With 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze: it’s fair to say that the 2012 London Olympics were an undoubted success. For two weeks, the nation was encapsulated in the Olympic spirit, branded by the media as the fairest games ever. Women’s boxing was introduced, in which Britain won a gold medal, and nations such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia finally allowing women to compete, resulting in every competing nation advocating women athletes. The Olympics gave us the opportunity to watch sports we don’t usually get to see, with sports such as gymnastics and diving replacing the regulars of football and rugby.
Yet the undoubted success of the Olympics came at a heavy cost: in the months and weeks leading up to the Games the press was saturated with reports of how London was going to fail. Shamefully, I am far from innocent of this media crime, with my last Brig article channelling my predictions of how this summer’s Olympics were going to fail and be the biggest disaster of 2012, if not the millennium.
Yet unbelievably I was proved wrong. London, a city well known for its frosty inhabitants and money orientation was completely transformed, with reviews of the Games telling of the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Rooftop missiles and being policed by the army did not seem to be a problem, with London being dubbed “the friendly games”.
Of course, we do have hindsight on our side, but the media furore of the terrorist threat does now seem ridiculous. London is a high terrorist target and inviting the world for two weeks would, of course, raise the terrorist threat.
Therefore, drafting the army in was a good idea. The army faces militants every day in places such as Afghanistan and so would be far better equipped, both mentally and resource-wise, to deal with any terrorist threat- far more prepared than the Metropolitan Police. Equally having an army meant that the police could continue to fight regular crime and not become overstretched, ensuring the remainder of London kept to some kind of order.
With over 8.8 million tickets sold for the Games, many feared that this would cripple London’s already busting transport system. Yet this was not the case. Mhairi Hughes, a Stirling University student who spent this summer working and living in London, noted no change in the transport systems: “Honestly, as much as I was sceptical about the Games in regards to travel and terror threat they were exceptionally well organised with extra staff and security measures. Everything ran smoothly and I used the tube during the Games and found them not to be any worse than normal rush hour traffic.”
The logistics of running the Games appeared to go down swimmingly with only a few ticketing problems noted at football stadiums in Newcastle and Cardiff, and of course, the famous flag mix up at Hampden Park. Yet the main issue of the Games came from many referring to them as the English Games and any success to be English success – effectively disregarding the money, resources and athletes that came from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Looking at the 65 medals that Britain won, Scots won 12, despite accounting for 8.4% of the population; Wales brought home a record seven medals and Northern Ireland returned with five – a staggering amount for all three countries when we look at geographical size, resources and population. Outrage was lodged against Radio 1, a reoccurring offender of dubbing the games as English, with over 2,000 people taking to social networking sites such as Facebook to lodge complaints and outrage. As annoying as this is, it’s not exactly anything new. Andy Murray is a prime example of journalists describing him as British one minute and Scottish the next.
We live in Britain, a country made up of four nations and as soon as everyone remembers this and respects it the better. Thankfully, and surprisingly, the London Olympics were viewed globally as a success, proving to the world that, despite the global recession, Britain can still rally together to produce a fantastic tournament. Despite my previous cynicism, the games did well and truly win me over and I found myself screaming at the T.V as Mo Farrah won both his golds and getting up early to watch the equestrian. Who I feel most sorry for is Rio de Janeiro who have to follow the success of London in four years time. Best of luck to you, you’re going to need it.