the hell if the Olympic organizers mistakenly displayed the South Korean flag when they introduced North Korean players before the start of a game on Wednesday night?” These games aren’t about “big political issues” or a North-South divide. Instead, these Games are about unity, passion and ‘may the best man win‘… So, who cares if Mitt Romney said “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.” Come to think of it, in a few years’ time, none of us will remember how he turned out…
The good thing is, the row about security and a possible border control strike have been avoided. Our train and bus drivers are happy to stay behind their wheels for their work’s worth and we’ve delivered a spectacular Olympic Park bang on time… It’s a testament of how the Great British spirit is alive even in these times of austerity. So despite cutbacks and everyone feeling the pinch, there is very little to be negative about. Over the past few years, I’ve watched this amazing, rich and diverse city explode with new developments and I for one, are very excited to show it off to the world.
One of the things that has excited me the most is the Emirates Cable Carts, which will take spectators across the Thames to some of the Olympic venues, whilst providing spectacular views of the most iconic river in the world, and of course the impressive architecture of Canary Wharf — London’s new financial district. East London — the hub of the Games — always known as the trendy and poorer back-end of the city, has been transformed into one of the most glamorous and fashionable parts of the London. So much so, that even Banksy — the once anti-everything graffiti artist prowling the streets of Shoreditch — created an Olympics-inspired mural…
Best yet, everybody will have a few stories to tell. A friend of mine sent me this text last night: “I accidentally reversed my car into a hired Range Rover with the President of the Republic of Fiji inside. I was going to apologise to the President for startling him, but he was whisked inside before I could get to him. They probably thought it was an assassination attempt.” Well, at least it wasn’t a North Korean delegate, because frankly, as it stands I don’t think Britain will be doing business with them again….
My favourite story until now, is that I was invited to see the first complete rehearsal of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, this past Monday evening. As I approached the Olympic Park and the crowd-controllers sat on their little pedestals announcing proudly ‘Welcome to the greatest city in the world. Welcome to London. We are going to show you the greatest show on earth!’, I had goosebumps all over my body! They couldn’t have spoken a truer word. Everything about that evening was perfect from the Anish Kapoor Orbit, right down to the utterly polite and very efficient volunteers who showed us to our seats… I am a bit disappointed that McDonald’s has been chosen as the official restaurant for the Games, but the SPECTACULAR!!! opening ceremony has made that nauseating thought a distant memory.
With that, I guess there is not much more to say, except: Welcome to London, Welcome to Britain!!! We are going to give you the greatest show on earth!
… Oh yes, and Mitt, your ox wagon is waiting. You can leave now…
Images: FR Lubbe
Text: FR Lubbe