London still warming up

Teeming English capital is slowly getting into Olympic mood

London still warming up

In the middle of the sprawling Olympic Park, the heart of the 2012 Olympic Games, stands the Arcelor-Mittal tower. Reaching out to the sky, it reflects the ambition of a nation hosting its third Games in history. The twisted structure, perhaps, is also a symbol of the confusion that is obvious at many points in the Olympic city.

Just a day to go for the opening ceremony, the Londoners seemed be in two minds – wh­ether to embrace the Ga­mes wh­­o­leheartedly or to take a cynical approach, complaining about the next three weeks that will alter their schedules and affect their lives.

Weather worries, transport concerns, security issues and strike threats have marked the run-up to the biggest sporting celebration on the planet. But at least on one count, the host city seems blessed at the moment, with the sun beating down ferociously over the last two days.

A journey to the Olympic Park, as such, was an exercise in burning calories.
“The Main Press Centre? It’s a looong walk and a pretty hot walk too,” said a rosy-cheeked Royal Navy lady at the security checkpoint outside the Stratford International Station, the main entry point to the Park. Of course, she didn’t know that there was a shuttle bus service to cover that distance in cool comfort.

Neither did anyone at the station. Volunteers are at the heart of a Games operation anywhere in the world but the first impression that London gave was that there weren’t enough of them, or most importantly, they weren’t at the right places.

Meanwhile, concerns over transport system, with a threat of strike by tube workers, persisted, threatening to put the Games off-gear. Security, the other major worry, seems to have been addressed but the guards didn’t endear themselves to anyone with their tough patting-down exercise even after one has passed through the metal detectors.
These glitches apart, things did move smoothly on the organisation front. The accreditation at the entry points functioned efficiently while the training centres were abuzz with activity as athletes warmed up for the big task.

The Olympic lanes were operational from Wednesday and even as other vehicles moved at a snail’s pace, the ones related to the Games zipped through without a hassle in dedicated lanes. Of course, Londoners are frowning upon the special treatment but they can’t help it, and they have no  choice. The same goes with the Games too – it’s a celebration to which they made a commitment seven years ago, and it’s time to join the party!

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