They’re coming from far and wide to see the greatest show on earth – the London 2012 Olympics (27 July – 12 August) and the Paralympics (29 August – 9 September).
Do you have your Olympics tickets?
The allocation of tickets by ballot has caused some controversy, as have the ticket and hotel packages offered by Thomas Cook and corporate hospitality company Cosport, with hoteliers furious at the mark-ups on their room rates. The British Hospitality Association argues that the rooms allocated to LOCOG were not meant to be sold on. The counter argument is that the inflated rates are the price you pay for certainty, because the guaranteed room comes with guaranteed tickets to specific events. It’s not surprising that in such uncertain times, “certainty” is at a premium…!
But, on a more positive note, Londoners are starting to talk about the forthcoming Games with many looking forward to the excitement, colour and spectacle, and especially, to the ladies beach volleyball tournament! There are articles in the Metro and Evening Standard encouraging miserable commuters to cycle to work and to the Olympic park. Hopefully the weather will be vastly improved.
There is talk of the West End shows closing over the relevant period due to a predicted drop in attendance and yet there is a cultural Olympiad planned with 1000 events involving art, theatre, dance and poetry scheduled from 21 June – 9 September to be held at, amongst others, the Barbican theatre. Juliette Binoche, Cate Blanchette, Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars are some of the celebrities taking part.
Most believe the Games will be good for London and the UK. Others think the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is more exciting. The US embassy is offering advice to its citizens on visiting London and on how to avoid ticket and accommodation scams.
The Huffington Post and New York Times have featured positive and interesting reports on the East London tours offered free by the London Greeters service. Tours of the Olympic Park are also available at £9 an adult.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Games is that the Olympic flame will be lit on the 10th of May, using the sun’s rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia in a traditional hour-long ceremony amongst the historic ruins of the home of the ancient Games. As an elderly gentleman remarked recently: “old is gold!”
IF YOU GO
To arrange a London Greeters (visiteastlondon.com/london-greeters) tour of East London, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org about two weeks in advance. The free tours, limited to six people, last about one to four hours.
Tour Guides offers a two-hour daily Olympic Park walking tour at 11 a.m., departing from the Bromley-by-Bow Underground station, for £9, or $13.65 at $1.50 to the pound, for an adult. Reserve a space at tourguides2012.co.uk.