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SBD Global/August 14, 2012/Olympics

Reflections On A 'Great' London Games, And Questions About The Future

Members of the Netherlands field hockey team show off their Gold Medals before departing Heathrow Airport Monday.
London "nursed a collective hangover" on Monday as it bade farewell to the Olympics and to thousands of athletes heading home, according to Mike Collett-White of REUTERS. Britain will look back with pride on a Games one newspaper wrote had "surpassed our wildest dreams,"  British newspaper the Sun trumpeted in an editorial, "The world's verdict is unanimous. Our Games were sensational. We absolutely nailed it." Pride was "tinged with regret, however, as a the diversion of more than two weeks of action-packed sport abruptly ended and the workaday reality of a recession-hit economy and painful government spending cuts loomed large once again" (REUTERS, 8/13). In London, Peter Woodman wrote that "a journey through Heathrow airport -- not always a happy experience -- was made near perfect for thousands of departing Olympic athletes" Monday. The athletes responded to the special arrangement at the west London airport by "praising the London Games and the welcome they received" (INDEPENDENT, 8/13). SINA.com's Li Hongmei wrote that on Monday morning "London will restart its ordinary life, and its residents will see if this grand sports event will have a particular payout or whether they have been hospitable for free or with an outcome (SINA.com, 8/13).

'GREATEST GAMES': The PA's Sculthorpe & Corden wrote London Mayor Boris Johnson expressed his "sadness" and "relief" that the London Olympics was over as he claimed it had been "the greatest Games ever." Johnson said, "If you were to say to me that we have just held the greatest Games ever in Britain, I would say you are on the right track." Asked whether he shared the melancholy of others at the end of the Games, he said: "It's certainly true I did feel a momentary mad desire last night not to give Jacques Rogge that flag. I almost yanked it back." He added: "But I suppose there are two emotions -- one is obviously some sadness that it is all over, because it's been an amazing experience, but also a great relief because there is no doubt it has been a prodigious exertion by London and by Londoners." Johnson added, "I think most people looking at the legacy benefits, looking at what London has achieved, looking at the image of this city and this country that has been projected around the world, and the benign economic effects, will think the money well spent" (PA, 8/13).

WHAT'S NEXT?: U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a column published in the SUNDAY TIMES that as this "extraordinary festival comes to an end, there can be no doubt: we not only delivered; we shone." The Games have "gone so well we can look ahead with confidence." There are many legacies from the Games that "we must use." Cameron wrote: "There's the physical legacy: making sure the Olympic Park thrives after the Games are over and the facilities get used properly. The aquatic centre, for instance, plans to welcome about 1 million people a year. There is the economic legacy: winning business and jobs for Britain when contracts come up for things like the Winter Games in Sochi (2014) and the next Summer Games in Rio (2016)." Cameron noted that in over a decade "we can use the Olympics to bring home business worth £13B ($20.4B)," which is "more than the cost of staging the Games." Cameron added: "There's the volunteering legacy: making sure that spirit, which saw 70,000 people give their time to the Games blossoms, not fades away. And there's the sporting legacy, which starts with the extraordinary efforts of the athletes we have seen and the brilliant Paralympians who will come to London later this month." He concluded: "Our society has let the volunteer spirit and the competitive spirit slip in recent years. The Games are a chance to get them back where they belong, at the heart of the nation" (SUNDAY TIMES, 8/12). Also in London, James Pickford wrote that the Olympic legacy "will be two decades in the making." London Legacy Development Corp. Chair Daniel Moylan "warned against hopes of overnight improvements." He said, "It's the kids who are now 7 to 10 years old who will benefit from all of this." Central to the regeneration plans is the Olympic Park (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/12).

GRADES: The London GUARDIAN's Tim Lewis "adjudicates and gives his marks for everything from legacy to logistics" (GUARDIAN, 8/11).

Category Grade
Venues Four rings
Fans Five rings
Team GB Five rings
Transport Four rings
BBC coverage Four rings
Business impact Two rings

Also in London, Robert Booth headlines that "Olympic visitors give London a gold medal for hospitality." Many visitors to London were "pleasantly surprised by the friendly, upbeat atmosphere they experienced" (GUARDIAN, 8/12).

OFFICIAL APPROVAL: In Perth, Jon Arlidge wrote that there is no French expression for "It's all gone horribly right," but everyone knew that is what Rogge meant when he left the Olympic Park on the eve of the final day of the Games. He said, "The superlatives created in London will live on." Others queued up to agree such as U.S. Ambassador to London Louis Susman who said, "The city has raised the bar for others around the world." How did London get it so right? A "mix of never-say-die determination, guile and military-style planning, that's how." It had a "steely resolve to win the Games and make them the best ever" (SUNDAY TIMES, 8/12).

SECURITY SUCCESS: REUTERS' William Maclean wrote that the absence of serious incidents at the London Games "represents a success for the state and its counter-terrorism allies." The government and some independent commentators said the fact that "it was done with a light touch, with largely unarmed officers and soldiers on display, with no overt paramilitary element, has added lustre to Britain's achievement" (REUTERS, 8/13).

FACE OF THE GAMES: In Hong Kong, Peter Simpson wrote that LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe "has been the face of the Games." His singular vision and determination to inspire millions around the world "has been branded into our conscience." Little wonder then Coe is being "touted for the top IOC job." Rogge steps down next year and Coe probably does not have enough backing to be "a natural shoo-in." Besides, he said that "he will seek the top job at the Int'l Athletics Association." However, it would be wise not to rule him out of the IOC race. For Coe, the end of the London Games might just be the "start of the home straight and a winning sprint to Lausanne" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 8/13).
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Olympics, United Kingdom

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