Today we are exactly one week away from the XXX Olympiad being held in London. As usual, there is a lot of excitement, but there is also evidence of much nervous tension too. Everyone wants the Games to go well so badly, the critics have no trouble finding as many faults as they wish, while the supporters fret and angst for good measure. But the truth is definitely in the middle of those two extreme positions.
Whatever problems there are (mainly around security which was not organised effectively), must be set against the background of our culture. We are a laid back country. We don't do paranoia and suspicion. We are mainly for trust, hope and optimism, behind a stiff upper lip and fingers crossed. The builders have done our country proud: raising a beautiful Olympic village and venues out of nothing, regenerating one of the worst parts of London at the same time, not to mention the creation of jobs and the pride we are all feeling to be hosting the games. Everyone involved have worked their pants off over the past 6 years to bring you the awesome spectacle lined up for you. Anyway, for those worried about security, it's now under the command of the Army and Police, so that problem has been sorted.
Everything is now in place for a most amazing month, including many FREE cultural events of unbelievable innovation and creativity, which have been sponsored by the irrepressible Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. As an Olympic Ambassador, I can feel the enthusiasm among fellow Ambassadors and the keenness to get on with the job meeting, greeting and welcoming the millions of visitors we expect during the games, so I thought I would start my duties right now, right here, for your benefit. :o)
What can the visitor to London expect from July 27th, the day of the Opening Ceremony, to the end of the Paralympic Games in September? LOTS.
1. Your local Ambassador (that's your very own Ms Cyprah!!) will be based at Paddington Station to welcome you. She will be reserving her most charming smile for all her social media friends should they wish to grace her shores with their presence! (Read more about her base here)
2. There will be 32 sporting games at 12 different venues, with the Olympic Park hosting the most popular sports. (See here for the venues and for a great schedule of events, including medal ceremonies)
3. Visitors will be able to watch the Olympic sporting events free of charge in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square on the BT Live big screens. A nice picnic in the park with some Games would go very well together!
4. Described as "brilliant, breathtaking, amazing, brilliant, fun, free and unmissable", there will be a showcase of cultural events where you need no money at all to attend them: from music, dance, festivals, iconic sights, bridge illuminations, music showtime - including opera on the canal, to surprise pop up performances (involving the public in some random Shakespearean theatre) and countless other attractions laid on for your benefit. (Download a copy of the FREE Guide here to have a look at what's on offer)
5. An Inclusive GUIDE to all sorts of amenities in the capital, like great hotels, restaurant, pubs etc.
6. And what about TICKETS? Some are still available but you have to register with this website to be informed.
It is all here, ready and waiting for your patronage. Even the athletes have begun to arrive from all over the world, though we do not expect the majority of them to be here before next Thursday. In fact, there was a news item on the BBC about two Somalian athletes whose presence at the Games, despite incredible obstacles like poverty and war to contend with in their country, reminded us of just what the Olympics mean to those developing countries. We can all be blasé about such events when we are living in plenty. But to see the impact, the potential and the sheer difference it makes to some athletes is beyond belief and very moving.
I will be covering any worthwhile news each day and I look forward to your company at the 2012 Olympic Games. I hope this has been of help.
Welcome to London 2012 and I do hope you have the most amazing time! :o)