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SBD Global/August 7, 2012/Olympics

Coe Says 'Huge And Enthusiastic' Crowds Helping Dispel Images Of Last Year's Riots

LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said big crowds at the Games are helping dispel rioters rampaging through London last year.
LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said that "huge and enthusiastic crowds at the London Olympics are helping to dispel last year's images of rioters rampaging through the capital," according to Avril Ormsby of REUTERS. This time last year, Olympic officials from more than 200 countries were in the country discussing this summer's Games as parts of London "were burning as rioters ran through the streets, looting at will and randomly attacking passers-by." Coe said, "The world saw a very different London a year ago, and you know exactly what I'm referring to. And I think I said at the time, it saw a London I didn't recognise. What I am seeing at the moment, and what they are seeing at the moment is a London I do recognise now" (REUTERS, 8/6).

MORAL MESSAGE: In London, Shiv Malik reported London Mayor Boris Johnson said that the Olympics are "sending out a moral message to rioters and bankers alike about the connection between effort and achievement." Johnson: "What the riots revealed was, I'm afraid, a deep social problem which requires lots of different solutions. There was a culture of easy gratification and entitlement and all the rest of it. That is part of the problem, and you have to deal with that." Agreeing that this culture "applied equally to bankers as well as rioters," Johnson added the medal successes at the Games sent out a "very clear message about efforts and achievement and what it takes to connect the two." Johnson also said, "What the Olympics are, are a magnificent pageant of effort and exertion, achievement and competition" (GUARDIAN, 8/6).

CELEBRATION TIME: In Hong Kong, Peter Simpson wrote that the halfway mark of the Games "has been cause for celebration among the cheering sports fans, the dedicated athletes, the IOC and LOCOG." Many people believed these Olympics "would be a flop." The misery brigade, with many Brits among them said that "this second-tier, broke nation in the throes of a deep recession would be unable to summon the Olympic spirit and raise its game to a high enough level." London has "encapsulated the true spirit of the event, a sports competition many call the greatest show on earth" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 8/5). In London Maev Kennedy wrote that an estimated 9.6 million people "have joined in the free events and exhibitions of the London 2012 festival, the cultural side of the Olympics, including 2.9 million who rang bells to mark the start of the Games." The festival, the "culmination of the Cultural Olympiad," began on June 21 (GUARDIAN, 8/6).
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