If London were a Phoenix, it has undoubtedly risen from the flames of last summer’s riots. Hosting one of the greatest Summer Olympics the world has ever seen. London has come out of the Olympics shining brightly, a stark contrast to the images beamed around the world during the riots.
Rewind a mere 12 months and London’s reputation was severely damaged, concerns were raised over the consequences the riots would have on tourism, one of the capital’s biggest sectors. The images shown worldwide were disfiguring, offering a city burning, littered with black hollowed-out cars, deserted streets and boarded up buildings. London appeared shabby, unsafe and unprepared for the security feat and influx of visitors the 2012 Olympics would bring to the city. Quite shockingly, prison sentences totalling over 1,800 years have been handed out to a total of 1,292 offenders. Then, the face of London was one of masked youths making bold statements, claiming the streets as their own for the whole world to see. An extreme difference to today, with the face of London 2012 being that of the smiling welcome offered by the 70,000 Olympic volunteers.
Britons reunited over the course of the Olympic games demonstrating both pride and patriotism, something that no doubt gained momentum since the Diamond Jubilee just a few months prior. Team GB ran, cycled and rowed their way to 29 Gold medals, 17 Silver and 19 Bronze, our biggest haul since 1908. Ranking an impressive third, it’s noteworthy to compare this achievement to just 16 years ago at Atlanta 1996 when Great Britain walked away with just one lonely gold medal, ranking in 36th place.
London had its greatest love affair with the Olympics portraying a small island capable of true greatness, uplifting the view of London and the UK to visitors, tourists, athletes and even its own people. Speaking yesterday, Lord Coe said: “I’m glad the world is now seeing the London I recognise.” Reflecting on the events of last year, he said: “It was a nightmare. It wasn’t a London I recognised. London was changed beyond recognition.”
Aside from being a worthy tourism advert, what other positive outcomes will come from the London Olympics? For now it’s legacy to inspire future generations is the main agenda, and something that will require a great deal of work to not only build but sustain. It did however show that despite the numerous crisis Britain contends with, it can still put on a show, and it can still deliver, creating a great amount of hope and optimism for the athletes of tomorrow.