Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Games Will Bring Hope, Then Euphoria; the Olympics Offer a Unique Chance for Everyone to Be Involved, Says the Mayor, Starting with London's Host City Volunteer Project

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Games Will Bring Hope, Then Euphoria; the Olympics Offer a Unique Chance for Everyone to Be Involved, Says the Mayor, Starting with London's Host City Volunteer Project

Article excerpt

Byline: Boris Johnson

IN retrospect I think I made one false prophecy at the Beijing Olympic Games a year ago. I said that the euphoria would soon die down, and that the memory of Team GB's amazing success would start to fade. I predicted that public attitudes to the London Olympics would curdle, and the murmur of complaint would turn into a roar. I warned that the press would be seized by a fit of Olymposcepticism which would last until the Games were about to begin.

And then suddenly, just as the eyes of the world were turning to London, the mood would turn again, and the nation would be gripped by optimism and enthusiasm in 2012, just as they were in the summer of 2008.

Well, I still think the last bit is right. But I reckon I overdid my anxiety. I don't see quite the Olympo-scepticism that I feared. In spite of all our worries about the recession, the British and especially the London public remain broadly behind the Games.

Of course we are right to be worried about the cost. We must remain frank and ruthless in keeping the budget within the [pounds sterling]9.3 billion envelope. But Londoners overwhelmingly understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are going to put on the greatest show on earth, and to use the investment to transform parts of London that have been neglected for decades.

I am determined to use these Olympics to help generate jobs, and to improve the whole city. Huge numbers of people will be making their contribution to the success of the Games, from Heathrow baggage-handlers to West End hotel staff, to those who will be helping to clean the streets in Greenwich.

We sometimes forget that the Games are not just happening in Stratford. There will be Olympic events at Wimbledon, Wembley, the O2 Arena, ExCeL, Earl's Court and Broxbourne. There will be the triathlon and openwater swimming in Hyde Park, the marathons and road cycle races crisscrossing London and a kind of Baywatch-meets-Canaletto scene in Whitehall, as we stage the beach volleyball on Horseguards Parade. There will be people celebrating and watching the Games across London.

In fact, we expect there will be so many relaxing in central London that we have set up a City Operations team to plan the event, and make sure that we improve the "look and feel" of the city, both in Games time and beyond.

We have much to learn here from the people of Sydney, and the exuberant welcome they offered the world in 2000. Sydneysiders grasped the opportunity of the Games. They knew it would take over their city for a short time. Rather than fearing it, or trying to forget it, they embraced it and milked it for all it was worth.

We are going to harness the Olympics in London, and use them to drive change: more cycling, more trees, urban realm projects, championing the use of low-carbon vehicles - and that is before we have even discussed the amazing legacy transformation we plan for the Olympic Park and surrounding areas. …

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