|I just love this picture of David Beckham holding the flame as it arrived in Cornwall in May. Photo: Guardian|
Over past twelve or so months I’ve sometimes despaired at the attitude this city, that I now call my home, has had towards the Olympics. Especially my former employer, our national broadcaster, the BBC, seem to have taken delight in putting the most negative spin on the Games.
Each night on the national BBC TV news it’s been bad enough, but on the local London BBC channel there has been nothing but whinging about the forthcoming ‘traffic chaos’, ‘security shambles’, ‘commuter nightmare’, and ‘failed promises about the sporting legacy’. The local Olympic reporter, Adrian Warner, has ended each report with a comment such as, ‘but there are people who worry that the Games will disturb their daily lives.’ Really?
If there was a report on the building of the Olympic Park being on time, it’d be followed by a negative comment about the cost. They’d have Londoners on who had issues with the security, shop-keepers in Stratford centre who worried that their establishments wouldn’t get the footfall they normally receive, black cab drivers who not being allowed into the Olympic lanes, were complaining that (in spite of the increased fares which were not mentioned) due to the traffic queues, their income during the Games would be reduced. Reports on the 70-day torch relay through the British Isles, which this week reached London, have been subdued, even though the public reaction to the torch bearers exceeded all expectations. In spite of the unseasonal wind and rain both the runners and spectators had to endure.
The worst of all has been Radio 4, which even compared the Olympic Lanes (which will help the competitors and officials reach the Olympic Park without having to get stuck in traffic) to the ZiL lanes in Moscow. Even though the correspondent in Moscow made the point that the Olympic Lanes will only be in force during the 17 days of the Games, whereas in Moscow, the ordinary people have to endure the officials whizzing past them every day of the year, the programme still ended the report on a negative slant.
But yesterday, when the Olympic torch reached central London, the reporters seemed to have made a secret pact to start celebrating the Games. There were smiles all around, even the whinging London reporter, Adrian Warner, smiled on camera! I nearly fell off my seat.
So today, when the Olympics will finally open, I hope the negative press will at least take a back seat here in the UK. Let’s look forward to the opening ceremony, created by Danny Boyle, UK’s foremost theatre producer and film director. Let’s celebrate the fact that the greatest sports event is coming to Britain, that this country is actually pretty good. That London, the Capital – to quote this week’s Time Out – has ‘Better museums than Berlin, cooler art than New York, wilder bars than Chicago, and finer food than Paris.’
Our Mayor, Boris Johnson, put my feelings into words last night. He whipped up some national pride when the Olympic flame reached Hyde Park. It was just what the disparaging BBC reporters and whinging London cab drives needed!