Coe Claims Olympic Crowds Helping Change Image Of London From Last Year's Riots
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. Olympic officials from more than 200 countries around this time last year were in the country discussing the 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" (REUTERS, 8/6). The GUARDIAN’s Maev Kennedy notes 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.” London 2012 Festival & Cultural Olympiad Dir Ruth MacKenzie said audience numbers were running "well ahead of expectations" (GUARDIAN, 8/7). Meanwhile, in London, Donna Bowater notes the Paralympic Games begin with the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 29 and “after what could be one of Britain's best performance in the Olympic Games, it is likely to be a sell-out.” Fans have “already bought up all of the reasonably priced tickets to the ceremony” with only $470 and $780 (all figures U.S.) tickets still remaining. Organizers said that there “had been ‘unprecedented’ demand with 1.4 million tickets sold three weeks before the competition starts” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/7).
LEAVING A LEGACY: In London, Morris & Milmo notes Coe has “demanded more compulsory sport in schools to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by the Olympics and to stop Britain's stunning successes from being a flash in the pan.” U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and cabinet ministers are “now under intense pressure to reverse some of their planned cuts to sports spending, in an effort both to increase participation rates and to improve the nation's health.” Coe said, "School sport and legacy, this is (an) opportunity. This is never going to come around again. It is the vehicle of our lifetime. There is inevitably a limited window. ... We need the things in place to capitalise on that spike in interest" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/7). In London, Paul Kelso notes London’s bid to host the Games was “based on a promise to deliver a legacy,” but Coe and LOCOG Deputy Chair Keith Mills have “warned the opportunity has to be grasped if the Games motto, ‘Inspire a Generation,’ is not to prove an empty slogan.” Coe: “The government need to do what they are doing and recognise that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Debate around the legacy impact of the Games has “increased in recent days in the wake of the British team’s success, with a focus on the limited opportunities in state schools” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/7).
TIME TO CELEBRATE: Team Great Britain officials have confirmed that “hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of London for an Olympics victory parade in September.” The GUARDIAN's Matthew Taylor notes all of Team GB “will be invited to take part in the event that will wind its way through the centre of the city” on Sept. 10. Organizers said that the parade will “give fans and competitors the chance to celebrate together.” The parade is “expected to pass through the City of London and on to Trafalgar Square before arriving at the Queen Victoria monument in front of Buckingham Palace where the athletes will congregate for the finale” (GUARDIAN, 8/7).