2012 Olympics: Pros and Cons of London as Olympic Host
Starting Friday July 27, London will host the XXX Summer Olympic Games. Europe's third largest city will be hosting the Olympics for the third time overall, and the first time since 1948. London beat out bids by Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris.
But is London the best city to host the Olympic games? And what issues have arisen that diminish London's status as an excellent host city?
Here are some pros and cons for London as host of the Summer Olympics.
It is great to see the spectacle of the Olympics expand around the world by inviting new cities such as Atlanta, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro to host the global event.
But a fundamental concept of the Olympics is to celebrate history. In fact, the modern Olympic Games are an homage to the Olympic competitions of the ancient Greek civilization.
And the modern Olympics celebrate their own history as well, frequently recalling such pivotal moments as Jesse Owens stunning the Berlin crowd in 1936, a young Cassius Clay arriving on the global stage at Rome in 1960, and Bob Beamon shattering the long jump world record at Mexico City in 1968.
There is no better city in which to celebrate the history of the modern Olympic Games than London. Great Britain's capital hosted the fourth ever modern Olympic Games in 1908, as well as the first Summer Olympics after World War II had ended (1948, pictured).
The history of the Olympics is in good hands in London. After all, the Brits know a thing or two about history.
PRO: Stadiums and Venues
Some Olympic host cities, such as Beijing in 2008, had difficulties with constructing stadiums and venues in time for the Olympic games.
London had no such difficulties.
As a result, some of the venues built especially for the games will take center stage without the controversy of past Olympic venues like Beijing's Bird's Nest. London's Olympic Stadium (pictured) seats 80,000 and will host both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Construction of the sustainable structure was begun in May 2008 and completed in March 2011, almost a year-and-a-half before the Olympics were to begin.
The Aquatics Centre is another venue that was constructed specifically for the Olympics, and was completed in plenty of time. Construction of this innovative structure began in July 2008 as part of the Olympic Park big build, an ambitious project that saw all of the main venues and stadiums completed on time and under budget. The Aquatics Centre was completed in July 2011.
These two brand new venues will serve various athletic hosts along with some pre-existing venues, including Wembley Stadium in London, Old Trafford in Manchester and St. James' Park in Newcastle. These three cathedrals of soccer will gladly add the Olympics to their storied histories.
PRO: Greenwich Mean Time
In other words, London is centrally located.
This makes London advantageous as a host city because many citizens around the world will not have to significantly alter their schedules to view the Olympic games live on television. Several major cities including Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Warsaw, Johannesburg and Cairo are only one hour ahead of London. Additionally, Moscow is only three hours ahead, New Delhi only four, and Beijing is seven hours ahead.
And London's location works to the advantage of the United States as well. New York City, Washington, DC, and the entire eastern seaboard of the United States are only five hours behind London.
What this means is that the citizens of all these cities and more can easily adjust their daily routines to watch the Olympic events of their choosing live as they happen. After all, that is the best way to watch a sporting event, other than seeing it in person.
CON: Transportation Issues
London's subway system is feeling the pressure of the Summer Olympics.
Affectionately known as "The Tube", the system expects to see an increase of three million riders. Per day.
The main Tube station of St. Pancras has seen long lines and delays as a result of the Olympic crowds. Two AP reporters recently complained to subway officials after a trip that normally lasts six or seven minutes lasted 50 minutes instead. And other riders took to social media networks to voice their displeasure about rides that took up to two hours to complete.
Without the high-speed "Javelin" train running 24 hours to relieve pressure, the Tube would crack under the weight of the Olympic Games.
CON: Lack of Interest
On the surface, Great Britain would seem to be the last place on Earth that would suffer from a lack of interest in soccer.
But at the Olympic Games, that is exactly what is happening.
More than 500,000 soccer tickets remained unsold, according to a recent count. That number was originally more than one million, but the seating capacity at some of the more distant soccer stadiums was reduced, cutting the number of unsold tickets in half. The seating capacity at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, for instance, was reduced from 75,000 to 40,000 by closing the upper deck of the stadium entirely.
This apathy is extremely embarrassing for the soccer-crazed British. But unfortunately, this is not the largest embarrassment of the games.
CON: Security Failures
The Olympics are the largest sporting event in the world. As a result, the safety and security of all the athletes and spectators participating in this event is paramount.
But GS4, the British company in charge of Olympic security, must not have gotten that memo. Among many problems facing the London Olympics before they even started, the private contractor company admitted last week that its Olympic security staff is 3,500 short. The British military was called on to help recover from this significant loss of manpower. And just this week, 1,200 additional troops were deployed to strengthen security around the Olympic venues. That brings the total to 18,200 British military personnel currently helping with Olympic security.
Furthermore, there were reports that some GS4 employees were ill-equipped while others failed to even report to work at various Olympic sites. Local police forces filled in those gaps.
This is an egregious oversight for any Olympics. But this situation is especially glaring as the world recognizes the 40th anniversary of the Israeli hostage crisis at the Munich Games in 1972.
The London Olympic organizers have tempted fate by leaving their security so lax.