I have seen and heard much speculation over the 2012 Olympics in the media since Boris Johnson accepted the Olympic torch on behalf of the United Kingdom at the end of the 2008 Olympics in China. For some unknown reason, all too much of it is negative.
There is something about the psyche of the UK that cannot accept greatness, or is not surprised at – almost expecting – failure. Whether it’s a backlash following the British Empire or World War II, part of some greater circle of life, I don’t know. One thing I do know is that our media peddle doom and gloom, and the only reason they do that is because we buy it; if it didn’t make them money they wouldn’t do it.
But this negative outlook makes us all over-look what is great about our capital. There is so much of which we should be proud.
London has been a major settlement for two thousand years, and in that time has grown to be one of the most influential cities in the world. It is the world’s largest financial centre along with New York City. The heart of London’s financial sector, known simply as ‘the city’ has barely changed its boundaries since mediaeval times.
It is also home to the first and – save for Shanghai – most extensive underground railway system on the planet.
London’s Heathrow airport caters for more passengers than any other airport, and its airspace is the busiest of any urban centre across the globe, carrying more international visitors into the city last year than any other city bar Paris.
The city boasts an impressive cultural heritage with a diverse range of centres of excellence, including Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, V&A, Tate and Tate Modern across the Thames in Waterloo and Southwark, Royal Academy of Music, RADA, Royal Opera House in Covent Garden – the list goes on.
Many of the world’s most famous landmarks can be found in London including St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London itself and the Houses of Parliament with the iconic ‘Big Ben’ tower.
Even the world’s time zones are calculated relative to Greenwich, within the borough of London.
And let’s not forget, the city has already hosted two Olympic Games, one of which was within three years of the end of World War II which decimated so much of the city and its infrastructure.
So let’s turn over a new leaf, United Kingdom, shall we? Let’s focus on what goes right at the Olympics in 2012, not scrutinise every mistake and splash it across the headlines.
Let’s just be proud for once.