Londoners on the Olympics

By Alex Veeneman on July 12, 2012

Signs at the Olympic Park in London. The Games kick off here in fifteen days, but there are some questions as to whether the city is ready.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user andywilkes)

In fifteen days, the Olympics will kick off in London. For two weeks, some of the world’s best and brightest athletes will come to compete in some historic sporting action. London and Partners, the tourism organization for the city, estimates that 5.5 million people will come to the capital during the day while the Games progress, with 294,000 overseas visitors and 587,000 UK visitors staying.

However, going in to the event, there has been some speculation as to whether London is ready to host an event of this magnitude. Long lines have formed at the UK’s flagship airport Heathrow, while Londoners are being urged to walk or bike around the city because of the volume of traffic. There have also been concerns on security, as a challenge was made by residents in East London by a plan proposed by the British government.

It leads to this question. What do Londoners think of the Olympics? Do they think the city, and indeed the country, is ready for them? Uloop spoke to several Londoners on the subject. Alexandra Marr says that things are in full swing. “We’re all gearing up for it and getting very excited,” Marr said. Meanwhile, Dan Griliopoulos says that the country is not ready. “[The] transport network is already at capacity, [the] pleasure gardens aren’t finished, and [the] country can’t afford it,” Griliopoulos said.

Beth Parnell-Hopkinson says that despite all the hiccups, London is ready. “London has had its fair share of hiccups in the run-up to the Olympics,” Parnell-Hopkinson said. “It’s probably reasonable to say that the country is waiting with bated breath in that curiously British way of expecting everything to go horribly wrong but at the same time determined to put on a Games to be proud of.”

Parnell-Hopkinson added in spite of some criticism of the Olympics budget that it has been a worthwhile investment. “There’s a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of the Olympics and yes, it’s going to be tough, especially for commuters and those of us who still need London to function relatively normally,” Parnell-Hopkinson said. “But once all the bunting has been taken down and everyone’s gone home, the legacies left behind will benefit the whole country in a variety of ways from transport to improving our sports infrastructure, not to mention the regeneration of one of London’s most deprived areas.”

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