The London 2012 Olympics — Great, Britain!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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HOSTING the Olympics is one of the most complex and costly undertakings any country can organise and execute, based just on the enormous number of athletes, officials, media and spectators.

Then, of course, there has to be a large number of venues for a wide variety of sporting competitions in fairly close proximity and easily accessible to spectators and media. The accommodation for all the visitors, the transportation system necessary to move them around and the restaurants usually prove too much for most host cities.

The cost of building new facilities, at least a new stadium, and upgrading existing ones to ensure that they meet exacting international standards, is such that it takes years to finish paying off. Add to that the concerns about the threat to security and what many thought were extreme security measures.

Britain agreed to host these games and they did so at a time of serious economic difficulties. Many questioned the wisdom of undertaking this huge expense at a time when the economy was in its most serious recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Notably, the Olympics came at a time when Britain -- a small country that once ruled the largest empire in history -- was scaling down its role in world affairs. This contraction from global superpower was reflected in the reduction in the British army to its smallest complement since the Battle of Waterloo, 200 years ago. The world-renowned civil service is being drastically cut, with thousands being made redundant at a time of high unemployment. The famous British brands in tea, motor vehicles and manufactured goods are owned by firms from India and China. The administration endeavouring to host the Olympics was a coalition government riven with differences which threaten its demise at any time.

Going into the Olympics, the many challenges represented an incredible psychological pressure to the British people, a blow to their pride and a depressing effect on national morale, raising self-doubt in many as to whether Britain could pull it off when the eyes of the world were focused on them.

It is our view, however, that despite all of this Britain did a splendid job of hosting the 2012 London Olympics and should be heartily congratulated for providing a grand show to the world.

British doubt was assuaged, self-confidence was reinforced and pride has been restored, we are sure. The events were well organised and impeccably managed and the British abandoned their traditional reserved nature and welcomed the world with charm and warmth. The famous British weather did not interrupt or put a "damper" on the games. The British athletes responded with a performance that placed them third on the medal table, making it one of their best Olympic Games.

That success will reassure the British that in spite of difficult circumstances and daunting challenges they have the capacity to succeed.

Naturally, as a former colony of Britain, we feel that we made a not inconsiderable contribution to the success of the Games, with the superlative performance of our athletes, led by the incomparable Mr Usain Bolt. That the stars were so lined up to stage the Olympics in the year and at the time we celebrated our 50th anniversary of Independence is mind-boggling.

We know we speak for all Jamaicans in saying heartiest congratulations to the Government and people of Britain.




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