For Seventeen days between 27 July 2012 and 12 August 2012, London was transformed from the capital city of the United Kingdom to the center of the world, as she played host to the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Thousands and thousands of athletes, journalists and visitors descended into London to participate, report or witness the Olympics.
Prior to the commencement of the Olympics, there were a lot of concerns about London’s readiness to host the Games. Would there be a breakdown in the transport system? Would London’s infrastructure be able to cope with the expected flood of human traffic? Would the security apparatus be robust enough to withstand and prevent a terrorist attack? These were some of the questions asked prior to the Games.
A couple of days before the Games, it was reported that there were inadequate security personnel’s to provide security for the Olympics. As a consequence, thousands of soldiers were deployed to the various venues to take charge of security. The various venues were like a military zone with soldiers all over the place. As the Games went by, things stabilized and most things went smoothly. The transport system held up, the soldiers were very helpful and friendly and there were no terrorist attacks. London was also flooded with thousands of volunteers who played a very crucial role in making the Games a success.
London is regarded as one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, however for seventeen days, London went up several levels as it was like the United Nations as hundreds of thousands of people of different tongues and colours came to experience the Olympics. London was one big carnival and it was a joy to see people of different races and tongues unite.
As the Games began, many people began to develop interests in various sports that they never used to follow. Prior to the Games, I mainly followed football, tennis and athletics, but during the Games, I began watching other sports such as volleyball, amateur boxing, cycling, gymnastics, basketball, diving, handball, swimming and canoe slalom. It was also interesting seeing the fans of different nationalities waving their flags, painting their faces, nails and bodies with their national colours.
The Olympians/athletes were very visible as they could be seen walking, shopping, and sitting in the train or on the bus. The sporting venues were fun and we were treated to music, dancing, cheerleading, Kiss Cam, Conga drums in addition to the great sporting performances of the various athletes.
The theme parks were also a good place to get a feel of the Olympic atmosphere. At Hyde Park big screens were constructed to enable fans view the events, in addition, various bands performed and some of the Olympic medal winners were interviewed and posed with their hard earned medals.
Prior to London hosting the Olympics, I always thought that the FIFA World Cup was the greatest sporting event in the world, but now I know better. If I am to explain how the Olympics compares to other sporting events, I will say that the Olympics is an amalgamation of the Notting Hill Carnival, the Rio Carnival, the FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon, US Open, World Athletics Championship, World Swimming Championship, NBA, etc.
Even though I have followed the Olympics for a while, I never experienced it as close as I have experienced it in these last seventeen days and I have to say that the Olympic experience is unexplainable, indescribable and unbelievable. One thing I do know is that the Olympic experience is something that I will always remember and cherish.