Tuesday, December 13, 2011

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony - making Britain great again?

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There was a huge uproar about a shortfall of £40 million pounds announced by the London 2012 Olympics organizing committee. And that's on the opening and closing ceremonies alone. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson justifies that by promising to show the "best of Britain" in the "once-in-a-generation" opportunity.

I'm more sanguine about that. Even though a recent poll shows 80% of its inhabitants say that they are proud to be a Londoner, Londoners are notorious for putting their city down. Tube is horrible especially during peak hours, the weather's bleak and costs of living is skyrocketing. But deep down, we love the city for its quirks and all, we know that, given a choice, we rather be here than anywhere else in the world.

I can still remember the furor when Mayor Boris Johnson stumbled his way through Beijing 2008 Olympics Closing Ceremony. But that was precisely why Londoners voted him into the office in the first place. If Londoners want a no nonsense person, Putin would be asked to lead London instead - a proposition he might just take up as his presidency is in doubt.

A word of caution for the people behind London 2012. Don't even attempt to emulate Beijing because there is absolutely no way London can match up to that spectacle of 2008. Also, there is no fun having 10,000 men of exactly the same height donning the same costume doing a massive display formation. Londoners (or Brits for that matter) come in all shapes and sizes. Celebrate that instead.

The greatness of a city (fine, the country as well) isn't really about how steep in history or the size of its monuments. It's the people from all walks of life that make up the city's soul. A simple smile, a helpful gesture extended from each Londoner to a foreign visitor come summer next year would do what the £40 million can't - to make Britain great. Enjoy the Games, my friends! Well, I'm counting down to it.

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