SBD/August 1, 2012/Olympics

Boris Johnson Relishing In London Spotlight, Omnipresent During Games

Johnson "plays a quintessentially British character, the erudite, upper-class buffoon"
It is “hard to miss Boris Johnson at the Olympics,” as London's “over-the-top mayor is omnipresent, even for someone used to being the center of attention,” according to Danica Kirka of the AP. Johnson has “found a forum like no other, propelling himself front and center into the lives of those who crack up at his one-liners as well as those who cringe at them.” Kirka: “Mobbed like a rock star, Teflon-like in his ability to dodge every gaffe, he is having a moment so Olympian that he spends much of his time batting off speculation that his next stop is 10 Downing Street, home of the British prime minister. ... Always acting somewhat befuddled, Boris plays a quintessentially British character, the erudite, upper-class buffoon” (AP, 7/31).

TRAFFIC CHECK AND QUIET STREETS: The AP’s Gregory Katz noted the traffic in London thus far “is flowing just fine despite the extra pressure" of the Olympics. With most London motorists “choosing to stay away or working from home, it's actually less aggravating to get around town now than usual.” Officials yesterday said that the volume of traffic “has dropped by nearly 30 percent ... easing congestion that might have been caused” by the special Games Lanes (AP, 7/31).  In London, Low, Pitel & Moody note instead of the “widely predicted tourist boom, London was described yesterday as a ‘ghost town’ as overseas visitors have been deterred from coming to the capital during the Olympics.” Hotels, theaters, restaurants, museums and other attractions “all reported a drop in numbers.” European Tour Operators Association Exec Dir Tom Jenkins said that there were “an estimated 150,000 foreign visitors in London instead of the 300,000 normally expected this month” (LONDON TIMES, 8/1). In London, Grace Dent writes London is “actually TOO quiet” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1).

HELLO LOVELY: In a special to the FINANCIAL TIMES, NBC’s Tom Brokaw writes, “In Beijing, the unofficial motto of the vast Chinese investment in urban improvements and venues was, ‘Look out world, here we come.’ In London, the message seems to be, ‘Hello. We’re still British. Lovely’” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/1).
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