Brits Are Developing A More Positive Attitude On Games, Poll Discovers
A skeptical British public "has become much more positive about the London Olympics since the spectacular Opening Ceremony on Friday night," according to a poll cited by Grice & Taylor of the London INDEPENDENT. ComRes found that 50% of people "now believe the Olympics will be worth" the $14.6B in public money being spent on the event, while 42% disagree and 8% are "don't knows." The upswing in support for the Games "comes as officials insist that they have a handle on the empty seats problem during the first few days of competition." Opinion on the Games "has turned round since ComRes tested support in March, when only 40% of people thought the Games would be worth it and 51% disagreed" (INDEPENDENT, 7/31).
WELCOME TO LONDON: In London, Peter Dominiczak noted more than 2 million visitors "have arrived in London to support the Games, making it the biggest crowd event in the city's history." About 1.5 million turned out "over the weekend to free events across the capital while 500,000 paid to attend sports at Olympic venues." Well over 1 million fans "lined the streets during the weekend’s cycling road races." Hundreds of thousands also "flocked to Olympic Live sites including those at Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Trafalgar Square and Potter’s Field at City Hall, where they could watch the sport on giant screens." The Hyde Park live site is "expected to be packed today, with as many as 80,000 people in the park." Games officials said that about 50,000 spectators "are expected at the equestrian event" (INDEPENDENT, 7/31).
QUIET TIME: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sonne & Whalen noted Britons for months have been "bracing for Olympic gridlock to descend on their capital." But a few days into the games, a "different reality has emerged: Central London is pretty quiet." Of the "million or so visitors and commuters on a normal day, many avoided the city." Some Londoners "have gone on vacation." The "upshot has been veritable quiet in much of the British capital so far" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/31). In London, Peter Woodman reported businesses said that the city's tourism industry "is struggling to compete with the impact of the Olympic Games," which has left the host city a "ghost town." Many traditional tourist hotspots have reported a drop in ticket sales as visitors flock to Olympic venues across the capital. Theater companies said they were seeing a "mixed picture" with many companies struggling due to the lack of football in the West End. General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association Steve McNamara said that "cab drivers had been hit hard" and described London as a "ghost town" (INDEPENDENT, 7/31).
MIND THE GAP: In London, Kevin Rawlinson noted many of the Games lanes "have been reopened to the public after officials such as IOC Chief Jacques Rogge opted to take buses and trains instead." London Mayor Boris Johnson admitted that "'a lot' of the sections of road were not needed this morning." He said, “Actually, we’ve been able to turn off a lot of the Games lanes because so many people are going by public transport." However, a spokesperson for Johnson confirmed that the reopening "was not permanent." A decision on "whether to open sections of the network to the public will be taken each day, subject to the level of demand for them, leaving the possibility open that each of those reopened today could be closed off again tomorrow" (INDEPENDENT, 7/31).