Olympics 2012: London’s reactions

Today I rode the tube down to the Olympic Park to film some stand-ups. It gave me a chance to take in the atmosphere of the Games. It’s so great to see London become a cultural melting pot. So many different people from different countries like Croatia, Turkey, Bahrain, and Greece. It was actually rare to see an American. Whenever I did encounter a stranger with “USA” on their clothing, a small moment of joy followed. It was like we had known each other for years, exchanging handshakes and chants.

 

While shopping for some USA basketball gear in London’s awe-inspiring Nike store, I asked one of the employees if they were happy to have the Games in his city.

 

He laughed. Hysterically.

 

Happy? For all this chaos? I’d rather just take a nice holiday on the beach,” he joked.

 

Believe it or not, this was not the first time I heard a local complain about the Olympics being in their greatest city. From the discussions I’ve had, it seems that the overall mood of Englanders is more frustration than excitement.

 

It’s easy to see why locals are fatigued. The Olympic branding didn’t just start in 2012. When London secured their bid in 2005, wall-to-wall advertising ensued. Since then, Englanders have had the Olympics thrown in their face.

The timing of the Olympics brings more frustration. Britain, like much of Europe, is in the midst of an economic crisis. Amidst hard financial times, many citizens of the United Kingdom believe London’s focus should be on the recession rather than an international sporting event. Even if it is the greatest competition in the world and an honor for London. The countries switch to a coalition form of government only makes tensions rise. Welfare reform has become a topic fraught with controversy in these parts, mostly because of an 18 billion pound reduction of benefits by 2014.

 

While I’m here, I’ll continue to monitor local Olympic reaction. This will be something that will be even more intriguing to watch after the curtains fall on The 2012 Games in a week. 

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