London Olympic Games 2012 – Update

In its dark past, the city of London survived Roman occupancy, sackings from the Celts, Romans, Vikings and Saxons, a Norman invasion from France, two great fires, the bubonic plague, Nazi bombings, and even the Spice Girls and outrageous celebs. How will it deal with the summer Olympics, 2012?

With the 2016 summer Olympics just being awarded last week to the so-called crime capital of South America, the beautiful and nefarious Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (while the crime capital of the United States, Chicago, finished an unexpected last), was London a wise choice?

Well, London’s cleaning up it’s act on the one hand and has a way to go still to accomplish it:

• The Thames is now the cleanest major urban river in Europe, after being the worst.

• The 2008 elected mayor, Boris Johnson, is building on the “green” thinking of his predecessor, Ken Livingston, and is trying to clear London’s air with a Congestion Charge. The City now demands £8 for any vehicle entering central London, and this has reduced both traffic and pollution. Bear this in mind when you rent a car.

• A cigarette-smoking ban took effect in 2007, and now all restaurants, bars and clubs are smoke-free.

• Mayor Johnson is placing particular emphasis on building more bicycling lanes and encouraging Londoners to recycle.

• The mayor is also trying to boost sporting facilities to “create healthy bodies and healthy minds”. He is planning to spend £6 million to improve the capital’s open spaces, with the aim of making London the world’s greenest city.

• The Olympic Park being built in East London will be the focus of the Games, and will be transformed later into the largest urban park in Europe. It already has a treasure of green open-space, even though it’s the 4th densest populated city in the European Union, and houses a resident population of 7 million people.

• The Cultural Olympiad, kicked off in London after the Closing Ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. This innovative project celebrates people, cultures, and languages using music, art, and theater. The Cultural Olympiad aims to inspire and involve young people and wants to celebrate London’s unique cosmopolitanism and cultural diversity. Large ethnic communities from 34 nations make London home.

• You can be confident in London cabbies as, unlike in other cities, London taxi drivers must pass a training test requiring at least two years of preparation. Eight of every 10 applicants drop out before completion. The ones who remain are superlative in their service to the public in this huge, complex city.

• But London is experiencing a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. And, while it is still an extraordinarily safe city, especially for its size, they are increasing concerns about the incidence of gang culture and gun and knife crime on its streets All of this tarnishes London. It needs to be turned-around immediately. The city contributes approximately 2.5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)(total monies of what’s produced in England), which highlights the pivotal role the city plays for the country’s economy. Tourism is a big chunk of that. Visitors want and deserve safety.

That is one reason why the International Olympic Committee received a barrage of complaints and criticism about its choice of Rio de Janeiro, last week. The world needs to come to as safe a city as possible when celebrating the Olympics. London has always been decently safe, and they are striving to preserve that, as well as to keep up the good work to clean-up centuries of poor habits. I applaud their attempt to create a shining city to showcase the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

©2009 Mystic at Travel Vacation Review