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SBD Global/July 23, 2012/Olympics

Games Chiefs Fire Back At Cynics As Excitement Mounts

London Mayor Boris Johnson takes in a recent meal at the Athlete's Village.
Olympics organizers responded to cynics Sunday after weeks of negative headlines, saying that "criticism over planning mistakes and costs were being outweighed by a surge in public excitement" as the start of the Olympics nears, according to Mohammed Abbas of REUTERS. Britain's "famously caustic media" also seemed to "adopt a more positive stance." London Mayor Boris Johnson told the BBC, "I think possibly what we're going through as a nation, as a city is that necessary, pre-curtain-up moment of psychological self-depression before the excitement begins on Friday when the curtain goes up." Britain's press, however, "appeared to be joining the Games bandwagon" on Sunday, dedicating pages to the torch relay in London and giving away special Olympic guides and supplements (REUTERS, 7/22).

COE PENS PIECE: Meanwhile, the London DAILY MAIL published a piece written by LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe under the headline "We've had accusations -- now it's time to lighten up for 19 days of spellbinding sport." In it, Coe wrote, "The words fiasco, chaos and crisis become the £50 of journalistic currency and the organising committee portrayed as dysfunctional, out of touch and about to inflict grievous and irreparable wounds to our national reputation." He continued, "Sometimes you fight back because the reportage bears no resemblance to reality. Sometimes you have the insatiable desire to start every explanation to your inquisitor with: ‘Lighten up. We are staging the greatest celebration of sport that the world’s best athletes of their generation are going to lay before us.'" Coe also wrote, "I don't criticise the current media commentary, it goes with the territory." But in all the media coverage, "we are not reading about our inability to build a stadium or to excite well over ten million people, enough to stand 20-deep along the route of the Torch Relay in monsoon conditions." He concluded, "Nor are we questioning our ability to capture the generosity of spirit of millions of people in this country, who by the hour over the past seven years have been the envy of those countries that only a decade earlier were questioning our ability to even mount a bid for the Games. We are not even questioning the pride, which we as a nation feel about staging them" (DAILY MAIL, 7/21).

RUB OF THE GREEN: In London, Roger Blitz wrote that "after seven years, £9.3B ($14.5B), a last-gasp troop call-up, a temporary fix for Heathrow queues and presumably nightly prayers to the sun gods, Lord Coe needs one more precious thing -- luck." Coe said, “Believe me, I like luck. There have been big moments in my athletics career where I’ve had the rub of the green. I’ve known that. We need the rub of the green, believe me" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/22).
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