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Londoners are ready to put on a great Olympic show

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Adrian Warner | 09:26 UK time, Thursday, 29 December 2011

Olympic Stadium. Getty Images

From "a hotchpotch of abandoned factories and muddy soil to a carefully landscaped park of modern, sporting venues". Getty Images.

I've been going to the Olympic Park in east London every week for the BBC for close to five years now.

I've seen it grow from a hotchpotch of abandoned factories and muddy soil to a carefully landscaped park of modern, sporting venues.

The other day something quite striking happened down there.

Instead of having to put on a hard hat and bright clothing for a building site, I was allowed to walk in normal clothes across the Park.

I took a 15-minute stroll from the main spectators' entrance by the Westfield shopping centre, past the Aquatic Centre and main stadium and over to the Handball arena.

Suddenly, the Park had the feel of the six Summer Olympics I have covered before.

I could imagine this site in Stratford as the focus of the world, like I'd experienced in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

In that moment, I had the vision of thousands of spectators walking to the venues with excitement in their steps and journalists racing ahead of them with deadlines and stress in their bellies.

For the first time I could imagine the Olympics in my own back yard. More and more Londoners and Britons are going to feel the same way in the next few months. The juggernaut is just around the corner.

Now, it's my job to question all the decisions taken around the Games and to make sure they are all in the interests of taxpayers and Londoners.

That's going to get more important, especially with more public money going into the "private company" called LOCOG which is organising the Games.

I'm going to continue doing this during the months leading up to the Games. I'm not going to conduct the cheerleading. I'm actually quite proud of the fact that my nickname in the LOCOG offices is "Citizen Warner"!

But, I am also not going to forget what a wonderful few weeks we have ahead of us in the summer.

The world will come to London and I am convinced Londoners will put on a great show and give people a warm welcome.

I know some Londoners will complain about the Olympic lanes, the inevitable transport problems and parking restrictions. We've got months of controversy ahead, I'm sure.

But when the event starts, the atmosphere will be magnificent and we will remember it for the rest of our lives.

Why am I so confident? Because I remember the warmth of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 when the Olympic bid was not even a sparkle in the eyes of Lord Coe.

The packed Manchester crowds were brilliant. They knew their sport and they cheered everybody on, whatever their nationality. I expect London to be even better than that.

I also think the way tickets have been snapped up by the public, that the 2012 atmosphere will be better than Sydney in 2000 and Barcelona in 1992. The Games I remember with the most excitement.

I don't think 2012 have done everything right. I still believe they could have got more tickets to more people in London and the UK. I'm not impressed by their merchandising and I think there are serious errors in some of the transport plans.

But I really believe, whatever the arguments about money and plans, that the British public will deliver some magnificent memories in July and August.

Visit: BBC London 2012
Follow: @BBCLdnOlympics

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I hope you,re right and your optimism isnt misplaced But as the economic situation worsens ,this junket sits uncomfortably with the increasing hardships people are finding. I realise at the time of the bid no one had a crystal ball ,so blaming anyone would be a tad pointless. However I think the up tempo Olympic London vibe may not make it all the way to depressed areas,further north who see their spending cuts bite. Iknow folk will say the 2 are not connected ,getting folk to believe it is another thing.

  • Comment number 2.

    Adrian, I'm in South Africa at the moment and have had some interesting conversations here about countries hosting such large events and the impact thereof (quite relevant locally as SA of course hosted the FIFA world cup in 2010). It seems the tournament in South Africa did the country a world of good - in terms of national unity and spirit at least. Economically, there is still some debate as to whether the funds used to host the event could have better been used in infrastructure development and education.. for the most part though, it seems the naysayers have been silenced here.

    One can only hope that the Olympics in London will have a similar effect for the UK, particularly given that recent times have been quite troubled for us. Lord knows we need some national unity and an injection of spirit right now!

  • Comment number 3.

    @Michelle Summers - the issue is less of national unity than of legacy. It may be great to get a short term boost in national morale but whether the Olympics (or the World Cup in SA as you mention) will leave a sustainable legacy is another matter altogether. Even in South Africa - the event went off well, sure, but the opportunity cost of what could have been spent on uplifting the poor instead is what was foregone.

  • Comment number 4.

    Initially I was sceptical about hosting this extravagent event in London. I just heard that Sir Andrew Loyd Webber plans to close some of his theatres during the games but followed this statement with an optimistic view of London's tourism business for the coming years which has made me think again.

    Its happpening - let's embrace and make the most of this special event.

    Anil @ Travel Writers

 

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