On 6 July 2005, in a different economic era, thousands of Londoners packed out Trafalgar Square to await the IOC’s decision on who would host the 2012 Games. A normally stoic city burst out into a strange euphoria when London won, although this excitement was cut short by the terrorist attacks on the Tube a day later.
For most people, the excitement never returned. Or perhaps it didn’t properly exist in the first place. Whatever the case, Londoners’ dinner party chatter about the 2012 Games is hardly reflective of LOGOC’s intention to Inspire a Generation.
The public mood is soured by rumours of looming travel chaos, threats of tube strikes and reports of billions being spent on sports stadiums, ceremonies and silly branding in a time of economic hardship.
Still I’m excited, especially about going to the opening ceremony. It should be an event to remember – this island knows how to put on a decent spectacle after all.
Today I took a walk around the new Olympic Park’s perimeter, starting at Hackney Wick, passing through the flashy new Westfield shopping centre and ending up in Stratford’s original high street.
The area’s seen some major changes, but will the Games realise its promise of economic regeneration? It’s early days yet, but I fear we may have another Canary Wharf on our hands: a soulless but wealthy enclave that refuses to mix with its traditional neighbours.
Maybe I’m being prematurely harsh? I’ll let you decide that for yourself.