As the clock in Trafalgar Square ticks down to the 27th of July, London gets ready for its biggest summer event: the Olympics. It is a once in a lifetime occurrence and probably will not happen here again during my life span, well at least not in a period when I am still eating solid foods.
London is hosting the Olympics for the fist time since 1948, and it is the only city to be hosting the event three times. As the host city of the Olympic games this summer, London is looking forward to the influx of world-class athletes as well as visitors from around the globe.
Whether it’s witnessing the Olympic flame pass through one’s hometown, sitting in the Olympic park or even watching it from the comfort of one’s own living room – the people in UK feel that they are a part of it and will be a part of its legacy. Little things like the signs for Olympic venues on the tube and the torch relay around the country has really engaged the nation.
Lit in Greece, the Olympic Flame arrived in the UK on 18 May 2012 and then set out on a 70-day Olympic Torch Relay the next day, bringing the excitement of the Games to everyone. In a small way I also became a part of this great event when I got the opportunity to take part in an event called the ‘Tree of Light’, which was a part of the cultural programme to celebrate the arrival of the torch at Reading’s Madjeski Stadium. Thousands of people celebrated a ‘proud day for Reading’ as the Olympic torch arrived at the Madjeski Stadium. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life to lead the dancers from Reading College, and to be able to be a part of this major event.
The London Olympics has helped in transforming the East London site from an under-developed, contaminated and polluted expanse of brownfield to a green wonderland.
Even if one doesn’t give two hoots about sport, London 2012 is doing much more than making history. It’s creating jobs and boosting the economy. A keenly-awaited economic forecast is predicting an end to the recession as the UK economy is boosted by an 'Indian summer'.
Although the prospect of not being able to board the tube and subsequent delays understandably fills a lot of us with dread, the inconveniences for the next few weeks are very much worthwhile in the long term.
Without doubt the weather is a factor; it is just not the same when it is pouring with rain. It will not affect the athletes- as an athlete you just run, rain or shine; but it will affect the mood, it might dampen the spirits for the spectators, so everyone's got their fingers crossed, although I don't think the forecast is too great.
India’s image has certainly changed after Beijing. It is a sporting nation. While speaking to many Indians living here I felt that the non-resident Indians, particularly the older generation, will cheer for Indian participants at the London Olympics. I see a lot of interest from recent Indian arrivals in the UK – a lot of educated young techies. There is a lackluster interest from UK-born Indians because they have not been visiting the ancestral country and are not exposed much to India except from what they hear from their parents. However, they will also follow the medal tally of the Indian team although they support the team of their adopted country: Great Britain.
Veteran journalist and author, Shamlal Puri, from London, wrote: “As an NRI I would like to have cheered the Indian contingent. I have lived here well over 40 years, so I owe loyalty to the British too! To be fair, I will cheer the best athletes – wherever they are from – even from Kenya or Tanzania, the countries where I have lived in the past!”
In the run up to the Olympics, the newspapers and TV will be inundated with stories about the chaos the Olympics could cause, from blown budgets, to traffic gridlock and security blunders. Then the games will start. The litany of bad news would persist for around a week, until some new narratives will emerge from the games. Some newly minted Olympic Heroes would be created and the organisational wrinkles would be ironed out.
The city will be surrounded by happiness and cheery sounds. Everyone will be a participant, which will make the Olympics more than a sports event. As a nation we will be able to look back and say "we were there".